October 13, 2015

Work in Transition

It’s likely that work done by humans will increasingly involve innovative thinking, flexibility, creativity, and social skills, the things machines don’t do well. In a recent study on automation from the University of Oxford, researchers tried to quantify how likely jobs are to be computerized by evaluating how much creativity, social intelligence, and dexterity they involve. Choreographers, elementary school teachers, and psychiatric social workers are probably safe, according to that analysis, while telemarketers and tax preparers are more likely to be replaced. Most professions won’t go the way of the telemarketer, but the work involved is likely to migrate toward the tasks humans are uniquely skilled at, with automation taking over tasks that are rules-based and predictable.

Honda Using Experimental New ASIMO for Disaster Response Research

The robot was never intended to be a disaster mitigation robot; it was designed to work in offices, specifically the kind of offices that have notexperienced an earthquake, explosion, alien invasion, sharknado, or other messy event. Honda is clearly aware of ASIMO’s limitations in tackling these kinds of situations, and that’s probably why (as we reported two years ago) the company has been developing a new version of ASIMO that is specifically designed for disasters. At the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) this week, Honda engineers presented a pair of papers on research they’re doing with disaster-response humanoid robots.

Big Data Really Freaks This Guy Out

Ceglowski, who comes across a bit like a paranoid Ray Romano, also has an issue with the validity of the findings from big data. “There’s a con going on here,” he said. “On the data side they say, ‘Hey just collect everything. Collect all the data and we have these magical algorithms that will find everything in it for you.’ But on the algorithm side, where I am, they tell us ‘Throw any code you have at it–we have this awesome training data and we have enough of it that you’re sure to surface something interesting.'” The problem, Ceglowski said, is that any big data analysis that involves people has a built-in self-destruct mechanism. “Human beings always ruin everything,” he said.

Microservices: Simple servers, complex security

As Garrett explained, "The attack surface of a microservices app can be much greater [than a traditional monolithic application]." With older apps, "the attack surface is very linear -- traffic hits the load balancer, then the Web (presentation tier), and then the application and data tiers." But with microservices, Garrett noted the flow is entirely different: "It's generally necessary to expose a large number of different services so that external applications can address them directly, leading to a much greater attack surface." "If you break up your application into smaller services," said Kelsey Hightower, product manager and chief advocate for CoreOS, "you'll need a more robust authentication/authorization solution between each service.

Emerging: DataOps and three tips for getting there

"DataOps is a data management method that emphasizes communication, collaboration, integration, automation and measurement of cooperation between data engineers, data scientists and other data professionals." As with any new approach, the pioneers haven't sorted out the language just yet: While Palmer refers to it as a "data management method," Bergh calls it an "analytic development method" that should be overseen by a chief data officer or a chief analytics officer. (The Bergh team refers to DataOps as AnalyticOps.) In either case, the ultimate goal is to accelerate analytics. And, regardless of how businesses decide to practice DataOps, successful programs will require IT expertise in the form of data integration, data quality, data security and data governance, according to Palmer and Bergh.

SAP unveils SaaS analytics platform

"Whether you're in the boardroom or in front of a customer, there is a fit solution that will meet your needs," Smith says. "By bringing these capabilities together on a single platform, there's advantages those users can get — commonalities in collaboration and business process and workflow that can help bring these capabilities together."...  "SAP Cloud for Analytics was transformational by allowing real-time updates to our plans, collaboration across the organization from within the app, advanced analytics and one-click visualization for our users," Stephen Hayes, analytics manager, Live Oak Bank, said in a statement today. "The end-user experience was well-received from our leadership team to our analysts."

VMware Value Lies In Modern Data Center Management

Unlike the IBM mainframe, VMware is a software company, one that so far has been able to evolve its product lines rapidly. For example, on Tuesday, Oct. 13, at VMworld in Barcelona, VMware introduced vRealize Automation 7, which gives enterprise IT or a DevOps team the ability to generate a graphical blueprint that can lead to a deployable system. On the blueprint a team can identify different parts of an application spread over many machines, then assign the application-appropriate networking and security. The system described in the blueprint will tend to be on-premises, but parts of it can exist in Amazon Web Services or an OpenStack Kilo cloud.

The missing ingredient for effective problem management

The missing ingredient in a typical implementation is skilled problem managers using a consistent, evidence-based, structured approach to solving problems. By structured, I mean either to adopt one of the major problem-solving frameworks such as Kepner and Fourie and follow it consistently, with all problem managers using it the same way and all the time. ... Technical knowledge is useful to give the confidence to challenge subject matter experts, particularly if they are invoking their deep technical knowledge to suggest that their opinion should be accepted without question. Problem managers should always seek evidence to support assertions, ensure that alternatives are properly assessed and that actions proposed are sensible

Q&A and Book Review of Software Development Metrics

Velocity is another metric that depends on certain assumptions. It depends on (1) a time-boxed process model, and (2) incremental delivery of production-ready features at least to a test environment. Provided these assumptions hold, Velocity is useful for short-term planning and also to accumulate empirical data for burn charts, which in turn can expose emerging delivery risks. So, it's useful for steering in cases when the work is done in a certain way. In my experience, Velocity is a little too slippery to use for tracking improvement. There are three reasons. First, a team's improvement efforts might include changing the length of the time-boxed iterations or shifting away from a time-boxed model altogether.

Tech Firms Laud Obama's Retreat on Encrypted-Data Law

Battered by Edward Snowden’s revelations that they aided in NSA surveillance, technology companies have leaped at the chance to showcase features such as encryption that help deter hackers. Apple, for example, helped set off the debate by announcing that iPhones would automatically encrypt data stored on them and that Apple couldn’t help the government unlock the information. What companies have rarely mentioned is that the data sought most often by police and American intelligence services -- text messages, e-mails, photos and calling records -- can still be legally obtained with court orders. That’s true no matter how much encryption is used to prevent unauthorized parties from accessing them, as Bloomberg News reported last October.

Quote for the day:

"When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world." -- George W. Carver

October 12, 2015

The merger of Dell and EMC stems from the rise of cloud computing

All of which helps to explain why Messrs Dell and Tucci are keen to merge their companies. Consolidation would give the merged firm more bargaining power, not least when dealing with big cloud providers themselves, and would also gel with another trend in the IT industry: converged infrastructure. Traditionally, servers, storage devices and networking equipment have been sold separately. Now they are being increasingly offered in integrated bundles by one vendor, sparing customers the tedious task of making them work together—a trend that has been pioneered by EMC in a joint venture with Cisco, a big maker of networking gear.

10 new words you need to know in Silicon Valley

A startup incubator provides management support and office space and other business resources for new companies trying to get off the ground. AngelPad is the biggest incubator in Silicon Valley. An accelerator has a tighter, shorter-term focus. The idea is to rapidly build a business in a few months, if not weeks, so that the company can succeed or crash quickly without too great of a loss. Accelerators offer mentorship for developing ideas and business plans, and provide an infusion of cash and employees, so that the company can function on its own quickly -- or fail fast.Y Combinator is the top accelerator in the valley.

5 ways the internet of things will change your everyday life

Coffee machines will chug into gear just in time to hand us a fresh cup as we walk out the door, as the lights, once more, operate throughout the day to make it seem like somebody is home. Smart doorbells – think Ring – will alert us when there is someone at the door, meaning we can accept deliveries even when abroad, or appear to be home even when in work. Pets won’t go unaffected, either, with a smart doggy door opening and closing as our pooch goes in and out of the back garden, while the humble smart watch connects to a home system so we can communicate with our lonely dogs, or a programmed laser toy can keep cats entertained.

Understanding basics of Recommendation Engines (with case study)

Ever wondered, “what algorithm google uses to maximize its target ads revenue?”. What about the e-commerce websites which advocates you through options such as ‘people who bought this also bought this’. Or “How does Facebook automatically suggest us to tag friends in pictures”? The answer is Recommendation Engines. With the growing amount of information on world wide web and with significant rise number of users, it becomes increasingly important for companies to search, map and provide them with the relevant chunk of information according to their preferences and tastes. Companies nowadays are building smart and intelligent recommendation engines by studying the past behavior of their users.

Microsoft Researchers Are Working on Multi-Person Virtual Reality

Microsoft is testing a commercial augmented reality product, called HoloLens. Lanier stresses that his work is separate from HoloLens and does not reflect how that product will develop. Still, multi-person mixed reality is a long-standing challenge for those interested in the technology. Beyond gaming, there is hope that virtual and augmented reality could prove useful for communications, collaboration, and for new ways of accessing and handling information. Lanier’s project is called Comradre (and pronounced “comradery”). A video produced by Lanier’s lab shows several projects developed by student interns in which more than one person interacts with the same virtual object or phenomena.

Big Data & Brews from Strata NY 2015: Tony Baer on Spark in the Hadoop Ecosystem

It’s really about a whole ecosystem. The fact is, is that it started getting into this contemplation of what is Hadoop? The fact is that what you’re really looking is a big data platform and ecosystem of technologies, and hopefully you’re working with technology providers that hopefully will simplify all this because the result is that you want to take advantage of innovations in scale-out clusters, commodity hardware, commodity software, so you can get results that are not commodity. ... The idea of simplifying Spark and making Spark accessible, so you can use it with tools, such as Datameer for instance. Their survey basically said that roughly about half, 49 percent I think was the exact, were using Spark basically stand alone

How to implement integrated management systems

When talking about an integrated management system (IMS), we mean systems where we deal with as many requirements as possible in the same way. E.g., if two systems have policy requirements (like management approval, revision, and communication), why don’t we deal with them the same way? Why don’t we control documents and records in the same form? When thinking about integrating management systems, there are many courses of action to be considered based on the organization’s context, the number of existing systems, and the systems’ maturity, for example. In terms of standards requirements, you can use PAS 99 as a guide (it can help you map and define one set of documentation, policies, procedures, and processes suitable for all of your management systems).

Kroger CIO: Four lessons for strategic IT

Kroger is a huge company, with almost $110 billion in revenue and 400,000 employees. Given his experience, Chris' perspective is highly valuable and can teach us a lot. As a brief summary, here are his four points on how a CIO can contribute strategically: Earn credibility as a reliable service provider; Learn the business profoundly well; Develop relationships with leaders across the company; and Rely on experts, both internal and external to the organization, to help you keep up with the latest technology. This simple advice presents a roadmap for CIO and IT relevance. However, executing the four-step program requires infrastructure, process, people, and technology. In other words, it's far easier said than done.

Future-proof your IT outsourcing contract: A CIO checklist

Getting each part of an IT outsourcing contract nailed down is labor-intensive. Pace Harmon, for example, "takes a shot" at writing the SLAs but at some point brings in the client's subject matter experts to go through the document line by line. "It's not easy, it's a grind," Sealock said. A word of caution: If the price per unit of work seems too good to be true, it probably is. Service providers eager to break into an industry are known to agree to a price point that is too low to meet the agreed-upon SLA. Once on the job and under pressure to improve margins, the service provider will start cutting corners. Another reason to get the alignment right on SOW, SLA and price?

Big Data Solutions with MS SQL ColumnStore Index

The primary purpose of the MS SQL CS Index was to enable the download of as much data as possible to memory and work with this memory when processing data, as opposed to reading it from the disc. Two advantages of this innovation were higher speed and lower HDD IOPS costs. But the product was not perfect. Even though the problem of read-only mode in the 2012 version was fixed with the 2014 clustered CS Index that lets you modify data in the table, it turned out with the clustered CS, it was impossible to have simple indices with calculable fields, foreign keys and triggers. When working with data, it is important to know which method of indexing is the most effective in which scenarios.

Quote for the day:

"Adding manpower to a late software project, makes it later.” -- Frederick Brooks Jr.

October 11, 2015

Collaborating in a shared service management environment

The processes for IT, facilities and human resources (HR) are broadly similar and do overlap, such as with commencement and exit procedures, and can easily be brought together in a single tool to manage. However, even when doing so and when supporting departments have their own tools and processes, it is not always clear to end users where they should turn for support. For instance, in practice the management of mobile phones can be sourced to each of these departments, or a combination thereof. The collaboration between IT, facilities and HR, also called shared service management, cuts costs and improves the quality of service for end users.

Man vs. machine circa 2018: A reality check on Gartner's crystal ball

Plummer said that IT leaders need to view things as customers and work to satisfy "their nonhuman requests." Reality check: This prediction sounds like it came from Salesforce, which is betting on the machine-thing-customer connection. Things requesting support won't be a surprise. ...
3 million workers will be supervised by a roboboss by 2018. Reality check: The theory here is that humans will focus on creativity, relations and strategic planning. Umm ok. Societal norms as well as politics will likely to put off the roboboss for a few more years. ... Half of the fastest growing companies will have more smart machines than people by 2018. Reality check: Not surprising, but 50 percent may be a bit too high for that time frame.

Seven Essentials for Building Your 2016 Dream Team

We all know success will be a team effort. So you send your best reps into the battle. But what if you don’t have enough “best reps”? Simple. You hire more. That may not seem so simple. But what if you had a defined process for bringing in the right reps? That’s what we’re going to discuss in this post. We’ll talk about how to hire pros who can get the job done. ... The seven essentials all are action items. They’ll help you bring in revenue-focused people who can get you to goal. But it’s not enough to know what the seven are. Each is a separate entity with plenty for you to consider. In the end, they fit together into a unified whole: your talent strategy.

Amazon’s growing clout in cloud computing stirs questions

In the past decade, Amazon has come to dominate yet another business: cloud computing. And now, as Amazon Web Services solidifies its grip on the business of selling computing services to companies over the Internet, it’s having to answer the sort of questions that dogged Microsoft when it ruled desktop computing: Will it lock customers in to its technology? Will it squish smaller tech companies that pioneer AWS niches when those businesses become lucrative? Now nearly 10 years old, AWS has left giants such as Microsoft and Google in its wake. Market-research firm Gartner thinks AWS is “the overwhelming market share leader,” running more than 10 times the infrastructure cloud-computing capacity as the next 14 largest rivals combined.

Development & Technology for Marketing Content: A Look at The Future

The marketing and development industries can’t afford to stay siloed any longer. Search marketers need to understand how JavaScript front end technologies work. Designers need to understand browser rendering technologies. Developers need to be staying abreast of marketing campaigns and the technologies behind them. Only teams where there’s cross-discipline understanding are going to be able to produce truly exceptional marketing content, and the gap between those agencies and clients and everyone else is only going to get more obvious as the rate of progress hastens. ... Very quickly, your skill sets are going to become interdependent on other creative disciplines

Too much information... the threat of mass surveilance

Snowden, the fugitive former NSA analyst, caused another stir this week when he revealed how British spies can turn smartphones belonging to suspects on and off from a remote location, and record what is happening around them. The spying agency effectively takes over the phone, and it can be used to track the target. This is what one would expect from a spying agency, but variations of this kind of snooping technology are widely available, and can even be used by ordinary individuals. Using smartphone technology to spy on another person is remarkably easy, according to Noonan. "Ordinary iPhones have a feature called Find My Phone, and once you have the password, you can find out where the phone is. So it acts as a tracking device."

Hacks to perform faster Text Mining in R

Text Mining, is one of the most frequent yet challenging exercise faced by beginners in data science / analytics experts. The biggest challenge is one needs to thoroughly assess the underlying patterns in text, that too manually. For example: it is pretty common to delete numbers from the text before we do any kind of text mining. But what if we want to extract something like “24/7”. Hence, the text cleansing exercise is highly personalized as per the objective of the exercise and the type of text patterns. ... You may find numerous ways on internet to do sentiment analysis. However, subject extraction is very specific to the context. In this article, I have shared the top 4 hacks applied in the industry to do subject extraction in R.

Compliance and ITSM

Now if you take the word compliant and put it into a translator, or search on Wiki, you get something like this: abide by others, docile, obeying, obliging, agreeing with a set of rules, adherence to standards, regulations, and other requirements. Now there are definitely different compliances to be compared to but, in general, you comply with a need or rule set up by others or yourself. ... Whether it is a process or requirement, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is how compliant you are, and that’s the tricky part. What risk are you willing to take? Do you understand the ‘data or information’ you have? Do you have the knowledge to see the risks and take decisions on the level of compliance you want or need? What actions you need to take?.

Code Signing certificates becoming popular cybercrime commodity

When cybercriminal create malicious code, their purpose is to make it appear as legitimate as possible. This is done by using signing certificates to sign their code. By stealing private keys of certificates using Trojan horses or by compromising the certificate key builder of software vendors, cybercriminals manage to get access to code signing certificates. When the researchers discovered that fraudsters used valid certificated, the first thing that came to their mind is that they somehow manage to acquire them directly from the certificate’s issuer. ... It can be rather difficult to separate legitimate from dummy companies and this is due to the fact that cybercriminals take all the required steps for making it appear as authentic.

Quote for the day:

"There is a difference between knowing the path & walking the path." -- Morpheus