Monday, 17 July 2017

Google Blocks

Okay, so, if like me, you've had your interest piqued by the prospect of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) over the past year and a half and have even invested in Oculus Rift and/or a Samsung Gear headset (*other VR units are available) and you've got yourself a copy of Unity or Unreal Engine and had great expectations about making this wonderfully great new VR world with magical spinning things and whooshy (yes, that's a word I just made up) swirls of rainbow goodness, only to the have to fire up Udemy or Coursera to find a course that teaches you how to make 3D models.

Several weeks later, you've made a potato.  A bad looking potato.  It is kind of 3D, but has lumps in the wrong places.  It does NOT look like the prancing unicorn that you envisaged for your main character representation in your snazzy new VR world.  Come to think of it, the rocks, buildings, cars, <insert any other shape or object that you wanted to have in your landscape> now all represent variants of your potato.  Just in different colours and with lumps in different places.

You have to admit it.  You are no 3D studio max / Blender 3D modeller.  Some people are (they get out less than you/I do, there's a reason for that) and I bow and curtsey to them with much honour and respect.  I do not have 5-10 years to learn everything about those tools to make a "thing".
I want to spend 1 week figuring out how to make my "thing" and then focus on making a world where my "thing" can prance around in and then spend some time to write small snippets of C# code that does "stuff" when my "thing" gets noticed by the collision detection event and then the "thing" does another "thing" and "whooooa! you weren't expecting that" happens.

Oh and I want to be able to make my "things" in the VR world.  I mean, what is the point of having a VR hat/helmet/visor thing if I only spend a brief period of time with it on my head?  I might as well stare at my laptop monitor and forget all about the VR world.

Oh, thanks Google!

Sometimes I like Google....they saw a gap here and thought, yeah, we'll fill that and get to market first.  I respect them for that.

Google may have answered my dreams....

Oh, darn it!  It doesn't support the Samsung gear (yet?).  I do have an Oculus, but I don't have a powerful enough laptop (Mac) to use it.  Grrrhh...grrhhhh...grrrhhhh.... why am I so cheap, my dreams are thwarted again, by me being a cheapskate...perhaps I shouldn't spend all my money on that damned custom car!

Friday, 7 July 2017

Roomba Inventor Joe Jones on His New Weed-Killing Robot, and What's So Hard About Consumer Robotics

Roomba Inventor Joe Jones on His New Weed-Killing Robot, and What's So Hard About Consumer Robotics

I've been toying with the idea of a GardenBot, for a few years now..... and many people have asked, "Why haven't you done it yet?".

Well.....I'll let the "expert" explain why.  It's not as simple as it sounds.


Although I am still in the process of making maybe that will evolve into my GardenBot at some point, we'll see...

Friday, 19 May 2017

Babies first Computer (Quantum)

Totally blatant work focused sales pitch material alert.  But, c'mon, you've got to admit, this is pretty bl00dy awesome!!!  The one below, not the one above.

IBM Q is an industry-first initiative to build commercially available universal quantum computers for business and science. While technologies like AI can find patterns buried in vast amounts of existing data, quantum computers will deliver solutions to important problems where patterns cannot be found and the number of possibilities that you need to explore to get to the answer are too enormous ever to be processed by classical computers. We invite you join us in exploring what might be possible with this new and vastly different approach to computing.

IBM Q has successfully built and tested two of its most powerful universal quantum computing processors. The first has 16 qubits and is for public use by developers, researchers, and programmers via the IBM Cloud at no cost. The second is the first prototype commercial processor. With 17 qubits, and incorporating materials, devices, and architecture innovations, this processor is the most powerful built by IBM to date. All of this sophisticated engineering makes it at least twice as powerful as the free version in the cloud. 

I know, the cynic in you is asking, "yeah, sounds great.  But, what can I actually DO with it?"

Good question.  Check out some ways of applying it here:

oh, and here is the MANUAL for writing code...yes, YOU can also write code and run it on this actual machine.  for free.  pause.   think about that for a minute.   now, go and read the manual and have some fun....

...and here's me "writing" my first app.  There's a visual front-end, but you can manually write the QASM code too:

Monday, 15 May 2017

Machine Learning

Stephen Wolfram has a great extract from his book about Machine Learning:

Whilst he says it's for Middle you get further and further into it, you realise those Middle Schoolers must be the top 1% next-gen geniuses we've been wondering about.

Anyway, I thought it was a great introduction to anyone who wants to get their head around the modern day "Machine Learning principles" and got lost reading about Scala, R, Python and Big Data Analytics instead of's all about APIs  :-)

I especially liked the Guardians of the Galaxy image matching section:'s all about the continual training.....

Monday, 1 May 2017

Subaru Sambar - fitting an Android Nexus 7 tablet....

We imported a Subaru Sambar from Japan a couple of years ago.  It was a replacement for a Bedford Rascal van that I purchased as a run around for hosting our 2 basset hound dogs.  They could get as muddy / grubby as they wanted and we could just stick them in the back of the van, wash them off and not get the interiors of our cars full of mud and dog fur.

After a year or so, I finally decided that I'd replace the Japanese radio (that didn't pick up anything anyway) with a cheapo head unit from ebay.  That wasn't that good either.  I then got to thinking, I wonder if I could "modernise" it a bit.
A few years back, I fitted an amp to my MG Midget, so that I could plug an iPod into it, instead of using a radio head unit.  I thought I'd do the same but update it a bit.
I was also going to fit a set of "wireless" parking sensors and give the engine a service, oh and underseal the bottom of the van....and whatever else I could think of doing whilst I was there.

Parts all ready to go...

Cognitive Applications

The Building Cognitive Applications with IBM® Watson Services series is a seven-volume collection that introduces IBM Watson® cognitive computing services. The series includes an overview of specific Watson services with their associated architectures and simple code examples. Each volume describes how you can use and implement these services in your applications through practical use cases.
The series includes the following volumes:

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced developer, this collection provides the information you need to start your research on Watson services. If your goal is to become more familiar with Watson in relation to your current environment, or if you are evaluating cognitive computing, this collection can serve as a powerful learning tool.

PDFs are currently in DRAFT - official release in JUNE.  Volume 7 - NLU doesn't appear to be online, yet, so keep checking back.....

It's not often that I give links to PDF training guides, but these PDFs are actually well done with some indepth examples that are done in "my style", ie. meaningful and lots of step-by-step screenshots!  If you want to have some un-official training, let's say on the "Conversation" service, get stuck into the PDF and walk through the samples, you'll be impressed just how quick you can get going......

Friday, 21 April 2017

"So, whatcha been up to?....."

I've been a little quiet on the "work orientated" technical / geek front for most of this year.  The main reason being, I re-focused my geeki-ness - mainly due to the work I was doing here last year:

Now, I've officially migrated to the IBM Watson group, where my role is to help transform businesses using Cloud based Cognitive technologies that can think like a human, using the IBM Watson API services.

Here's an official Vodafone press release on something I've been contributing to:

Vodafone to use artificial intelligence to speed up online queries

  • TOBi, Vodafone’s new artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot, is now helping some customers online
  • It will be available soon in the My Vodafone app new messaging service as well, so customers can speak to advisors whenever they want
Vodafone UK has launched TOBi – the artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot – as an innovative way of offering our customers a quicker web chat service.  TOBi, a virtual customer services’ agent, can handle a range of customer queries including device troubleshooting, usage and order tracking amongst many others.

Press release link:

...and this is only the start.  I'm sure I'll be posting more Cognitive Services geeki-ness over the coming year, if I actually manage to get some time to do so.  I wonder if I could write an AI bot to do it for me? or even write code for me?.... I need to spend more time in Airport departure lounges again!

Gratuitous sales pitch:

Get started yourself, visit: