Turbotodd

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

Posts Tagged ‘2019

Need a Lyft?

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If you’re looking for a new iPad, Apple is offering up a couple of new options.

A new 10.5” iPad Air ($499), and a 7.9” iPad mini ($399), both with retina displays, the A12 Bionic chip, and support for the first-gen Apple pencil.

For those keeping score, that mini has the same screen size as the previous generation. 9to5Mac writes that the Air is “a halfway house between the $329 iPad and $799+ iPad Pro tiers.”

On the dealmaking and moneyraising fronts, there’s also news from this Monday.

Fidelity National Information Services Inc. said it has agreed to acuire Worldpay Inc for roughly $35 billion in cash and stock, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Why do we care?

This deal would build a global payments giant and back-end financial services business in a sector “under pressure to cut costs, develop new products and add customers.”

The combined FIS and Worldpay expects to generate $500 million in additional revenue and annual cost cuts of about $400 million through combining their one-stop shop services to process online and in-store payments and manage transactions in multiple currencies. The enlarged group, which expects to have annual revenue of about $12.3 billion, also will offer services to manage fraud and advanced data analytics, the companies said.

 FIS helps banks process credit-card transactions, service auto loans and handle back-office functions for money managers among a range of services that it offers. The company says its technology is used in managing transactions involving more than $9 trillion annually.

Finally, if you’re looking for a lift, ride-share company Lyft today disclosed it hopes to raise over $2 billion in its IPO, at an initial market cap that could top $19 billion. 

Lyft is expecting to offer 30.77 million shares valued at between $62 and $68 per share, and its IPO road-show is expected to kick off today.

Might be cheaper to ride a scooter.

Written by turbotodd

March 18, 2019 at 10:25 am

Posted in 2019, apple

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Nothing to Like

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What a thing to wake up to on a Friday morning. 

I’m referring to the horrific shootings in New Zealand.

To not mention seems to ignore it. And yet as with so many of these mass shootings, it’s awfully enticing to want to not mention it (or the culprit) at all.

Largely because it plays into the shooter’s likely desired narrative.

Just as the April 1999 shooting in Columbine seemed to spawn a whole new generation of mass shootings, we’ve seen a next generation of shooters utilizing the power and reach of social media to try and amplify their impact.

The New Zealand shooting seems, based on what we know so far, to be a prime example. 

A New York Times’  opinion piece about the tragedy indicates that the shooting began with the shooter putting on a helmet camera before he drove to a mosque in Christchurch “and began shooting at anyone who came into his line of vision.”

Wrote the Times: “The act of mass terror was broadcast live for the world to watch on social media.”

Despite platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube (and others) trying to take the recording down, along with an accompanying manifesto said to be from the gunman, “they [the social networks] were no match for the speed of their users,” and AI algorithms were also not enough to find and prevent the video’s spread. 

But the story also reminds us Christchurch isn’t a first of its kind, either, and likely won’t be its last. There was the live shooting of two reporters in 2015 in Roanoke, Virginia, the killing of Robert Godwin in 2017…it’s as if 1998’s “The Truman Show” has completely jumped the shark, gone off the rails, and headed straight into the dark circles of Cyber Hell.

The forecasted Andy Warholian 15 minutes of fame has morphed into 17 minutes of Facebook livestreamed shooting of innocent worshippers in Christchurch.

The only remedy I can think of is to stop watching these attackers.  

Stop giving them the attention they want, and perhaps they’ll start to second-guess their ill-fated attempts at “fame.”

Put the smartphone down. Turn off the YouTube video.

And whatever you do, don’t RT the name or the Tweet of the terrorist.

There’s really nothing to “like” about them at all.

Written by turbotodd

March 15, 2019 at 12:16 pm

Posted in 2019, facebook, terrorism

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Facebook Down, 5G Up, Boeing 737 Max Grounded

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It’s a busy hump day.

The Verge (and others) are reporting that Facebook, Messenger, and WhatsApp are having a difficult day, working to bring its services back online:

Facebook and Instagram appear to be partially down for some users around the world today. While you can open both platforms, it looks like you can’t send or receive messages on either platform, and you can’t post new content either.

WhatsApp appeared to be fine for many people, but users in Paraguay, India, Bangladesh, Argentina, and more note that they are experiencing issues with sending messages. DownDetector indicates that those in Brazil were experiencing the most severe outages.

Oculus Go users are also reporting issues.

Meanwhile, President Trump has announced a ban of Boeing 737 Max flights, according to a report from The New York Times: 

President Trump announced on Wednesday that the United States was grounding Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft, reversing an earlier decision by American regulators to keep the jets flying after a second deadly crash in Ethiopia.

The Federal Aviation Administration had for days resisted calls to ground the plane even as safety regulators in some 42 countries had banned flights by the jets. As recently as Tuesday, the agency said it had seen “no systemic performance issues” that would prompt it to halt flights of the jet.

“The safety of the American people, of all people, is our paramount concern,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the White House.

And if you’re looking for some futuristic technology good news, you can smile if you live in Chicago and Minneapolis: Verizon’s 5G service is slated to launch there on April 11 and will cost $85-$105 U.S. for unlimited plans.

Bloomberg reports how Verizon got around the absence of 5G phones as they work to make this forward leap in cellular communications:

Verizon sidestepped one of the main challenges to 5G introduction — the absence of 5G phones — by offering an adaptation. Starting Thursday, the company is taking orders for a $50 snap-on module for the Motorola Z3 phone, making it the only phone that will be enabled for the advanced service by the April 11 launch date.

Written by turbotodd

March 13, 2019 at 3:50 pm

Posted in 2019, 5G, airlines

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IT Skills Up, Up and Away

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IT skills are in demand and increasingly scarce.

So says a report from The Wall Street Journal.

According to the report, companies across the U.S. economy last month hired IT workers at the sharpest pace in more than four years.

The number of new IT jobs in all industries expanded by an estimated 253K positions in February, the largest one-month gain since November 2015.

That pushed the unemployment rate for IT occupations down to 2.3 percent, and it was software/app developers, computer user support specialists and computer systems engineers and architects that continued to be the most in-demand tech skills sought by employers.

CompTIA, which conducted the research, indicated that blockchain, AI, machine learning, and other emerging tech skills were also helping to add to tech employment gains, with this categories increasing 74 percent last year.

The Journal cited staffing firm Robert Half International Inc. as also indicated more than 80 percent of some 2,800 tech-hiring decision makers at U.S. companies said finding talent was a challenge, and that the average CIO salary had hit $300,000 this year.

As Steve Ballmer used to scream, “Developers, developers, developers!”

You can start or continue to build your own tech skills at IBM Developer.

Written by turbotodd

March 12, 2019 at 10:18 am

Nvidia’s New Chips

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Nvidia announced its largest-ever acquisition today, offering $6.9 billion for data center chip technology maker, Mellanox.

Bloomberg is reporting that Mellanox beat out rivals that included Intel in a bidding process for the American-Israeli company, one which its founder, Jensen Huang, built in under three years by “persuading owners of data centers that his graphics chips are the right solution for processing the increasingly large amounts o information needed for artificial intelligence work, such as image recognition.”

The growing reams of data generated means work on AI and large databases needs to be split between multiple computers. Simply using a faster processor isn’t enough, Huang said. To deal with this, data centers in future will be built as though they are single giant computers “with tens of thousands of compute nodes,” requiring inter-connections that let them work in parallel. Nvidia will use its newly acquired technology to make those giant warehouses full of machinery more efficient and effective, he said.

The deal may signal a resumption of consolidation in the $470 billion semiconductor industry, which has been reshaped over the past five years as companies combined to gain scale while battling rising costs and shrinking customer lists.

The deal will require regulatory approval.

ZDNet’s take

Nvidia’s purchase of Mellanox for $6.9 billion will translate into a broader data center play for beyond the graphics and high performance computing markets.

  • Nvidia’s rivalry with Intel hits a new stage.
  • Nvidia gets more revenue diversification and data center sales.
  • Mellanox gives Nvidia more entries into high performance computing and the data center.
  • As artificial intelligence workloads become the norm, Nvidia with Mellanox be more an architecture play.

And SiliconANGLE spoke with analyst Patrick Moorhead about the deal:

“Both Nvidia and Mellanox are big in the high performance computing, machine learning, automotive, public cloud and enterprise data center markets, and could bring even more value to customers when [their technologies are] combined.”

“Scale and diversification is everything in the chip business, and Nvidia gets both with this acquisition,” added Holger Mueller, principal analyst and vice president of Constellation Research Inc. “It allows the company to scale and diversify from its existing graphics, gaming and AI use cases. Getting in the data center is vital with the overall move to the public cloud, so if this goes through, it means Nvidia will become more relevant for both executives and developers alike.”

The financial spin: Nvidia is paying a 15% premium to Mellanox’s Friday closing level, and indicated the purchase would be immediately accretive to earnings, margins and cash flows.

Written by turbotodd

March 11, 2019 at 2:03 pm

Lidar on the Radar

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Happy Humpday.

The lidar business is growing, suggests a recent Bloomberg story.

That’s because Alphabet’s self-driving car unit, Waymo, is getting into the sensor business and will start selling laser-mapping sensors on its driverless vehicles to other companies (as long as they don’t compete with its robotaxi business). 

What is lidar? Basically, a device that shoots lasers off of object to determine what’s near by.

So, as Bloomberg explain, the tech could be utilized in next gen warehouse robots, security systems, autonomous tractors (and other farming implications)…This is not your daddy’s Future Farmers of America.

This move puts Waymo in competition with the world’s larger lidar producer, Veloydyne Lidar Inc., but Bloomberg suggests the lead here is that this will give Waymor scale, meaning more production and volume, the lower the cost of its sensor suite, the more customers that can be lured to using the technology.

FYI, lidar is expected to be a $1B+ market this this year. 

Still, I advise looking both ways before crossing the road.

Written by turbotodd

March 6, 2019 at 11:19 am

This Person Does Not Exist…No, Really!

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This one made me laugh out loud: According to a story in the Financial Times, two fifths of artificial intelligence (AI) start-ups don’t use any AI programs in their products.

This from a report by London-based investment firm MMC Ventures, which said it could not find any evidence of AI apps in 40 percent of 2,830 AI start-ups based on public information and interviews with executives.

And yet the companies were often described as AI-focused.

Hey, it’s AI. Everything can be AI when it’s AI. Except when it’s not, which just means the AI is fooling you into thinking it isn’t.

What’s up is down and what’s down is up, and as the White Queen explained in Alice in Wonderland, ”Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

This, increasingly, the world we’re moving into. 

Witness the most recent AI phenomenon, ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com, the creation of Uber software engineer Philp Wang.

If you haven’t checked this site out, it’s pretty simple (and yet, under the covers, quite complex): Every time you refresh the site its “generative adversarial network,” which was trained on a massive dataset of real images, produces a new facial image of a non-real person.

Yes, ladies and germs, a real website that creates images of fake people.

So if you thought you weren’t sure whether you could believe those sleazy photos of that sleazy politician were for real…well, now you’ll likely be right.

Then, extrapolate that scenario and multiply it by a gazillion others.

They always said truth was the first casualty of war…I think it’s safe to say you can now append AI to that list. 

Written by turbotodd

March 5, 2019 at 11:11 am

Posted in 2019, AI, startups

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