Saturday, December 31, 2011

The AI Revolution Is On - Wired

The AI Revolution Is On | Wired Magazine

Today’s A.I. bears little resemblance to its initial conception. The field’s trailblazers believed success lay in mimicking the logic-based reasoning that human brains were thought to use.
Today’s AI doesn’t try to re-create the brain. Instead, it uses machine learning, massive data sets, sophisticated sensors, and clever algorithms to master discrete tasks. Examples can be found everywhere: The Google global machine uses AI to interpret cryptic human queries. Credit card companies use it to track fraud. Netflix uses it to recommend movies to subscribers. And the financial system uses it to handle billions of trades (with only the occasional meltdown).

Friday, December 30, 2011


MIT launches online learning initiative

MIT announced the launch of an online learning initiative internally called “MITx.” MITx will offer a portfolio of MIT courses through an online interactive learning platform

M.I.T. Expands Its Free Online Courses @ NYTimes

Here is one interpretation, by Forbes

M.I.T. Simmons Hall learning initiative called M.I.T.x,which will offer the online teaching of M.I.T. courses free of charge to anyone in the world.

The program will not allow students to earn an M.I.T. degree. Instead, those who are able to exhibit a mastery of the subjects taught on the platform will receive an official certificate of completion. The certificate will obviously not carry the weight of a traditional M.I.T. diploma, but it will provide an incentive to finish the online material. According to the New York Times, in order to prevent confusion, the certificate will be a credential bearing the distinct name of a new not-for-profit body that will be created within M.I.T....

According to the New York Times, access to the software will be free. However, there will
most likely be an “affordable” charge, not yet determined, for a credential...
university doesn’t plan to launch a prototype of the platform until the spring of 2012

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Permanent Calendar

A fixed-date calendar and no time zones, researchers say | Human World | EarthSky

  • The same day always falls on the same date, year after year.
    It maintains a 7-day week to preserve a day of religious observance (a Sabbath).
  • All months would have 30 days, except March, June, September, and December that are 31 days in duration.
  • Every 5 to 6 years, an extra week is added to the end of December to bring the calendar in sync with seasonal changes on Earth.

    They also advocate abolishment of time zones in favor of Universal Time (UT), so that everyone across the world is on the same clock.
  • Tuesday, December 27, 2011

    Lines Of Code

    Wiki: Lines Of Code

    "Measuring software productivity by lines of code
    is like measuring progress on an airplane by how much it weighs."
    - Bill Gates

    Why Bill Gates is Richer than You
    by Philip Greenspun, a professor at MIT

    Better-ness vs. Busy-ness

    Economics for Humans - HBR IdeaCast - Harvard Business Review

    An interesting book and podcast interview
    about motivations and business results.
    The observation is that current business processes are optimized
    for producing more stuff, not more of relevant values for people.

    "Economics, and indeed human civilization,
    can only be measured and calibrated in terms of human beings.
    Everything in economics has to be adjusted for people, first,
    and abandoning the illusory numerical analyses that inevitably put
    numbers ahead of people, capitalism ahead of democracy,
    and degradation ahead of compassion. "

    Monday, December 26, 2011

    Kendo UI: "native looking" HTML5

    Kendo UI - The Art of Web Development

    Telerik, the maker of popular web development tools and libraries
    have a new JavaScript framework that helps make "native looking" mobile HTML5 apps. This is a result of 10 years of development of web tools...

    Kendo UI is similar to jQuery Mobile UI, but with important difference:
    while jQuery Mobile UI provides universal look and feel for all platforms,
    Kendo UI auto-adjust to platform, such as iOS, Android, etc.
    This helps make web apps that look more like "native",
    to help acceptance of apps in app store.

    This approach is similar to Mono tools for iOS and Android,
    where "native" apps are built in C#, but GUI is based on controls from actual platform.
    Apparently users like "native looking" and now is the race how to make them most effectively.

    Kendo UI library has a dual license: commercial ($399/dev), and GPLv3 open source.

    Here is an excellent related podcast interview @ Hanselminutes.

    Extending Batteries Life

    Battery Univeristy: How to Prolong Lithium-based Batteries

    If at all possible, avoid frequent full discharges and charge more often between uses. If full discharges cannot be avoided, try utilizing a larger battery. Partial discharge on Li-ion is fine; there is no memory and the battery does not need periodic full discharge cycles other than to calibrate the fuel gauge on a smart battery.

    Elevated temperature is anything that dwells above 30°C (86°F), and a high voltage is higher than 4.10V/cell... Exposing the battery to high temperature and being at full state-of-charge for an extended time can be more damaging than cycling...

    Users should not worry too much about the state-of-charge; a cool and dry place is more important...

    Giz Explains: Why Batteries Die

    Sunday, December 25, 2011

    HP MFP Scans 3D Objects

    HP TopShot LaserJet Pro M275 Printer Review | PCWorld

    The new HP TopShot Laserjet Pro M275 is a color laser multifunction printer (MFP) that prints, copies, and scans, and it also comes with something extra: an elevated, 8-megapixel camera that makes taking images of small three-dimensional (3D) objects almost as easy as making a photocopy.

    Note: the device, as well as the toner, are relatively expensive.
    But the design is interesting and relatively new.

    The concept of using camera instead of scanner
    is used on large scale for "Google Books" project,
    where a custom "scanning" device is created to quick and "gentle"
    scanning of millions of books, where two high-res cameras
    are taking photos of both pages of open book at once...
    Obviously, the solution is patented...

    Like everything in the technology world, there is a competition,
    and there is an independent solution that does the same jobs as Google's

    And even among "classic" inkjet MFP devices, there is also competition,
    from Lexmark Genesis

    Soon enough many smart-phones will be able to do similar job...

    Saturday, December 24, 2011

    Education For All

    Education For All
    a website developed to facilitate informal tertiary education. Educational resources especially open courseware available on the web are selected, organized and integrated into a meaningful and coherent context - somewhat akin to a virtual university. This platform will make it easier for learners to engage with the vast and overwhelming information and knowledge resources available online.

    The educational resources are aggregated from top universities such as MIT, Stanford, Yale and Berkeley and many other sources and consist of video recordings of lectures, lecture notes, slideshows, reading lists, and online books"

    OSCON 2011 - Slides & Videos

    Speaker Slides & Video: OSCON 2011 - O'Reilly Conferences, July 25 - 29, 2011, Portland, OR

    Interesting presentations, including some slides & videos

    Here is one of presentations (a keynote: Adrian Cockcroft, "Data Flow at Netflix"

    Netflix’s built a tool called “Chaos Monkey” to ensure that individual components work independently. Chaos Monkey randomly kills instances and services within Netflix’s AWS infrastructure to help developers to make sure each individual component returns something even when system dependencies aren’t responding.

    Friday, December 23, 2011

    AI Class - Statement of Accomplishment

    I have just received Statement of Accomplishment for successfully completed
    Advanced Track of Introduction to Artificial Intelligence
    online class with a score of 97.1%.

    The class was held by Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig,
    Stanford professors and also working for Google.
    The program of the class is same as regular Stanford class by same professors,
    except for programming assignments that are not graded for online class.
    The online class and results are not associated with Stanford University.
    Here is an article about AI-class and teachers.

    This was a great (mostly nightly) learning and 10-week experience!
    More than 160 000 people world-wide have signed up for this class!
    There was a lot of discussion on online forums and

    To help myself review materials (an reduce making notes) I have also developed
    a simple web site to extract "close captioning" text from YouTube API

    The future of education includes interactive videos for sure!
    They are much better, at least for me, than "classic" lectures.
    Not to mention opportunity to learn from some of the best, at your own pace.

    Here are some early Statistics. There were about 20,000 who finished the advanced track:
    low - high | number | percentile
    0.0 - 86.9 | 10,000 | bottom 50%
    87.0 - 93.5 | 5,000 | top 50%
    93.6 - 97.6 | 3,000 | top 25%
    97.7 - 98.8 | 1,000 | top 10%
    98.9 - 99.9 | 800 | top 5%
    100.0 | 200 | top 1%

    above 87%, the data is very linear, approximated by this equation: percentile = score * 3.773 - 278.649

    With my 97.1% that is apparently in "top 12.3%"...

    Machine Learning - Stanford free classes

    Machine Learning Class

    Preview videos
    There is an option to speed-up videos 1.2 and 1.5 times :)

    Professor Andrew Ng is Director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab, the main AI research organization at Stanford, with 20 professors and about 150 students/post docs. At Stanford, he teaches Machine Learning, which with a typical enrollment of 350 Stanford students, is among the most popular classes on campus.

    Stanford's free online courses

    Class Central - Summary of Stanford's free online courses

    All based on videos hosted on YouTube, with custom web front apps.

    Ongoing, completed, courses (3)
  • Introduction to Artificial Intelligence
  • Introduction to Machine Learning
  • Introduction to Databases

    Upcoming courses (16)
  • CS 101
  • Introduction to Machine Learning
  • Software as a Service
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Natural Language Processing
  • Game Theory
  • Probabilistic Graphical Models
  • Cryptography
  • Design and Analysis of Algorithms I
  • Lean Launchpad
  • Technology Entrepreneurship
  • Anatomy Sakti Srivastava
  • Making Green Buildings
  • Information Theory
  • Model Thinking
  • Computer Security

    News! MIT launches online learning initiative MITx
  • Wednesday, December 21, 2011

    Python Tools for Visual Studio

    Python Tools for Visual Studio
    "PTVS 1.1"
    An integrated environment for developing Python in VS2010

  • Supports CPython and IronPython
  • Python editor with advanced member and signature intellisense
  • Code navigation “Find all refs”, goto definition, and object browser
  • Local and remote debugging
  • Profiling with multiple views
  • Integrated REPL window with inline matplotlib graphics
  • Support for HPC clusters and MPI, including debugging & Profiling
  • Interactive parallel computing via integrated IPython REPL


    Google Python (2 day video) Class
  • Google Sites - free

    Learn more about Google Sites
    Google Sites makes creating and sharing a group website easy
    Single-click page creation
    Customizable look and feel
    Dozens of pre-built templates
    Settings for accessing and sharing information
    And it's free!

    Beyond "free" there is "Google Sites with Google Apps Premier Edition",
    (a long name similar to Microsoft product naming :)

    The "sites" appears to be integrated with Gmail, Google Calendar, Docs, Talk
    so this could be in a way similar to Microsoft Office 365 / Live,
    where SharePoint services are used for group collaboration.

    It is really nice that both Google and Microsoft offer integrated web solutions,
    and that they start with "free"...

    Probabilistic Robotics book

    book: Probabilistic Robotics

    Probabilistic robotics is a new and growing area in robotics, concerned with perception and control in the face of uncertainty. Building on the field of mathematical statistics, probabilistic robotics endows robots with a new level of robustness in real-world situations...

    Sebastian Thrun, Associate Professor in the Computer Science Department at Stanford University

    Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach

    Book: Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach
    (Third edition) by Stuart Russell and Peter Norvig

    The leading textbook in Artificial Intelligence.
    Used in over 1200 universities in over 100 countries.
    The 25th most cited publication on Citeseer (and 2nd most cited publication of this century).

    Peter Norvig
    Director of Research @ Google

    Monday, December 19, 2011

    IBM Next 5 in 5: 2011 - YouTube

    IBM Next 5 in 5: 2011 - YouTube

    An interesting video with technology predictions for next 5 years by IBM...
    Free Energy, No Passwords, Mind Reading, No Spam, All Mobile :)

    I guess we should just accelerate that future!

    This is not the first time IBM made such prediction.
    Here is set of 5 from 2010.

    One of predictions is repeated: powering mobile devices based on movement,
    essentially no explicit re-charging. I guess that one may come first,
    and IBM may already have all essential patents on the technology :)
    The world just needs more IBMs...

    Sunday, December 18, 2011

    The Cat in the Hat @ PBS Kids

    The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That . Video | PBS KIDS

    Internet videos are better than Cable TV...
    Already, even before Apple release of "ultimate TV"...

    Thursday, December 15, 2011

    Google's Majel vs.Siri

    Google's project Majel gets more interesting by the day | Android Atlas - CNET Reviews

    ...rumors of a "Majel" project
    ...over the last few years Google X's focus has been based around a super smart AI robot that leverages the tech behind a number of popular Google programs. Described as being 'the most amazing thing" he'd ever seen, the AI had passed the Turing Test 93 percent of the time over the course of an hour long IM-like conversation...

    Tuesday, December 13, 2011

    Learn Windows Azure

    Learn Windows Azure

    Windows Azure

    Microsoft is getting serious about making Azure easy to use...
    They also claim some price advantage compered to competition...

    There is total of 6 large data centers, 2 in USA, 2 in Europe, 2 in Asia.
    In addition, there is 24 CDN (content distribution network) data centers.

    @ Wikipedia

    Monday, December 12, 2011

    $1 billion in 16 days (a game or a movie?)

    Game Modern Warfare 3 Makes a Billion Dollars Faster than Avatar

    Sixteen days. That’s how long it took Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 to rack up sales of a billion dollars for Activision. For comparison’s sake, the highest grossing movie ever made, Avatar, took 17 days to reach that mark.

    Sunday, December 11, 2011

    jsFiddle Web Editor

    Edit this Fiddle - jsFiddle - Online Editor for the Web
    (JavaScript, MooTools, jQuery, Prototype, YUI, Glow and Dojo, HTML, CSS)

    A great tool for testing web:
    CSS, JavaScript, HTML...
    The logo is another proof that there is only one icon used for "cloud" :)

    The site even has "re-size-able iframe"...
    One of rare things that HTML5 has discontinued are HTML Frames.
    Instead, CSS, DIVs and iFrame is to be used.
    But, while old HTML Frames are super-simple
    to make re-size-able sections of the screen,
    the same thing with iFrames and DIVs requires
    custom JavaScript programming... not much fun...
    Price of progress...

    Saturday, December 10, 2011

    Responsive Web Design

    A "modern" web site design needs to auto-adjust
    to the size of web browser screen.

    This can be done by a few "HTML5/CSS3 tricks"
    described in this original article...

    A List Apart: Articles: Responsive Web Design
    by Ethan Marcotte

    Responsive Web Design @ MSDN

    Google Chrome Frame

    Google Chrome Frame - Google Code

    While Microsoft has given up on updating IE web browser on Windows XP,
    and there is still too many IE6 browsers on "enterprise" computers,
    Google Chrome now has a solution that does not require admin rights.

    Chrome web browser now can be installed by any user,
    and it can even appear as "plug-in" to IE6,
    providing latest HTML5 features inside of IE...

    Similar "trick" was possible for a while with Flash,
    because recent versions of Flash include WebKit web browser embedded,
    and if Flash app is a full-screen web browser,
    it may appear that IE6 has latest features,
    when in fact it is just running a plugin...

    HTML5 "Boilerplate"

    HTML5 Boilerplate - A rock-solid default template for HTML5 awesome.
    "A rock-solid default for HTML5 awesome."

    A popular set of templates for HTML5 apps...

    is a small collection of CSS & JS files
    that can help you rapidly develop sites that look beautiful at any size,
    be it a 17" laptop screen or an iPhone...

    Microsoft iPod - YouTube

    "Microsoft Re-Designs the Ipod Packaging" - YouTube

    Fun video... apparently produced by Microsoft itself
    to show how NOT do design typical packaging...

    Friday, December 09, 2011

    Reinventing Education with Khan Academy and AI Class - YouTube

    Reinventing Education with Khan Academy and AI Class - YouTube

    "The Problem Solvers"
    ...Khan and his 20-person team -- refugees from hedge funds, consulting firms, software companies, and tech start-ups -- say the videos are hardly the most innovative work they are doing. The real revolution at Khan Academy, they contend, is not being streamed on its vaunted website; it is happening in the back end of the platform, where Khan’s engineers are learning as much about the site’s 1.4 million registered users as those users are learning about math and science...

    Winning The DARPA Grand Challenge

    How to build a self-driving car...

    Google TechTalks August 2, 2006; Prof. Sebastian Thrun from Stanford:
    The DARPA grand challenge, technical details enabling Sebastian Thrun's win,
    and an introduction to the next phase called "The Urban Grand Challenge".

    Winning The DARPA Grand Challenge 2005

    Thursday, December 08, 2011

    Windows Phone on iPhone, Android

    Microsoft has prepared HTML5 demo pages
    that look like Windows Phone / 8 "Metro Style",
    and can be viewed from iPhone, Android, iPod Touch...

    Is "Metro" really so good? It depends...
    In some cases it could reduce number of "clicks/taps" to get the info.
    Since Apple is already moving from GUI to Voice, the game is changing again...

    XBOX is also getting Metro-Style Interface...
    Xbox Update Adds Metro Interface, Cloud and Windows Phone App

    Metro (design language) @ Wikipedia

    Microsoft's design team says that the Metro UI is partly inspired by signs commonly found at public transport systems, for instance on the King County Metro Transit[5], a public transit system that serves the Seattle metropolitan area where Microsoft is headquartered. Metro places a large focus on typography and has large text that catches the eye. Microsoft says that Metro is designed to be "sleek, quick, modern" and a "refresh" from the icon-based interfaces of Android and iOS

    The Metro design language was designed specifically to consolidate groups of common tasks to speed up usage. This is accomplished by excluding superfluous graphics and instead relying on the actual content to also function as the main UI. The resulting interfaces favour larger hubs over smaller buttons and often feature laterally scrolling full bleed canvases. Page titles are usually large and consequently also take advantage of lateral scrolling

    Learn Windows Azure | Channel 9

    Learn Windows Azure | Channel 9

    On Tuesday December 13th Microsoft will be holding a special Windows Azure event for developers. Join us LIVE from the Microsoft Redmond Campus to learn how to get started building applications for the cloud from Microsoft technical leaders Scott Guthrie, Dave Campbell, and Mark Russinovich. All of the sessions will be broadcast live thanks to your friends from Channel9.

    Microsoft is getting serious about Cloud/Azure...
    Notice that focus it is not only .NET... there is also Java, PHP, even node.js...

    Azure SDK downloads

    Azure Challenge

    Tuesday, December 06, 2011

    Apple Futureshock Video 1987

    Concept video showing off the applications behind Apple's "Futureshock" Knowledge Navigator concept device from 1987! Great!

    Apple Futureshock - YouTube

    Why iPad 3 Will Have Siri

    and everybody will want to have a iPad3 :)

    Sunday, December 04, 2011

    Microsoft Translator | Windows Azure Marketplace

    Microsoft Translator | Windows Azure Marketplace

    "Marketplace for data/services",
    powered by Microsoft Azure,
    a useful tool: Translate

    1tx = 1000 characters
    Free: 2000 tx/month, .
    $40/month: 4000 tx/month
    $60/month: 6000 tx/month
    There is also: 2 months free trial

    currently supported languages

    By the way,
    Google Translate service
    is also not free anymore, and the price is the same: 1 M characters of text: $20.00
    Google just does not appear to offer any free options or promotions...
    Also, Google's service is still in "labs", that is could change at any time...
    It is quite usable, but result translation does require human editing.

    There could be some "moral dilemma" here, since machine translation services
    are trained on already translated web sites,
    that was in many cases very hard and expensive to make.
    Also, in many cases Google provides an option to "suggest better translation".

    Clearly there is a significant value-add
    by machine learning algorithms implemented by Google, Microsoft,
    as well as in the real-time service provided,
    but there is some value in original "data".
    It could be mutually beneficial to have
    original data available in a "free form".
    Like Wikipedia.

    Mentioned services likely have learned
    from existing Wikipedia translations.
    Services could be made available for further translation of Wikipedia,
    and then translation programs can learn more from human editing feedback...

    JSON-C YouTube API

    Developer's Guide: JSON-C / JavaScript - YouTube APIs and Tools - Google Code

    YouTube site has not only a very rich content,
    but also a very powerful set of APIs!

    Besides very popular and standardized "ATOM" (XML) REST API,
    there are also JSON and JSON-C ("C" stands for "Compact", most likely).
    While there is no much "talk" about "JSON-C" to be found by googling,
    the format does appear to be much more efficient for storage: good engineering, YouTube!

    In addition to much smaller size (= less time to process), it makes programming simpler!

    Comparing JSON and JSON-C

  • JSON-C feeds can exclude duplicate, irrelevant or easily calculated values.
  • do not preserve XML namespaces or schema information
  • minimize the number of JSON objects that are created in favor of simple properties

    Atom (XML):
    <category scheme=''
      term='Sports' label='Sports'/>
    <category scheme='' term='dog'/>
    <category scheme='' term='catch'/>
    <category scheme='' term='frisbee'/>
      <media:category label='Sports'
      <media:keywords>dog, catch, frisbee</media:keywords>
    JSON: "category":[ {"scheme":"", "term":"Sports", "label":"Sports"}, {"scheme":"", "term":"dog"}, {"scheme":"", "term":"catch"}, {"scheme":"", "term":"frisbee"} ], "media$group": { "media$category":[{"$t":"Sports", "label":"Sports", "scheme":""], "media$keywords":{"$t":"dog, catch, frisbee"} }
    JSON-C: "category":"Sports", "tags":["dog", "catch", "frisbee"]

  • Saturday, December 03, 2011

    Extra Virginity: Olive Oil

    Podcast: The World Of Olive Oil @ OnPoint radio
    ...olive oil is the paragon of health foods.
    The golden foundation of the Mediterranean diet.
    But do you know what you’re buying when you buy olive oil?
    ... the market is swimming in scandal.
    Musty, grubby, rancid olive oil “deodorized” and passed off as extra virgin.
    Italian flags slapped on oil from all over.
    Health benefits promised and lost in fraud...

    Book: Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil (9780393070217): Tom Mueller: Books

    Thursday, December 01, 2011

    Happy 40th, Unix

    The Strange Birth and Long Life of Unix - IEEE Spectrum

    ... and the reason to create was cheap gaming :)

    Thompson had passed some of his time after the demise of Multics writing a computer game called Space Travel, which simulated all the major bodies in the solar system along with a spaceship that could fly around them. Written for the GE-645, Space Travel was clunky to play—and expensive: roughly US $75 a game for the CPU time. Hunting around, Thompson came across a dusty PDP-7, a minicomputer built by Digital Equipment Corp. that some of his Bell Labs colleagues had purchased earlier for a circuit-analysis project. Thompson rewrote Space Travel to run on it.
    The name Unix stems from a joke one of Thompson's colleagues made: Because the new operating system supported only one user (Thompson), he saw it as an emasculated version of Multics and dubbed it "Un-multiplexed Information and Computing Service," or Unics. The name later morphed into Unix.