Friday, April 8, 2016

Is Machine* Learning the New AI Rabbit Hole ?

Machine-learning is a hot topic, and right smack in the early adopter phase. MIT Technology Review quotes Jeff Dean of Google for it's popularity:
"The enrollment in computer science program machine-learning classes is shooting through the roof."
But, how applicable is machine-learning to most problems ? Is it a powerful, but niche, technology ? Prolog is a good historic parallel, as it promised to apply AI processing that would revolutionize computing analytics. Turns out, Prolog excels at a very specific range of problems, but isn't the general purpose AI tool that everyone had hoped.

David Linthicum applies some common sense to the machine-learning debate in his article on "
Machine Learning is a Poor Fit for Most Businesses:"

"Machine learning is valuable only for use cases that benefit from dynamic learning — and there are not many of those. Examples of machine learning use cases include financial systems that deal with risk, medical diagnosis, or recommendation systems like those at
But the online transaction processing (OLTP) style of applications that run most businesses are not a good fit for machine learning."
My guess is that as more and more big data projects are developed, machine-learning will find a fertile ground for more applications (but, it'll be a slower trend than anticipated).

*Ironically, there was a misspelling in the original post. I think that is pretty funny, as it demonstrates my dependency on automated spell-checking. Thanks Bruce for the nudge.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Forget Neflix Binging, Is All I Want

MIT Media lab has built a GUI in front of the vast data store of US public records. It's the biggest time-swamp I've stepped into since the 2nd season of Daredevil. It's an amazing aggregation of data into visualization sets. It is simply, "the most comprehensive website and visualization engine of public US Government data." Look into a location and it'll break down per capita demographics from housing to health and safety.

Even more interesting, to me, than the impressive interface, and underlying search logic, is that the code is open source. All of the content on the site is presented under a GNU Affero General Public License v3.0 (GPLv3). Developers can hack together their own interface from JSON calls into the four core categories of data: geographies, occupations, industries and educational studies.

And looking back at superheroes, DataUSA includes several interesting topical narratives, as with "ARE WE HAVING FUN YET? WHO WORKS IN THE ARTS, ENTERTAINMENT, AND RECREATION INDUSTRY."
Now, not everybody who works in the industry is a rock star—or an athlete. But a surprising share of employees in the industry do, in fact, have something to do with athletics.
Well, that justifies my earlier hours with the Marvel hero of Hell's Kitchen. I wonder what else I'll discover . . .

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Ubuntu Running on Windows 10, Courtesy of Microsoft Means One Thing

Canonical and Microsoft are integrating their desktop platforms ? I'm having difficulty wrapping my mind around this coalition. After all, Canonical's #1 bug fix with Ubuntu was to address Microsoft's monopoly:

Microsoft has a majority market share in the new desktop PC marketplace. This is a bug which Ubuntu and other projects are meant to fix. As the philosophy of the Ubuntu Project states, "Our work is driven by a belief that software should be free and accessible to all."

What's this fundamental shift for Canonical mean ? It means that the desktop is the cloud. Linux is to the cloud what Microsoft OS is to the desktop. Microsoft wants more developers to use its cloud services, and Canonical is the logical partner, if not an obvious choice.

Windows 10 + Ubuntu = Worldclass Azure tools

Friday, January 29, 2016

Thinking through IoT from MIT Sloan Management

IoT is just at the early adopter stage, which is the peak of the hype cycle. What's that meme about not being able to spell idiot without IoT ? Michael Fitzgerald has a terrific piece on "Hype vs. Reality: A Reality Check on the Internet of Things" in the MIT Sloan Management Review. He covers nine topics of relevant interest. The one that sticks out for me speaks to the security of IoT as under fire before it even exists. In a reference to Cisco's Chris Young's interview with The Register, he says that the criminal element has one focus: "They're stealing money, they're stealing information, or they're trying to disrupt someone's operations. Those are all problems that we see in the physical world. It's just magnified and scaled in a way that we can't contemplate in our own physical world."

Hopefully, IoT can be built out slowly, with security introduced on the ground floor. After all, we all know what happened with the creation of email.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Every Year It's the Same -- the Future is Not What it Used to Be

Every Saturday I have a video chat with my Dad, who is 87 and 3,000 miles away. On one hand, it's amazing to be able to communicate so simply and directly. His phone is voice controlled, "OK Google," and his transportation has been happily Uberized.

However, my present is his future, which was imagined in the thirties and forties. No matter how much incredible tech is created or changes are made in geo-politics--it's still a downer from the dreams of yesteryear. The take-away lesson ? We still have a lot of work to do.

Welcome to 2016, yesterday's future, today.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Content Marketing is on the Rise -- but there is Immense Potential on Images versus Copy

"Visual assets have taken on a broader role and are responsible for continually and consistently representing your brand, communicating your value proposition, and cultivating brand image on a daily basis, " so says Jerry Kane is an associate professor of information systems at the Carroll School of Management at Boston College and the MIT Sloan Management Review guest editor for the Digital Business Initiative.

If you have responsibility for SEO, or any aspect of web analytics, then the Rise of Visual Content Online is a must read. In a short space, Jerry summarizes a shift in content presentation that is drawing on visual content (photo and video) to graphically engage the reader.
Nearly 60% of all digital impressions are now driven by images. Unsurprisingly, 70% of marketers are planning to increase their use of original visual assets this year, meaning these brands are not just repurposing images and video, but creating new visual content.
I'm accepting Professor Kane's analysis, but it does seem an odd twist that many news outlets have culled out their professional photography staff. 
As we become more saturated with visual imagery, we also become much more sophisticated consumers of it. Defaulting to adding a stock image into a post or an email is no longer sufficient. Quality imagery is a must, especially in the face of the millions of iPhone owners turned amateur photographers. Visual assets demand more time and investment to stand out among the trillions of images competing for consumer attention.
Maybe the core news photography hasn't been keeping pace with the advancing discernment of the general public ?  So, just to be in the game, that click-bait image of a dragon is my own capture from visiting Diagon Alley in Universal Orlando.

Aguamenti !

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Happy Holidays. Here's a Security Gift -- Guidelines to Protect your Privacy.

Welcome to the holidays ! It's the season for many credit and identity scams.
As a just-in-time reminder to protect your private security and financial interests, I've created a checklist as a Google document for this downer subject.
These guidelines are based on the most recent security research.