Google Wisely Going Slow with Glass

April 23, 2014

Beta testing technology is never pretty. The first Apple computer was famously housed inside a wooden shell, for instance. Often times, we are impatient for our new toys to fully evolve, which is why someone like Google has a graveyard of forgotten offerings. However, they seem content to let Google Glass grow naturally, especially after releasing a hilarious photo recently in Business Insider’s article, “What Google Glass Looked Like Three Years Ago.”

The picture features a Google Glass that looks closer to a proton pack than a mobile search device. As the article comments:

There’s hope for those who are intrigued by the idea of Google Glass but, for vanity’s sake, wouldn’t wear today’s version in a million years. In three more years, Google Glass will probably look like Ray-Bans!

We are equally optimistic that the Google Glass that is released to the public will not be the gawky frames we know today. That’s why we like the time the company is taking releasing the product. Unlike the days of, say, the Google Music Player which followed the Beta testing plan of throwing a product against a wall and if it sticks keep with it, otherwise abandon it. If Google wants to revolutionize mobile search, taking their sweet time with Glass is the right thing to do.

Patrick Roland, April 23, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Norvigs Law

April 21, 2014

The computing field has developed its fair share of laws, with Moore’s perhaps the best-known. Now, we’d like to bring your attention to a lesser-known example, coined in 1999 by computer scientist and AI expert Peter Norvig., which states that “any technology that surpasses 50 percent penetration will never double again (in any number of months.)” Norvig has a page on his site dedicated to Norvig’s law; there he explains:

“In July 1999, there was a news article stating that PC usage had doubled yet again, reaching penetration of 50 percent of homes. People were hailing this as yet another sign of the inevitable climb of technology, but I saw it as a warning sign that the glass was half empty, and coined [Norvig's law].

“To be clear, it all depends on what you count. If you’re counting units sold, you can double your count by selling everyone 1 unit, then 2, then 4, etc.…If you’re counting the total number of households that own the product, you can double your count by doubling the population, or by convincing everyone to divorce and become two households. But if you’re counting percentage of people (or households), there’s just no more doubling after you pass 50 percent.”

Norvig closes with a reminder to think of his law next time we hear that another technology has doubled its reach. The scientist has lead research teams at several prominent institutions, and now serves as Google’s Director of Research. We wonder how Norvig’s law shapes Google strategy.

Cynthia Murrell, April 21, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Concern about the Future of Technology

April 19, 2014

I suggest you read two articles.

The first is from folks who make their living cheerleading technology. The article “What Does the Recent Tech Stock Downturn Meant? The Truth Is Nobody Knows.” is an admission that the future of technology is—well—not too clear. With increasing class tension in the City by the Bay, I suppose some reflection is warranted. I sort of knew this when I was a wee lad. Apparently for those surfing technology, the notion that the fancy analytics systems with their clever predictive methods are clueless is interesting. I assume not even insider information is illuminating the dark corners of what seems to be a somewhat trivial issue compared with some of the national and international news.

The second is “We got Bookies to Predict the Future of Tech.” Crowdsourcing the future is not too interesting. I checked out the investment and threat markets and concluded that the Ivory Tower folks had time on their hands. This article contains a quote I noted. The comment is about Google Glass. Few items of headgear trigger assaults, so I was intrigued:

“Simply put, we don’t feel like this will catch on with the wider consumer base in remotely the same way as the iPhone since we feel the majority will still perceive it as something of a gimmick not relevant to their daily lives, especially for the cost. Therefore we are happy to make it a long shot that this item ever outsells the latest iPhone in any year until the end of the decade.”

Maybe self assembly will be more productive?

Stephen E Arnold, April 19, 2014

Printed Information: The Burden of Adding Value

April 14, 2014

Navigate to your local news vendor (well, there aren’t many here in Harrod’s Creek) and buy a copy of the printed edition of the New York Times. Turn to page B3 of the April 14, 2014 edition and read “Leaner and More Efficient, British Printers Push Forward in Digital Age.” You may be able to find it online at but no guarantees from the goose’s free blog.

The article contained a fascinating statement. I quote attributed to Mr. Kingston of Wyndeham, a printing company (a surviving printing company) in England:

The same applies to books and magazines, Mr. Kingston said. “We can now make a bespoke edition of any magazine; we can bind it in a different way and use special colors. We can personalize it and send it. There is much higher added value there.”

This search for added value is, I assume, a lever with which to reverse these factoids in the write up:

  • Printing has become a “peopleless business” which means that employment has cratered from 350 in one plant to 114
  • In Britain printing employed “around 200,000” in 2001 to about 125,000 when the New York Times went to print a day or so ago
  • Revenues? Ouch. “The industry’s revenue is projected to shrink to about 10 billion pounds, or approximately $17 billion, by 2017, down from more than £15 billion in the 1990s…”
  • Cheaper labor puts the squeeze on UK printers: ““So for things that are time-sensitive like magazines and have to be done in the region, the best deal might be outside of the U.K. — and you can have your products here overnight.”

The write up mentions other factors as well.

My view is that personalizing a magazine about Godzilla will put a load on “adding value’s” shoulders. Perhaps a video would be more appropriate or a social media stream, two channels not highlighted in the New York Times’ article? Stop the presses. Well, spike that.

Stephen E Arnold, April 14, 2014

IBM Puts Watson to Work to Solve “African Grand Challenges”

April 4, 2014

The article on The Telegraph titled IBM’s Watson Beat Jeopardy, Now It Wants to Win Over Africa explores IBM’s decision to open their twelfth global research center in Nairobi, Kenya. This is the first IBM research center in Africa, and the work that the supercomputer will be put to is admirable. The article states,

“‘IBMers’ from across the planet and from Kenya will work to find solutions to Africa’s grand challenges across energy, water, transportation, agriculture, healthcare, financial inclusion, human mobility and public safety. In the last decade, Africa has been a tremendous growth story, yet the continent’s challenges, stemming from population growth, water scarcity, disease, low agricultural yield and other factors are impediments to inclusive economic growth.”

Certainly big changes are happening in Africa, and Nairobi is seen as the technological heart of Africa (or somewhat tritely as Africa’s version of Silicon Valley). How IBM’s Watson will be able problem-solve such “grand challenges” remains an exciting new enterprise. IBM has funneled over a billion dollars into Watson, as well as $100 million dollars into Project Lucy, a project linked to the African research center. Project Lucy is a ten-year initiative looking into solutions to African issues through the eyes of industry and the academy and other agencies. We can all only hope for the best, but as the article somewhat ominously mentions, “no one should ever take Africa for granted.”

Chelsea Kerwin, April 04, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Spotter Offers Live Real-Time Coverage of Qatar Sporting Event

April 3, 2014

The release titled Spotter Goes Live in Doha with Qatar National Sport Day! on Spotter News explains the excitement surrounding Spotter and Mediatree’s contribution to Qatar’s event. Spotter is a media and social analytics company. The article notes that this marks the first occasion of a Middle Eastern event being covered in real time on the Live Dashboard of Spotter’s app Spotterpulse. This will be useful for event organizers in particular, who can monitor Arabic and English Twitter conversations in real time. The article expands,

“Before, during and after the event, all interested parties can access the platform to view the 4 Dashboards – “Timeline”, “Engagement”, “Organisations”, “Influencers” – and get the answers to the following questions: What is the global visibility of the event? How does the visibility evolve during the event day? What is the level of engagement of the population in Qatar? and abroad? What sports, locations and organisations gain the highest level of interest?”

Being able to compile data and learn from it will ensure an ability to improve any event. CEO of Spotter Ana Athayde stressed that all different types of events could benefit from Spotter’s technology from Sports to Business to TV and Cinema Festivals. The Spotterpulse platform allows the event organizers to gain a better understanding of the success of an event.

Chelsea Kerwin, April 03, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Glass Myths: No Mention of Self Assembly

March 21, 2014

I find Glass interesting. I find the work of Babak Amirparviz (also publishing as Babak Parviz and some variants) thought provoking. The combination of Dr. Amirparviz and Glass is fascinating. I read “The Top 10 Google Glass Myths.” I did not read about a woman cited for driving with Google Glass, stories about bar fights among non Glass wearers and Glass owners, or Google’s own how to not be a “glasshole.” Tasty, right?

In the myths there was no mention of these myths or semi factoids:

  1. Glass is part of a larger project involving self assembly of devices within a human body
  2. The contact lens is a version of work done at the University of Washington and partially supported by Microsoft
  3. The bioengineering work requires specialized facilities, not a run of the mill Silicon Valley cube
  4. The health research involves protein manipulation that could maybe permit fixing up genetic issues like hereditary health time bombs
  5. The Google robot acquisitions have a relationship to the nanotech work underway at Google.

Since no one knows about these five points, I suppose these are not really myths. The Google myths are more like marketing statements, not comments anchored in the engineering that underpins Google Glass and contact lens. Not worth worrying about since nanotech is not search. Google is a search company, not a synthetic biology outfit.

Stephen E Arnold, March 21, 2014

Appen Uses Humans to Improve Non-English Search Relevance

March 21, 2014

The Appen explanation titled Query Relevance delves into the work that the language, search and social technology company has done recently to improve natural language search. Linguist PhD Julie Vonwiller founded the company in 1996 with her engineer husband Chris Vonwiller. In 2010, Appen merged with Butler Hill Group and began making strides in language resources, search, and text. The article explores the issues at hand when it comes to natural language search,

“Even a query as seemingly simple as the word “blue” could be looking for any of the following: a description or picture of the color, a television show, a credit card, a misspelling of an electronic cigarette brand, or a rap artist. By analyzing what the most likely user intent is and returning valid and appropriate results in the correct order of relevance, we encourage a relationship whereby the user will return again and again to our client’s search engine.”

Appen has established a “global network” of locals who are trained experts in the language and local culture. This team allows for the most accurate interpretations of queries from regional users. The company is continually working to improve their processes, both through collaboration with users and advances in the program to provide the best possible results.

Chelsea Kerwin, March 21, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

HP and the Next Big Thing from Somewhere

March 19, 2014

I read “Rethinking Future Services and the Application Portfolio.” I found the write up on the or an HP blog interesting. The notion that software “supplies intellectual., property to address business problems” is also interesting.

I suppose the notion of open source software does not fit in this category. Although there are different types of licenses and plenty of commercial outfits finding ways to make money from open source software, the notion of “intellectual property” and community developed software strike me as discordant.

The HP blog asserts:

The problems are viewed as IT and not what the business needs. In order for these service providers to address the specific needs of an organization, greater service integration flexibility is required. This allows for real integration of business processes, meeting the businesses unique needs. IT that supports those business processes may come from many different sources. This flexibility will require greater data transport capabilities and analytics, turning generic processing into business differentiation. This movement of data outside the control of a service provider is the bane of most as-a-service solutions, yet when you think about it – whose data is it??

Well, what about that shift in perspective for intellectual property. From a software vendor allowing a customer use the vendor’s intellectual property to “whose data is it.” I think data is a plural but HP definitely does not feel constrained by the shackles of subject very agreement nor by the boundaries of consistent use of the phrase “intellectual property.”

I think the main point of the write up is that the new type of information technology has to offer or provide “application configuration capabilities.” I thought old fashioned configuration files could do that, but maybe I am off base. I am not sure to do with the point that people don’t know how to code.

My take away from this blog post is that HP is churning out content that just doesn’t make much sense to me. My hunch is that HP wants to support its efforts to wrench itself away from printer ink to the new and somewhat commoditized world of cloud computing.

I am probably incorrect again. HP has a big hill to climb with its about face on things that are mobile, the fascinating Autonomy repositioning, and the price cutting from Google. I am sure HP’s next big thing will come from somewhere.

Stephen E Arnold, March 19, 2014

Drone Journalism

March 18, 2014

A story brimming with video footage may just demonstrate the future of journalism. BuzzFeed shares, “This Amazing Footage Shows Why Drone Journalism is About to Go Mainstream.” (The videos are all active as soon as you land on the page, so beware of that if you have a slow connection.)

Writer Jim Waterson discusses the reasons he expects the use of unmanned aerial vehicles by news organizations to boom in the near future, illustrating each point with at least one drone-captured video clip. Foremost, of course, is the ability to take shots one couldn’t get from the ground, either because of hazardous conditions or because an aerial vantage point is desired. The write-up also notes that drones are good for time-lapse footage; the example shows an approaching storm. Another angle, so to speak: news organizations are learning that drone videos, which look very different from traditional footage, catch the eye and, perhaps, more viewers.

There are some legal issues reporters must be aware of. In Waterson’s home nation, the U.K., drones are not allowed to fly over crowds. Also, journalists must obtain qualifications from the Civil Aviation Authority before they can be legally paid for such footage.

What about cost? Photographer Lewis Whyld has been at the fore of British drone journalism. The article shares his take on getting started with drone tech:

“Whyld says a self-build drone suitable for journalism could cost ‘below a thousand pounds [about $1,670 USD], plus about £350 [about $585] to stick a GoPro camera on the front of it’ – news that will please media organisations that are short of funds. But he says there’s two approaches to making drones: ‘The BBC has quite a big budget with three of these machines and I’m just building stuff in my front room. People that don’t know what they’re doing are drawn into spending lots of money. You can get a Hollywood-standard system by buying cheaper equipment and building it up and knowing the components. Otherwise you can spend thousands and thousands – and if you crash it’s all gone.’ Basic drones for beginners – described as ‘toys’ by Whyld – cost as little as £250 [about $420].”

On top of that, of course, is the cost of those Aviation certification exams—around £1,500 (about $2,500) for one person. Whyld estimates that getting one drone journalist up and running costs over £10,000 (about $16,730). That’s a significant investment, but, according to this article, the results are well worth the cost if one does it right.

Cynthia Murrell, March 18, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

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