Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Boot up: yes to 4K!, Mulally's red light, Watson's big question, and more

IBM supercomputer Watson The IBM supercomputer Watson was victorious on Jeopardy. But can it earn a living answering other questions? Photograph: AP

A burst of 8 links for you to chew over, as picked by the Technology team

Laurence Murphy:

HD needs to be viewed from an optimum distance for your eyes to adequately perceive the resolution. Three times the picture height is the ideal distance, which unfortunately that means if you have a TV of more than 40 inches you need to sit at the other end of the room to enjoy your programme. If you sit any closer, you can see the pixels that make up the picture and the effect is ruined.

But, if you increase the number of pixels, you can sit comfortably closer to the screen. That's the biggest benefit of 4K TV. You won't have to buy a bigger house to enjoy it.

Laurence Murphy is senior lecturer and researcher in Media Technology at the University of Salford. The Conversation is a fascinating new site which gets academics to comment on daily news events.

Mulally on Tuesday ended months of speculation by saying he won't leave Ford for Microsoft. But the Ford CEO had been telling people inside Ford for weeks that he wouldn't be the next Microsoft CEO, people familiar with those discussions said.

Other people familiar with Mulally's thinking said the Ford executive soured on the Microsoft job in part because of what he perceived to be leaks from Microsoft about the search process. Microsoft's board has been seeking a new leader since Steve Ballmer said in August  he planned to retire within a year…

…Mulally's waning recent interest in the CEO post coincided with concerns of critics who said the 68-year-old executive's age and lack of software experience made him a poor fit to lead the world's largest software company by revenue. Mulally is an aeronautical engineer, but has never worked in the computer or software industries.

At Microsoft's November shareholder meeting, [Bill] Gates said the next CEO needed to "have a lot of comfort in leading a highly technical organization." Some Microsoft watchers interpreted the comments as a sign the board preferred a CEO steeped in the tech industry, rather than a proven manager like Mulally.

Keith Weiss wrote in a note to investors that a recent Morgan Stanley survey of 3,000 consumers in the U.S., United Kingdom and Japan backs up his expectations that the decline in PC demand will slow markedly this year. It predicts a 2% decline in calendar year 2014, down from 16% decline the year before.

But he added that the survey shows that Mac computers will account for all of the improvement, posting a 75% year-over-year gain, while demand for Windows-based units will continue to fall, dropping another 15%.

"Although full realization of implied Mac growth is unlikely, Apple's growing installed base could drive better than expected Mac unit growth over the next several years," Weiss wrote in his note.

75%? That's hard to believe - even with any pent-up demand for the Mac Pro. Gartner meanwhile is forecasting a 7% fall for the whole PC market in 2014.

It won Jeopardy, but now what?

IBM is developing versions of Watson that can match cancer patients to clinical drug trials or recommend an investment strategy after reviewing a customer's portfolio.

Watson is having more trouble solving real-life problems than "Jeopardy" questions, according to a review of internal IBM documents and interviews with Watson's first customers.

For example, Watson's basic learning process requires IBM engineers to master the technicalities of a customer's business—and translate those requirements into usable software. The process has been arduous.

In addition, Watson doesn't work with the data-center technology offered by SoftLayer Technologies Inc., the cloud-computing provider IBM acquired for $2 billion. IBM also hasn't figured out how to generate a reliable revenue stream from Watson, according to the October conference call.

It sounds exactly like the expert systems of the 1980s/90s. Those too were going to replace experts with machine-honed analyses. But the problem of having to codify knowledge meant it mainly stayed inside peoples' heads.

Interesting side note in this analysis of who owns and uses what:

"Smartphone Reliants" represent 19% of Americans. Nearly all (93%) have a smartphone, 65% have a laptop, and most have wireless at home; but they are far less likely than their affluent counterparts to have electronic perks such as tablets, e-readers, and portable music devices, or to subscribe to Internet streaming services. Their relatively low ownership of iPods, tablets, and e-readers suggests they may have chosen to rely on their smartphones for these capabilities.

This group's average age (40) is similar to that of Super Tech Adopters, but Smartphone Reliants are less likely to be college educated, less likely to be employed, and less affluent. At 58% female, they also have a higher proportion of women than any of the other three groups.

More have smartphones than have laptops (though possibly they share with a partner?).

A spokesman said any affected customers should lodge a claim as a creditor, but the chances of getting the cash value promised was slim. It said it has so far been handed 750 old handsets.

Company director, Nearchos Chacholiades, filed for bankrupcy after setting up Yemonia Limited as the holding company for Cash4phones. The last known company address was a mail box at a newsagent's in Paddington, London.

"There is a meeting of creditors on 13 January where questions can be raised directly with the director, and they can also lodge their complaint so we will investigate the director's conduct more rigously," a spokesman for Capital Books said, who estimated that at least 1,000 consumers have been left owing cash. Trading Standards is also investigating the company.

Hard to figure out if it went under because it was a bad idea, or hit a cash flow problem.

Eleven people were injured, five of them seriously, in a fight Thursday between security guards and workers at the construction site a multi-billion dollar Samsung complex in the northern province of Thai Nguyen.

The incident occurred at around 7 a.m. at the Yen Binh Industrial Zone in Pho Yen District, where the South Korean electronics giant's US$3.2bn hi-tech complex is being built.

The fight broke out after the guards refused to allow some construction workers to bring meals to the site, witnesses said.

During the altercation, one of the guards reportedly hit a worker with a club, causing the latter to fall unconscious. This enraged other workers and hundreds of them attacked the guards, the Nguoi Lao Dong (Laborer) newspaper quoted some witnesses as saying.

For those trying to quit smoking (and quit starting smoking again) this year: a video game to make you think. Bookmark it in case you get a craving. (Via @SweMeatballs78 on Twitter.)

You can follow Guardian Technology's linkbucket on Pinboard

To suggest a link, either add it below or tag it with @gdntech on the free Delicious service.

View the original article here

No comments:

Post a Comment