Thursday, April 17, 2014

drag2share: Hadoop analytics startup Karmasphere sells itself to FICO

Source: http://gigaom.com/2014/04/17/hadoop-analytics-startup-karmasphere-sells-itself-to-fico/

The Fair Isaac Corporation, better known as FICO, has acquired the intellectual property of Hadoop startup Karmasphere. Karmasphere launched in 2010, and was one of the first companies to push the idea of an easy, visual interface for analyzing Hadoop data, and even analyzing it using traditional SQL queries.

According to a press release announcing the acquisition, Karmasphere’s technology will be folded into FICO Analytic Cloud service, which lets users analyze consumer credit data. Martin Hall, Karmasphere’s founder, will join FICO. I have reached out to Karmasphere for further details about the acquisition.

A screenshot of the Karmasphere product.

A screenshot of the Karmasphere product.

From the outside, though, the deal looks like a fire sale. I began hearing questions about the company’s future in early 2013 after some key executive departures, although the company did still release a new version of its analytics software in June. Karmasphere had raised $14.5 million in venture capital from Hummer Winblad, US Venture Partners and Presidio Ventures, but the last round was only a partial close ($3.5 million out of the $5 million it was looking for) in December 2012.

When I asked Hummer Winblad Managing Director Mitchell Kertzman (whose firm was one of Karmasphere’s main investors) about the fate of Karmasphere on the Structure Show podcast in November, he had this to say:

“To some extent, I think what happened in that space was real Hadoop adoption happened slowly … In other words, if Hadoop had really taken off … then the bet [on Karmapshere] would have gotten to market faster. Since Hadoop wasn’t being adopted as fast, then tools for Hadoop weren’t being required as fast.”

That’s a fair point. By the time the idea of real interactive analytics on Hadoop data really took off, there were newer, shinier options such as Datameer and Platfora available. Popular tools such as Tableau began connecting nicely with Hadoop, too, and the Hadoop community helped improve that story with SQL query engines that sped up backend processing.

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drag2share: Twitter√Ęs data grants will be used to research food poisoning, cancer, happiness

Source: http://gigaom.com/2014/04/17/twitters-data-grants-will-be-used-to-research-food-poisoning-cancer-happiness/

Twitter announced on Thursday the six winners of the data grants program that the social networking platform announced in February. The winning researchers will get access to the entire history of tweets to search for posts relevant to their studies.

Here is the list of winners and winning projects, as described by Twitter:

However, as interesting as these projects might be, they represent just a small fraction of the types of questions that could be researched using data from Twitter and other social networking sites. As I wrote when Twitter announced its grant program, there’s a bit of tension between researchers who want access to data and companies that want — often for good reason — to keep it largely under wraps. For this program alone, Twitter says it received more than 1,300 submissions.

Gnip, which Twitter bought this week and which runs a service around letting users access social data, is supplying the data for the grant recipients. One can only imagine the volumes of data they’ll be receiving: Gnip recently supplied me with one month worth of bitcoin-related tweets, which numbered more than 1.3 million and spanned dozens of metadata categories. Measuring tweets about sports for any prolonged period? Ouch.

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drag2share: This Simple Siri Hack Lets You Control Anything With Your iPhone

Source: http://gizmodo.com/this-simple-siri-hack-lets-you-control-anything-with-yo-1564200457

This Simple Siri Hack Lets You Control Anything With Your iPhone

Voice control is a super convenient way to control stuff with your phone, at least when your AI isn't just shouting error messages at other computers . Googolplex makes it even better by unlocking Siri to let her control your stereo, your thermostat; honestly, just about anything.

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drag2share: Google's latest Street View algorithm beats its bot-sniffing security system

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2014/04/17/google-street-view-recaptcha/

You know how Google's been doing such a great job associating addresses with their locations on a map? Apparently, it's all thanks to the company's new magical algorithm that can parse (with 90 percent accuracy) even fuzzy numbers in pictures taken by Street View vehicles. In fact, the technology's so good that it managed to read even those headache-inducing swirly reCAPTCHA images 99 percent of the time during the company's tests. While that proves that the system works really well, it also implies that the distorted Rorschach-like puzzles are not a fool-proof indicator of whether a user is human.

Yes, robots can beat reCAPTCHA after all, but Google swears that it doesn't matter. The company says these findings have nudged it to build additional safeguards, so that it now looks at a number of clues (and not just the text you type in) to determine if you're human or not. Google didn't expound on what those clues are, but next time you get another set of reCAPTCHA puzzles despite doing it right the first time around, you know what's up.

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Source: Google (1), (2)

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drag2share: College kids gave Siri new powers and now you can too

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2014/04/16/googolplex-siri/

We already know Apple is working on improving Siri, but gosh dangit, the folks in Cupertino just aren't moving as fast as some would like. That's why a quartet of freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania decided to try making Siri do more on their own... at a hackathon, no less. They wound up taking third prize for the hack -- called GoogolPlex -- and after some fine-tuning, Alex Sands, Ajay Patel, Ben Hsu and Gagan Gupta are ready to help you make your virtual assistant do more. The setup process is trivial: you just have to change your Wi-Fi connection's proxy settings (seriously, it'll take five seconds). Once that's done though, you can invoke Siri and ask GoogolPlex to play tunes in Spotify, crank up the heat on your Nest thermostat or even start your Tesla.

Fiddling with proxy settings may not be your cup of tea, but it's actually crucial to how GoogolPlex works. You see, Siri parses these voice commands and sends them along to Google as search terms, but Googolplex intercepts that text and chews on it so it knows what service's API to interact with (don't worry, Gupta says none of your commands are ever stored). Hell, if you happen to be conversant in code, you can cobble together your own GoogolPlex commands for other apps too. Case in point: the team was originally going to reveal GoogolPlex with a Venmo command to initiate payments by voice. The full, more technical explanation can be found here.

Is it neat? You bet, especially since older projects that tried to do the same were a hassle to set up. Is it a totally polished way to expand Siri's mind? Erm, not quite. You can bark commands at Googolplex all you like, but actually getting a response takes a little time since you're always routed to Safari. Still, not a huge deal considering you can coax Googolplex into doing things Siri just can't. It's only a matter of time before Apple pushes out a shiny new build of iOS that makes some (or most) of what this hack does redundant, but for now, it's time to get a-tinkerin'.

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Source: GoogolPlex

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drag2share: Imogen Heap's high-tech gloves could make the rest of your band obsolete

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2014/04/16/mi-mu-gloves/

If you thought Michael Jackson was the only musician to believe in the magical power of a glove, think again. Imogen Heap has "joined forces with the nerd underworld" to create a new high-tech glove called Mi.Mu that allows you to control sound with your hands. Using lights and motion sensors, the gloves can map a variety of hand gestures to different instruments and sounds, with each pair able to store literally thousands of combinations. It's a concept she first talked about at TED in 2011.

Right now the gestural music system is being built specifically for Heap, who has already come up with some crazy combinations. One of them, for example, is as follows: "If I am making a fist with my right hand, and pointing downwards with my left hand, map the 'roll' of my right wrist to MIDI control change message 60 on channel 2." Say what? The goal is to make the project open-source so anyone can get in on the action. Pricing on the Mi.Mu's Kickstarter page, however, represents a product that's more for pop stars than your average garage band. To get a glove and the necessary electronics you'll need to shell out 750 pounds ($1260!). If you do decide to invest, the system could certainly add a little flair to your stage presence -- as long as you don't have to sneeze.

Image source: Imogen Heap

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Source: Kickstarter, Imogen Heap

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drag2share: MIT designs a floating, tsunami-proof nuclear plant

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2014/04/16/mit-s-concept-for-a-floating-nuclear-plant-claims-to-be-tsunami/

What's the safest place to put a nuclear reactor? Offshore, apparently. A new power plant design concept from MIT envisions a facility built on floating platforms, moored in deep water several miles off the coast. This, the concept's creators explain, lends it several crucial advantages -- making it virtually immune to earthquakes, tsunamis and meltdowns. Big promises, to be sure, but the professors' reasoning actually makes sense: in deep water, tsunami waves aren't large enough to cause significant damage, and earthquakes are usually only felt if you're standing on the earth. Floating the reactor on the ocean also gives the plant access to easy, passive cooling, what MIT's Jacopo Buongiorno calls an "infinite heat sink."

The concept may be designed to prevent natural disasters, but some of its ideas sound a little dangerous on their own. Buongiorno describes an emergency situation that sees the plant venting radioactive gasses into the ocean, rather than into the air. This protects nearby populations from airborne radiation, but seems like a questionable move in terms of protecting the local environment. For now, it's just an idea -- but if the idea can be developed further, it could provide us with safer, more manageable nuclear power in the future.

[Image credit: MIT-NSE, Jake Jurewicz]

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Source: MIT News

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drag2share: Eyefi's new service sends your camera's photos to the cloud as soon as you shoot

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2014/04/17/eyefi-cloud/

Eyefi Mobi SD card

There are plenty of cameras that send their photos to your phone, but you frequently have to transfer those pictures yourself -- and it's another hassle to get the pics to other devices. Eyefi thinks it can solve these headaches by launching its own online service, Eyefi Cloud. If you're using one of the company's WiFi-equipped Mobi cards in your camera alongside new Android and iOS apps, any photos go both to your mobile device and Cloud right after you've hit the shutter button. You only need a browser to manage your shots, so you're not stuck if you want to see your photos on a new PC.

Cloud costs $49 per year for an unlimited number of uploads, so it's potentially superior to auto-syncing storage services like Dropbox or Google+ if you take a lot of snapshots. Don't worry if you're hesitant to pay up front, though. You'll get three months of free service just by grabbing the app and signing in. The necessary Mobi cards start at a relatively high $49 for an 8GB model, but you may not have to worry about capacity now that there's an easy way to back up images before you get home.

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Source: Eyefi

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

drag2share: HTC allows devs to tap into the power of the One's Duo Camera

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2014/04/16/htc-duo-camera-sdk-preview/

The HTC One (M8) brought with it a load of new camera features, including its unique Duo Camera setup on its back side. Now, the handset maker is opening up the code that powers the pair in a SDK preview for third-party devs. This means that apps can be designed specifically for the M8's cameras with DualLens and DimensionPlus APIs baked right in. In other words, developers will get their hands on that bokeh-style refocusing and multi-angled shot selection in addition to depth maps from the pair of cameras. Of course, only time will tell how eager app makers are to latch on to HTC's smartphone snapshooting tricks, but at least now they'll have the necessary tools to do so.

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Source: HTC

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drag2share: Google's new camera app brings Photo Sphere and Lens Blur to Android devices

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2014/04/16/google-stock-camera-app-photo-sphere-lens-blur/

While Google has continued to toss new features into the camera app shipped on its Nexus devices, many Android phones replace it something else. But just as we revealed a few weeks ago, now it's available in the Play Store, ready to run on any phone or tablet using Android 4.4 KitKat. Beyond bits like Photo Sphere that we've seen before, Google is filling in the blanks on its new "Lens Blur" option. Meant to emphasize the subject while blurring the background for an impressive depth of field effect, it uses algorithms to simulate the large camera lens and aperture your phone or tablet doesn't actually have. Taking the photo requires an upward sweep to capture multiple images, used to estimate the depth of objects for a 3D map that lets the software re-render the photo later and blur specific items based on where it thinks they are. Google's Research Blog has more details on how it's all done, including the Lytro-like ability to change which object is in focus after you take the shot.

Tired of tilt-shift effects after years of Instagramming, no matter how much math is at work? There's more to the new camera app than that; it has all the other features we'd heard about, like a "100% viewfinder" that makes sure you can see everything that will be in the picture on your screen before the shot is taken with no "dropped pixels" and a larger capture button. Panorama shots are better now too, with higher resolution, and Google's 360-degree Photo Spheres can be captured at up to 50 megapixels.

Of course, the other element is that Google can extend its camera setup onto Android phones and tablets by other manufactures like LG, HTC and Samsung. So far their skinned retail devices have often skipped Google's enhancements for custom camera apps of their own, but like many other Android features over the years (Gmail, Calendar, Keyboard) making it an app in the marketplace should bring its features to more devices, and allow for frequent updates. If you don't yet have Android 4.4 KitKat, there's still hope, as the team says this app will come to more devices over the coming months.

We gave it a quick try, and while not all of the features are available on every device (no Photo Sphere option on our Moto G, for example) it worked pretty well. Taking a Lens Blur photo is similar to a panorama -- except for swiping the camera vertically, and we were able to go back and edit the resulting image quickly. One cool, but unmentioned addition to the app is a reminder for video recording that tells you to put the phone in landscape instead of holding it in portrait. Surely, you already knew to do that, but hopefully it makes the next WorldStarHipHop brawl easier to watch in widescreen.

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Source: Android (G+), Google Research Blog, Google Play

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drag2share: Chrome Remote Desktop for Android browses a PC or Mac from your phone

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2014/04/16/google-chrome-remote-desktop-android/

While we'd seen rumblings that it was in beta testing, Google's Chrome Remote Desktop app for Android made its official debut today. This means that those who fancy Mountain View's mobile OS can take a gander at files that reside on a Windows or Mac machine that's safely docked in the office. The Remote Desktop app has been available on the desktop for quite some time, and now the same access is available through Chrome on Android smartphones and tablets. For those who prefer Apple's devices, an iOS version of the software should be on the way soon.

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Source: Google Chrome Blog, Google Play

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drag2share: Toshiba's vision for Project Ara extends to wearables and beyond

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2014/04/16/toshiba-project-ara-wearables/

Project Ara is primarily focused on building a modular smartphone in the hopes of changing the industry, but is that the only type of mobile device on the drawing board? Absolutely not. An executive at Toshiba, one of Google's partners on the project, just revealed that his company's vision of the concept goes beyond smartphones. Shardul Kazi, Senior VP and Technology Executive at Toshiba, posited that devices like smartwatches (and beyond, he says) could also take advantage of Ara's blocky component modules, which allow you to mix and match whatever features and components you want to have.

During his presentation at the Ara Developer Conference, Kazi showed the above slide depicting a module being removed from the Ara phone and placed into a wearable device. Indeed, just as the handset has an endoskeleton that makes it possible for blocks to attach to the phone in the first place, a future wearable could certainly be constructed the same way. Kazi's example here relates to activity trackers with nine-axis sensors and Bluetooth LE, but it's not limited to just that particular use case; such a thing would be wide open to the imagination of module makers and developers.

Kazi's quick to point out that this is purely an idea at this point and isn't actually in development. Still, it goes to show how easily adaptable this kind of platform could be to other form factors -- if consumers love using modular smartphones, might they feel the same way about modular tablets, smartwatches and other wearables? Naturally, the folks behind Ara don't want to bite off more than they can chew -- just putting together a phone in less than two years is a job and a half for the team, after all -- but it makes sense to see how many other ways the same tech can benefit our lives.

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drag2share: How to Turn Off Facebook's Auto-Playing Video Ads

Source: http://lifehacker.com/how-to-turn-off-facebooks-auto-playing-video-ads-1563822464/+ericlimer

How to Turn Off Facebook's Auto-Playing Video Ads

Facebook recently introduced auto-playing video ads on desktop and mobile, but thankfully there's now a switch to opt out. Here's what you have to do.

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drag2share: Google Street View Accidentally Made an Algorithm That Cracks CAPTCHAs

Source: http://gizmodo.com/google-street-view-accidentally-made-an-algorithm-that-1564000842

Google Street View Accidentally Made an Algorithm That Cracks CAPTCHAs

House numbers on Google Street View can turn up as blobby, blurry things, so its engineers built a pretty crazy neural network to decipher them. Except this algorithm also turns out to be very very good at deciphering other blobby, blurry texts—like CAPTCHAs, which it cracks with 99 percent accuracy. Take that, human.

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drag2share: 10 Ingenious Reinventions Of Everyday Products

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/reinventions-of-everyday-products-2014-4

There are certain things that don't need to be reinvented, like the wheel.

But once in a while, someone transforms an everyday object no one thought could be improved.

Here are some of the best redesigns of regular household objects we've recently seen.

1. This kitchen table doubles in size in mere seconds.

fletcher expandable tableThe Fletcher Capstan Table expands from a standard 6.5- or 10-foot table to one that measures anywhere between 20 and 30 feet across.

The round tables come in four standard sizes, and expand by simply rotating the top 180 degrees manually or electronically by remote. The tables are customizable, and range from $50,000 to $70,000 on the UK Fletcher website.

2. “LiquiGlide” allows condiments to flow effortlessly out of a bottle.

liquiglide gifLiquiGlide is a coating of non-toxic materials that allows every single drop of your favorite condiment to flow out effortlessly, reducing a ton of waste.

Invented by five MIT students and their professor, LiquiGlide was named one of Time’s Best Inventions of 2012 and came in second in MIT’s $100,000 Entrepreneurship Competition. The inventors currently create the coating for specific clients.

3. These ‘invisible’ bike helmets inflate on impact.

hovding invisible bike helmetThe Hövding, or invisible bike helmet, is the brainchild of two students at the University of Lund. The Hövding is actually an air bag that uses a helium gas cylinder to inflate when its sensors detect a sudden jolt.

The airbag is like a hood, except it’s shock absorbent and able to withstand multiple head impacts. The helmets are expensive, retailing on Hövding for more than $400 (£299).

4. An Austrian artist reinvented the door with origami panels.

torggler evolution door large gifArtist Klemens Torggler's Evolution Door is a 4-panel "flip panel door" that opens and closes elegantly as though it's made of pieces of paper. 

Torggler has a few variations on this door, including one with origami-esque triangles that fold out to help the door move, and another system with rods that rotate two square panels. He sells them on his website for an undisclosed price (which depends on materials and design).

5. The toilet of the future folds up to save water and space.

iota toilet large gifTwo British university students invented the Iota toilet, which folds! in afte r use. Its creators claim it uses 50% less water than a stationary toilet, and is also comparatively smaller, so it can fit into tiny bathrooms. The  rimless design also makes it much easier to clean.

Currently the Iota is just a concept, but with an overwhelming Internet response, it could become a reality.

6. These light bulbs are Wi-Fi-enabled, multicolored, and smartphone-controlled.

lifx lightbulbFirst funded on Kickstarter where it raised more than $1 million, LIFX is a new kind of lightbulb that is not only multicolored, but can be controlled through any device with Wi-Fi and an app.

The bulbs can last up to 25 years, and have a lot of cool functions. In addition to changing colors, there's a sleep mode that dims your lights at night and brightens them in the morning, as well as a switch you control with your phone. The bulbs sell at LIFX for $99.

7. A shapeless water blob could replace today's water bottles.

ooho water blobOoho is a biodegradable and edible membrane made of brown algae that can hold water. The flexible water bottle kind of resembles a silicone implant, and is easy to break and sip from.

Ooho was developed by three London design students who were aiming to make something sustainable, durable, and cheap — it only costs two cents to make, though the bizarre shape could prove problematic for on-the-go drinking. Ooho currently remains a prototype.

8. This regenerating candle can be reused again and again.

Called the Rekindle Candle and designed by artist Benjamin Shine, this candle holder collects melting wax to form a new candle in the base.

As the candle burns, melting wax drips down from the candle and accumulates inside a transparent stem with a wick. Once the candle is completely melted, you can crack open the mold to remove a new, fully formed candle (you can then start the whole process over again).

Due to an outpouring of support, Shine's prototype is now coming to market.

9. An inflatable, revolutionary car seat will change the game for parents.

volvo inflatable car seatVolvo’s new rear-facing car seat inflates in 40 seconds using an integrated pump. It only weighs 11 pounds, which is about half the weight of a regular car seat. Deflated, it fits neatly into a backpack, especially convenient for parents traveling with a kid.

The reinvented car seat is made with a fabric that can sustain high internal pressure, originally developed by the military and now used by the boating industry. There's no word on when the inflatable seat could come to market, but hopefully it will be soon.

10. This nightlight keeps outlets free and lasts for 25 years.

SnapPower night light gifThe SnapRays GuideLight went absolutely crazy on Kickstarter after being posted in March, raising nearly $470,000 over its initial goal.

It’s pretty easy to see why, since the light replaces bulky night lights that take up outlet space, and is easy to assemble. You can pre-order the SnapRays GuideLight through creator Jeremy Smith’s website at $15 for one, $42 for three, $65 for five, and $120 for 10.

SEE ALSO: 12 Awesome Gifts Ideas That Appeared On 'Shark Tank'

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