May 31, 2015

IT party is over. Now's the time to reinvent or die
What's happening in the industry is `creative destruction'. New technologies are destroying old jobs but creating many new ones. There is an insatiable demand for developers of mobile and web applications. For data engineers and scientists. For cyber security expertise. So for anyone who is a quick learner, anyone with real expertise, there will be abundant opportunities. ... While India may have a big challenge overall in creating enough jobs for its youthful population, at the individual level there is no shortage of opportunities. The most important thing is a positive attitude. The IT boom was a tide that lifted all boats -even the most mediocre ones.However, this has bred an entitlement mentality and a lot of mediocrity . To prosper in the new world, two things will really matter.

Virtual Eyes Train Deep Learning Algorithm to Recognize Gaze Direction
The problem here is that large databases of this kind do not exist. And they are hard to create: imagine photographing a person looking in a wide range of directions, using all kinds of different camera angles under many different lighting conditions. And then doing it again for another person with a different eye shape and face and so on. Such a project would be vastly time-consuming and expensive. Today, Erroll Wood at the University of Cambridge in the U.K. and a few pals say they have solved this problem by creating a huge database of just the kind of images of eyes that a machine learning algorithm requires. That has allowed them to train a machine to recognize gaze direction more accurately than has ever been achieved before.

Best Kept Secrets for Successful Data Governance
Across industries, a growing number of organizations have put data governance programs in place so they can more effectively manage their data to drive the business value. But the reality is, data governance is a complex process, and most companies practicing data governance today are still at the early phase of this very long journey. In fact, according to the result from over 240 completed data governance assessments on, a community website dedicated to everything data governance, the average score for data governance maturity is only 1.6 out of 5. It’s no surprise that data governance was a hot topic at last week’s Informatica World 2015.

Where are the self-tuning systems?
In 2015, self-tuning systems mostly don’t exist. Every single piece of software still relies on magic numbers found empirically or pulled out of thin air, by developers or by users, possibly manually adjusted later in order to get closer to an acceptable security/reliability/performance balance. Collecting system, application and network metrics is a long-solved problem. Accessing all the knobs in a unified way remains an unsolved, but engineering-only problem (that systemd is bound to tackle at some point). Databases, network stacks, and virtual memory managers have been partly self-tuning for a long time, but only partly. Cluster resource managers/schedulers are pretty smart, but still rely too much on parameters whose value has to be chosen by humans.

The Persuasiveness of a Chart Depends on the Reader, Not Just the Chart
The user’s attitude matters. Research from Ansul Pandey and colleagues at New York University indicates that the persuasive power of dataviz may not be perfectly universal. The success of a visualization seems to be dependent on the initial attitude of the person assessing it. When participants in their study didn’t have strong opinions about the message being conveyed, visuals persuaded effectively. But they were less effective when participants held strong opinions in opposition to the message being conveyed. This makes sense. It takes more to convince someone who doesn’t believe you than someone who simply doesn’t know or doesn’t care. But there’s more. Those with stronger opposing views were more likely to be swayed when a disagreeable message was presented in the form of a table.

The real reason why micro SD card slots are disappearing from smartphones
The reason that smartphone manufacturers are ditching micro SD card slots in their devices, especially at the high end, is money. Manufacturers can't charge a premium for an SD card slot, but they can charge a $100 for a few extra gigabytes of flash storage. What Apple began with the iPhone, other manufacturers are now doing with their smartphones. And from a making money point of view, it makes good sense. A 128GB iPhone 6 costs the consumer $200 more than the 16GB version, but adding that extra storage costs Apple less than $50. For the consumer, this means having to decide up front how much storage they plan to need over the lifespan of the device, and a lot of hassle or even early obsolescence if space becomes an issue.

Google Wants You to Control Your Gadgets with Finger Gestures, Conductive Clothing
“You could use your virtual touchpad to control the map on the watch, or a virtual dial to control radio stations,” said Poupyrev. “Your hand can become a completely self-contained interface control, always with you, easy to use and very, very, ergonomic. It can be the only interface control that you would ever need for wearables.” Poupyrev also showed how he could perform the same motion in different places to control different things. He used the scrolling gesture to adjust the hour on a digital clock, then moved his hand about a foot higher and used the same motion to adjust the minutes. No details were given on what kind of devices the radar sensor might be built into.

How the cloud helped police warm up to body-worn cameras
While the cloud has paved the way for the data-intensive process of managing these cameras, the technology still has room for improvement. Automatic syncing of video footage from the camera to the cloud sounds ideal, but it's simply not practical yet. With Vievu, for example, officers need to bring their cameras back to their department headquarters, manually connect them to a PC, and load the footage to the cloud storage system on their own. Although the software is designed to prevent officers from tampering with the footage before storing it in the cloud, the process still leaves room for error. Policies may mandate that officers upload all of their footage, but that likely won't stop an officer with something to hide from destroying the device before immortalizing any incriminating footage.

CoderDojo’s vision to bring coding to every child in every school
The dream of bringing CoderDojo sessions like this to young people around the world may sound ambitious, but Mizzoni sees little difference between this and the establishment of sports clubs in school environments. “It’s important that every child is exposed to coding in some shape or form at school,” she said. “It’s like [the way] you might learn football in your PE class in school and, if you got a real interest for it, you’re going to go and join a football club, and that’s what CoderDojo is. It’s fun, it’s social, it’s informal learning. There’s no curriculum. It’s about kids learning what they want to learn and building what they want to build, so it’s entirely different to a school environment.”

7 Questions For The Guy Who Designed Minority Report's Futuristic UIs
Even if you don’t know the name "John Underkoffler," you surely know his work. His gesture-based interface for Minority Report influenced the 13 years of of user interface and hardware innnovation that have followed. But Minority Report's magical UI is only one of many products to come from both his his days at MIT and his LA studio Oblong. And his consistent quality is why he received a 2015 Cooper Hewitt National Design Award for interaction design. In recognition of the win, Underkoffler agreed to go through our seven-question wringer.

Quote for the day:

"I don't believe in taking foolish chances. But nothing can be accomplished without taking any chances at all." -- Charles Lindbergh

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