January 01, 2016

Happy New Year, techies ! 

Algorithms: Turning Data Into Products

Algorithms rely on data. If you can get results from clear data, you can spot patterns, such as why a query is returning the wrong results, according to Surabhi Gupta, engineering manager at Airbnb. For companies such as Google and Airbnb, algorithms are their "product." In the simplest terms, a Google search algorithm has to produce an effective search result. That search result is the company's product. Airbnb's algorithms have to connect travelers with those offering accomodations. Practical expediency governs how algorithms are used and referenced. In the business world, algorithms are built for speed. "You are working with people with the expectation of immediate answers," said Google's Marshall. "Your algorithm has another constraint on it." In the end, a developer is taking a sub-optimal solution that runs fast, and comparing it to the optimal solution to see how close the two compare, he added.

The Impact of IoT on Data Science and Analytics

Of all the trends that will shape data science and analytics over the next few years, the Internet of Things (IoT) promises to have the most profound impact of all. In keeping with the publishing tradition of saying goodbye to one year, and hello to a new one, with top prediction lists, I have complied my thoughts on what is in store for the IoT in 2016 (and beyond). ... Disintermediation will be the word of 2016, as the tipping point has been reached and companies start reaping benefits of the investments in automated decisioning systems which will evolve in AI (yet another way in which robots will emerge). By removing human touch points from especially administrative processes, massive layoffs will make headlines. And public debate will rise on the ethical aspects of robotization in our society.

Will new regulations affect fintech startups in Hong Kong?

Fintech, or financial technology. The ubiquitous yet mysterious word usually references startups that are using technology to provide alternative or “disruptive” financial solutions. Fintech has been a buzzword as of late, rising as one of the most compelling sectors in Hong Kong’s startup scene. Attend any startup event or conferences touting creativity and you’ll hear something along the lines of how Hong Kong is well positioned to rise as a fintech hub akin to Singapore and Australia.  This would be exciting as fintech can ease payment processes and money transfers, generally moving a traditional industry forward. Hong Kong has already seen an increase in fintech-centric accelerators:

The Biggest Security Threats We’ll Face in 2016

Data sabotage can be much more difficult to detect than the kind of physical destruction caused by Stuxnet. That’s because data alterations can be so slight yet have enormous consequences and implications. Anyone remember the Lotus 1-2-3 bug back in the 90s that would produce accounting miscalculations in spreadsheets under certain conditions? That was an unintentional error. But attackers could get into financial and stock-trading systems to alter data and force stock prices to rise or fall, depending on their aim. ... There’s no evidence yet that the Juniper backdoor was installed by the NSA; it’s more likely that an NSA spying partner—possibly the UK or Israel—or a US adversary installed it.

Continuously Improving Your Lean-Agile Coaching

Rachel Davies describes a compatible approach in her book Agile Coaching. She was an original member of one of the first, most prolific, longest running extreme-programming (XP) teams at ConneXtra, and she is now an agile coach at Unruly. Joseph Pelrine, a computer and social-complexity scientist and leading XP expert, has a similar perspective. He uses complexity science to explain the theory behind agile and Scrum and uses social complexity to guide and coach self-organising teams. This view aligns with the coach role that Kent Beck, creator of XP, gives in the book Extreme Programming Explained. .... While each of these authors expands on some of aspect of lean-agile coaching, they all describe a role with all the aspects I mentioned before: hard and the soft skills, teaching/training to support growth and development, and guidance and support during delivery.

Cybersecurity and the Twenty-First Century Board of Directors

Just as boards require directors with expertise in finance, today they must also have directors with experience in cybersecurity. It takes qualified board members to provide oversight by knowing what questions to raise and how to assess management's responses. Symantec recognized this a few years ago when they recruited U.S. Air Force General Suzanne Vautrinot to the board. During her 31 year tenure with the USAF, "she led large-scale, diverse, global organizations that operate, extend, maintain, and defend global networks." Not only does General Vautrinot have the advanced degrees and board experience, she also "oversaw a multi-billion dollar global cyber enterprise with 14,000 military, civilians, and contractors.

Simpler management motivates Ethernet SAN investments

"It encouraged the SAN and Ethernet networking teams to work more closely together and closely with the systems team," Masseth said. Before, the FC guys thought the Ethernet team didn't understand lossless, or the importance of uptime. Now, Masseth said, whenever UA has an outage, incident or complex build to tackle, fingers aren't pointing at the other team. "They roll up their sleeves and find and fix the problems." Ethernet-based storage protocols offer attractive cost profiles through reuse of existing network infrastructure and management expertise, said IDC's Casemore. Lower cost when scaling out storage infrastructure was important to 35% of survey respondents when considering Ethernet SAN options. Masseth found that FCoE did reduce costs for UA, but this might not be the case for other builds, he warned.

Async await with Web Forms over multiple postbacks

Support for asynchronous procedures (using async / await) is great in C# and VB languages, and works very well in desktop (WinForms, WPF, console and others) applications. But there are web applications, like based on ASP.NET Web Forms, where support for asynchronous procedures are much less exposed. Microsoft itself states, that support for asynchrony (using async / await or other methods) is only limited to offload working threads, increase throughput and all asynchronous procedures must complete work before rendering phase (generating HTML). But there are also much more useful scenarios, where asynchronous procedure is started in some postback, and completed in one of subsequent postbacks, so executing spans over multiple postacks. This allow for UI driven asynchronous processing, which is useful for most web apps.

Thriving On Data #4 - Data Apart Together

The modern reality of technical evolution is that the conservative approach is the one that embraces delivery and operation changes more aggressively and focuses less on individual technologies. This view on information underpins the Business Data Lake which Capgemini co-innovated with Pivotal in 2013 and has since been adopted by both Informatica and EMC. Data Apart Together is not simply about how you combine data; it’s about recognizing that information often is apart for a reason. It is partner data they don’t want to share in the raw, it’s personal information that has to be kept in a specific geography, or its separate due to an acquisition and the sheer volume of information makes it unreasonable to coalesce into a single environment. Data Apart Together is therefore about how you enable different business units to derive insight across all the available information and not simply that which is directly available.

With potential Ford tie-up, Google looks to take back self-driving car lead from Tesla

For Google, the move would get their technology into more vehicles without them having to invest large amounts of capital into manufacturing. And, it's clear that Google wants to move the project forward since they'll be structuring their self-driving vehicle division as its own company under the new parent corporation, Alphabet next year—potentially including a carpooling competitor to Lyft or Uber. When asked what he thought of the potential partnership, Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney said that it makes "lots of sense." "Google needs the experience of production distribution and marketing, and Ford needs the breakthrough talents of Silicon Valley," Dulaney said.

Quote for the day:

"The result of long-term relationships is better and better quality, and lower and lower costs." -- W. Edwards Deming