Around the web: Episode #5

We have lots to talk about today, so let us get on with it. I’ll obviously start with a video.

No. 1

Microsoft had their Build event on yesterday in the US, and lots of goodies came out of it. One of them is, like I mentioned yesterday, some bits and bobs from Linux coming to Windows. Now for me this is not very interesting, I dual boot my PC into Linux in any case, and I have a VM ready if I can’t switch right away.

Let’s roll to the second point of today’s post, which I am WAY more excited about.

No. 2

As I said the Build event was on yesterday, and it’s on today as well. The more interesting talk was about Artificial Intelligence, and bots. Microsoft has announced their Bot Framework, a framework that offers conversation agents to the masses. This can be tied into their other new service called the Cognitive Services, which are APIs to machine learning algorithms that can make your applications smarter.

The trend seems that we’re going to be building more intelligent applications. Add personal assistant into your software! That could well be the ultimate user friendly application. The examples of the applications just scratch the surface of the possibilities. There is a lot that these services can be used for, in a number of different fields. For us as a software development company, it’s only natural to grow our software along these routes.

On the other end of the spectrum we have IBM building a brain inspired super computer!

No. 3

Let’s talk about ad blockers. I won’t really, but I do use one. I’ll let the talking be done by others, and it’s been a hot topic the last week. “Why are so many people using ad blockers?“, offers us two points of view, the article takes the malware route, and the data usage route. “The Rise of Ad Blockers Reveals The Shocking Truth of Internet Ads“, gripping title, isn’t it? “Was the Great Ad Blocker Freakout of 2015 Justified?“, well I don’t know, and the writer doesn’t offer anything to answer the question, but it’s a great title to get more traffic to your site. “Why ad block tech – and the battle around it – favors the consumer“, is a bit more of a level headed view on the topic. Finally; “Using Adblock Plus to block ads is legal, rules German court—for the fifth time“.

Why do I use it? Because the constant flickering of ads annoy me when I am trying read something. I know you’re trying to catch my eye, and since there is no way of shutting you off when I am done looking at you, I have to take matters into my own hands. For an industry that is all about gripping content and getting our attention, they are not very creative in solving their problem that is ad blockers.

No. 4

Actually more interesting than ad blockers; Did you know that you can develop Android apps without using C++ and/or Java? Of course you did! Let’s both eagerly read about Kotlin’s Android roadmap. Come on!

No. 5

Let me start by saying sorry. This is another post on Microsoft…

Firstly, Visual Studio 2015 Update 2 is out. Get it here, and read about it here.

Secondly, Visual C++ for Linux, seriously. Have a look here.

That’s it for today, hope you have an awesome day!


Around the web: Episode #4

The eggs have been found, they were delicious, and so it was time to go back to work! I didn’t post yesterday, I was a little busy, and also didn’t find much interesting news. Today is another day, and I have tons to share with you! Let’s begin:

No. 1

It’s beginning to become a bit of a tradition to start the post with a video. Besides, who doesn’t like Mario?

No. 2

Google is very busy with their Cloud offerings, and now they’re opening up the Speech section of their Cloud as well. As a developer, go sign up for their Speech API.

At home we jokingly call the “OK Google” voice Alice, and with access to the Speech API we can build a more personal Alice. Not that there is not love for Cortana, but it would be nice if I didn’t have to be so rude to her when I call her. “Hey Cortana”, could be more of a “Excuse me Cortana”. Using SIML and the Speech API you can make your own Digital Assistant.

No. 3

Microsoft and, the company behind Ubuntu, Canonical are working on bringing bits of the Linux Operating System to Windows 10. Today they will go into more detail about this at the Microsoft Build event. So I’ll come back to update this a bit later today, or latest tomorrow morning again. Have a read over at ZDNet on what we can possibly expect from this partnership.

No. 4

A technology company wants us to know that they are not building Minority Report, but a piece of software that predicts crime areas. Make sense to me. But, according to this article, all the software does really is just tell the police to go check out possible crime in areas they are already looking. The tech company also has a bit of a dodgy way of making sure it’s being used. The police departments have to recommend the software, hold press conferences about using it, before they get access to it.

It would be so weird to go an talk to a Whisky company, tell them we’re a small Software Development Company in Scotland, we have an awesome product, tell them to go and talk to their friends, write to newspapers about us, if they want to use it.

No. 5

Going to space is expensive. It seems that going with NASA is going to be even more expensive. They’re upgrading their launch software, and taking the term budget with a truckload of salt.

No. 6

We love Python at GX Consultancy! It’s an awesome language, both in the use of scripting larger datasets, and as a teaching tool. Most of the languages we use aren’t split into two version numbers, but Python is. Someone over at Microsoft wrote a positive blog post about the possibility of leaving one of them behind this year.

No. 7 

The last article is about an awesome breakthrough in quantum computing. In order for Quantum computing to step out of the realm of science fiction, it requires an awful lot of simplifications in certain processes. This new technology will make it easier to create useful processing circuits. Without it you would need ridiculous amounts of resources to cope with all the different logic gate chains that would make up the processing circuit for a quantum computer.

For a neat example of logic gates, have look at some built with pulleys:

If that is still not clear, the BBC can explain it in a funny, but cruel, cartoon.

After watching that, and you want to know more about Quantum Computers, have a look at this Khan series on YouTube, done by Michael Nielsen.

Around the web: Episode #3

It’s a public holiday, the sun is out, you should not be reading this, so why am I writing this? Being a young company means you put in some sacrifices to get to a certain goal. The goal post obviously moves further ahead as you grow. We love what we do.

Remember that post about this dependency companies were using that broke their software? Well it’s still a hot topic, jokes galore! Like this one, or this one, taking it a step further, and a level up. In the midst of the dependency trend was a message from the people behind Kik, I added that yesterday to the dependency post. The development community fired back at their poor choice of words, right here. It doesn’t get much juicier than this for us software developers.

In case you missed the wonderfully funny episode of Microsoft’s good intentions backfiring, here is a link to the aftermath of the twitter AI bot named Tay.

No. 1

Today’s number one spot goes to Daimler showing off their connected trucks.

It’s a thing of beauty that you just have to watch.

No. 2

This is a bit of a combination of posts, so please bear with me.

The first link is a video to a great talk about what technological forces we can await in the not too distant future.

For us as a Software Development Consultancy in Scotland, creating Enterprise Software, the inclusion of an intelligent agent at some point seems almost like a natural progression. Now that we are able to incorporate technology like RFID, we can get out of the way of certain processes, still track, but also focus more on monitoring. Use the learning part of the software to optimize processes.

It does feel as though a lot of scaremongering, surrounding intelligence and robotics, is taking place at the moment. A headline like; “When Robots Take Our Jobs, Should Everyone Still Get a Paycheck?“, is not a single instance of a larger corporation sending scary headlines into the ether. Loads of sites focus on the jobs that will be lost, the people that will be unemployed, the economies that will get affected.

As a parent I find it hilarious that my child’s teacher is worried about my child’s handwriting skills. Repeating a word in cursive fifty times is going to be utterly useless by the time they go to high school.  It’s time to sit together with schools, government, and businesses. We need to start addressing the disconnect between the developments in technology, the possibilities of smarter societies, and the current system of education.

What we want to avoid is more people, being so dependent on technology without understanding it, creating headlines like; “Worker Blames Google Maps After Tearing Down Wrong House“. It’s funny, but it’s not.

No. 3

Let’s have a look at the near future at No. 3.

This one is old news, but it’s been discovered by the people of Scientific American, and posted 2 days ago. “Automated Grocery Store Replaces Store Clerk with a Phone App“.

Are you sick and tired of doing your laundry? Fear no more, this fabric will clean itself! “No more washing: Nano-enhanced textiles clean themselves with light“.

Together with the Hyperloop, the next gen transportation buzz on-line is supersonic air travel. “Affordable Hypersonic Jets Could Be High-Flying Reality by 2023“.

While some want to go fast, others want to turn the dial down a bit. “Airships could be returning for commercial travel“.

Now here’s a good question; “Could Harvesting Fog Help Solve the World’s Water Crisis?“. If you feel that the article reads like a novel, just have a look at the caption below the first image.

That’s it for today. If you have any questions regarding anything technology related, or want to know about Software Development at GX Consultancy, let us know.

Around the web: Episode #2

It’s another day, and lots of things have happened around the world wide web. Let’s dig in.

No. 0

I actually procured this one last, but any good list starts at 0.

No. 1

The talk of the town, for the number one spot is ‘left-pad’. Some large companies were depending on a resource that basically pads a string to the left, this got removed and their internet broke. People are getting quite dramatic about it with headlines like “NPM & left-pad: Have We Forgotten How To Program?“, or “A discussion about the breaking of the Internet“.

No. 2

As a Software Development Company in Scotland looking to hire people, I try to do some research on hiring practices from other companies. I really do not believe in stressing a candidate out so much they break apart during the interview. This post definitely got a giggle out of me though; “Here are Google, Amazon and Facebook’s Secrets to Hiring the Best People“.  #6 Could be a fun one to do, the idea of a fox hunt around our offices does sound rather appealing.

No. 3

Do you have the brains for cybersecurity?“, the BBC asks us. The article gives us some challenges, so we get the feeling that if we can solves the challenges in cryptography and cyphers, you have what it takes. Of course we all know cybersecurity isn’t all about deciphering cryptic messages. Some times, a lot of the times, what is standing in your way to your goal is a human.

No. 4

DARPA is taking the shift of the singularity back to the human. “DARPA WANTS TO HACK YOUR BRAIN“, this article is titled. They want to speed up the process of our learning abilities.

Around the web: Episode #1

In the morning I procure quite a bit of links on the web for our GX Consultancy Facebook page, and only today thought that perhaps I can put the links into blog posts as well. Most of those links are related to Technology, and Software Development.

So today is Episode #1 of my interesting finds on the web.

No. 1

I’m going to start with a video about a presentation. Now this might not seem very interesting, perhaps until you find out the presenter does the presentation on a MEGA65 prototype in Commodore 64 mode.

In the beginning Dr. Paul Gardner-Stephen starts off by stating that perhaps today’s computers are too complex for students (upcoming programmers) to grasp what hardware they are building on. He clarifies that back in the 80s the computers were a lot more bare-bones and easier to hack. The programmers from the 70s and the 80s had a better understanding of the hardware so they were able to develop software more carefully, he carefully states. The effect the current computers have, he observed, is that the students handle their machines a lot more symptomatically. His main question, he would like to explore in the next two years is; Can we recreate the deep understanding facilitated by the 1980s computers? (And should we even try). Have a look at what he says this might look like.

It’s an interesting talk for us as a small Software Development here in Scotland. Around us there is very little knowledge about Technology as a whole. We feel it makes us in a way responsible to make sure that those around us don’t get lost or swallowed up by the rate at which Technology is growing. Some of the technology that is normal for some people in certain other areas of the country, might seem like science fiction to others. This video is a bit of a reminder of where we came from, and how we could possibly build a bridge for those who feel they are on a deserted island.

No. 2

The next link is a blog post titled; “How Apple is clueless to income disparity and the environmental impact of ditching older PCs“.

It’s an entertaining look at the recent Apple Event, and a criticism of some of Apple’s announcements.

The Telegraphy chimes in on the Apple Event as well. With an article dramatically titled; “The iPad was supposed to kill the PC. What happened?

For us it doesn’t matter what hardware you buy, we can develop software for most devices in a number of languages that fit the hardware. All we care about is that you buy something that you need, instead of it having to just look fancy. We develop software for devices that run Windows Mobile 5.0, devices that run Android, Windows XP (and every iteration after that), and if you really want on Apple’s products. We build for the job at hand, on the hardware best for the job.

No. 3

We love our science fiction, it captures our imagination. Imagination is what drives us to come up with interesting new solutions. We wouldn’t be where we are if we didn’t have imagination. This next article borders science fiction titled; “Project Greenglow and the battle with gravity“. Sounds epic, doesn’t it?

I especially love this bit from the article: “John Ellis at Cern is particularly scathing: “With the EmDrive, unlike a rocket, nothing comes out of it. So I don’t see how you can generate momentum out of nothing.”” If quantum physics has taught us anything, it would be that this is one weird place we live in. Use a little imagination, perhaps you stumble upon something you didn’t see before. In the words of Carl Sagan: “We Humans Are Capable Of Greatness“.

No. 4

This final bit is about two articles, they both signify a trend in articles for about a year now. The first one is titled: “American Workers Are in Serious Denial About the Future“. The second one: “Regulators Are Woefully Underprepared for A.I. They Could Learn From Go Champion Lee Sedol“. These both deserve full on blog post discussions, and I probably will in the not too distant future spend some time writing about this. For us as a Software Development Consultancy they’re topics close to our heart.

I will conclude this post with links to some other interesting finds:

OLO – The First Ever Smartphone 3D Printer.

Microsoft A.I chatbot for Twitter, Tay is here to disrupt your productivity

Physicists Unleash AI to Devise Unthinkable Experiments

Applying neuroscience to software development

Microsoft open sources Visual Studio Productivity Power Tools