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.

CHECK IT OUT HERE



Although I am still in the process of making K9-RPi3_bot...so 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: https://www.research.ibm.com/ibm-q/learn/quantum-computing-applications/


update:
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:

http://blog.stephenwolfram.com/2017/05/machine-learning-for-middle-schoolers/

Whilst he says it's for Middle Schoolers....as 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 APIs....it's all about APIs  :-)

I especially liked the Guardians of the Galaxy image matching section:


...it'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:

http://tonyisageek.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/ibm-bmw-and-iot.html

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: https://mediacentre.vodafone.co.uk/pressrelease/vodafone-use-artificial-intelligence-speed-online-queries/


https://blog.vodafone.co.uk/2017/04/12/meet-tobi-chatbot-latest-addition-vodafone-uks-customer-service-team/

...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: https://www.ibm.com/watson/developercloud/starter-kits.html

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

World's smallest computers (with Deep Learning)

Millimeter-Scale Computing. Real-life smart dust.


The CubisensTM platform by CubeWorks enables the first truly autonomous wireless sensing platform measuring less than a millimeter. Cubisens systems are able to sense and process their environment, wirelessly transmit the results or store them for later usage. The versaltility of the Cubisens platform allows multiple units to be combined together to tackle larger monitoring and sensing applications




There is a great article (that led me to the above site), that you can read HERE.   Here's the snippet that caught my attention:

'The idea is to bring neural networks to the Internet of Things. “A lot of motion detection cameras take pictures of branches moving in the wind—that’s not very helpful,” says Blaauw. Security cameras and other connected devices are not smart enough to tell the difference between a burglar and a tree, so they waste energy sending uninteresting footage to the cloud for analysis. Onboard deep-learning processors could make better decisions, but only if they don’t use too much power. The Michigan group imagines that deep-learning processors could be integrated into many other Internet-connected things besides security systems. For example, an HVAC system could decide to turn the air-conditioning down if it sees several people putting on their coats.'



........nanobots, anyone  :-)

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Personal Linux Server - Joker

I was just pointed at this little gem by a good friend.  I am very impressed.


"Joker Eco-system is an open hardware and open software project, available at fair price! First of all it’s a personal mobile Linux server with Intel x86 64-bit CPU and battery. Additional modules available – IoT, SDR, Storage, Network, E-Ink Display and many more."


"Joker personal server now can move where you need it most. Thanks to Joker Walker module with two motors and treads. Neural networks (NN) used for processing images from camera and for speech recognition. You can say “Hey Joker, follow me” or “Hey Joker, best WiFi signal” or implement your own features!"

CLICK HERE TO SEE MORE




I'll take one, including the main module, the empathy and walker modules please.  Then using the existing software I can achieve what I was attempting to do with ArcTuRus.  Yeah, I know, it's cheating a little bit...but hey, time is flying by and ArcTuRus has just been gathering dust whilst I was distracted working on "cars" and "Cognitive" things:

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Narita Boy : Travel across dimensional planes in this retro-futuristic pixel game

During 2016, I was pondering a game idea, potentially using VR or AR about travelling about in a multi-dimensional universe.  As is always true, my concept & vision was set very very high - I had the vision, but lacked the skills & tooling to make it happen.  I got hold of Unity and UnrealEngine, took some courses on how to make basic things using C# and C++ for either engine, then....well, then work/work took a higher priority... isn't that always the way?  I see it more of a "delay it" than a "drop it", I will come back to my vision some time soon.....

...and then I noticed this little gem on KickStarter.  The vision sounds familiar, very familiar - there must have been something floating around the ether during 2016 that a few of us tuned into.  Well, I bow down to "Ed" for finding the time, having the patience and having access to a group of skilled people to help him with his vision.  I also love the 80s pixel approach.

Have I backed it?  Sure have!  "If" it actually happens, they are looking at a Dec 2018 release time, hey, by then, I may have actually had time to make some progress of my own - unless "other non-work things" manage to distract me along the way....

Narita Boy : Travel across dimensional planes in this retro-futuristic pixel game:


Thursday, 16 February 2017

IBM Watson opens $200 million IoT headquarters in Munich

Well, seeing as I spent quite a bit of time there last year, seems right to post the official news:



"Some clients will be a permanent fixture at IBM offices in Munich. BMW employees will work at the new center to place Watson voice control into cars and explore ways to create personalized experiences."





Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Experience macOS in Virtual Reality


VR Desktop is an app for Mac that enables you to use a VR headset such as the Oculus Rift to interact with macOS in a Virtual Desktop Environment.

With VR Desktop, users can work, game, or otherwise interact with their Mac while using a VR headset. You can load up custom virtual environments such as a Desk or Space scene, and create virtual screens for maximising productivity.
There’s been many naysayers ruling out Mac as a VR platform. We’re here to prove that Macs are capable of useful VR applications. VR Desktop works on modern Macs with discrete graphics cards.
VR Desktop is compatible with Oculus Rift DK2 and macOS 10.11 and later.  We are targeting Oculus Rift CV1 and HTC Vive support as soon as those devices support the Mac platform. Our sources tells us that HTC will be adding Mac support for Vive in Q1/Q2.





Might be about time to dig out the Oculus Rift that is still boxed up under my desk and give it some use?




Thursday, 2 February 2017

It's all about Perspective


This is where the "magic" happens....well, when I'm not doing the above in various hotels....

You can look at it like this:

or, you can look at it like that:


and now that "work/work" has finished...time to put on some music and have some fun (you might have noticed some things have moved around) [full panoramic this time]:



Thursday, 26 January 2017

Fitting a replacement UMD drive for a PSP 2003

On my retro-month journey, as I mentioned previously, I found a drawer with a broken PSP 1000, a working PSP 1003 and a couple of games.

I purchased a new PSU for the PSP 1003 device and a new higher capacity battery, when they arrived, I juiced them up and the PSP 1003 fire up and worked a treat.  I even managed to get it connected to the WiFi (albeit to the "guest network" as it needs to have security turned off).
I downloaded the latest firmware, rebooted and it works great.

Then, whilst wandering through town over the weekend, I noticed a couple of PSP 2003 devices in one of those cash convertor shop windows.  Whilst the missus was in the "knitting shop", I popped in asked to have a look.  Naturally, it had no PSU and no UMDs to test it.  For £15 I thought I'd take a gamble.... it looked to be in relatively good condition, no damage anywhere and the screen and buttons all felt pretty non-abused.

I got home, plugged in the PSU and charged up the battery.  It booted up, things were looking good.  I put a UMD in....it didn't make any whirring noises (as it should) and then reported it couldn't read the disc.  I tried a few more.  Then the reality sunk in.  The UMD drive was broken.



Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Minidisc from a Mac

You have a laptop Mac.  You have a portable MiniDisc player.  You want the two to work together.  How on earth do you go about it?   Read on.....read on......








Thursday, 19 January 2017

Let's code some Atari C....


Want to have a quick walk through the history of the C programming language, my history, look at some beards and then look at some C code written for the Atari ST (on a Mac) and then compiled and linked/built on an Atari ST (emu) and run to prove it works?



Tuesday, 17 January 2017

How to send an email in 1984

Awesome, just pure awesome.

Ah, Prestel!....the Ceefax style internet, before HTML/CSS/JavaScript and all that other noise got in the way.  Actually, I like the interface, it takes me back...maybe someone should make a new front-end to f@cebook Prestel style  :-D



I love the fact they have the tape cassette program noise on the end credits, for you to save to tape and then load the program after the programme.  pure genius.

Ah....I must be getting old & nostalgic, or maybe the "new" stuff just isn't doing it anymore.  oh look, the new iPhone 8 is coming out.  "8". yes, "8". keep peddling the sequels instead of making something "new".  grouch, grouch, grumble, grumble..... "it wasn't like this back in my day".  LOL

HA!HA!HA!  If Google were invented in the 80s:

Actually, that gives me an idea for the Atari ST.......

Saturday, 14 January 2017

30year old Atari ST gets a dusting off

Whilst doing some tidying up between Xmas and New Year, I found myself in the attic/loft and I found that I had a couple of ATARI ST home computer systems sitting in a few boxes.


Well....I had a few days spare and it is that time of year to do some pointless things that are not strictly work related, but are technical and retro.

After rummaging through the boxes I found that I had bought a Hard Disc drive back in 2007, this got me thinking and I wondered if I could do something useful with the Atari ST, apart from just playing games...


I've even got it setup to compile/build C code too.... let's see what wonders I can create during the following year.  Okay, so it's not going to be competing with the Unreal Engine C++ work I've been doing, but it'll keep me out of trouble.

Friday, 6 January 2017

free up space on a Pi Zer0

Whilst suffering from man-flu over this initial New Year period, I decided that I could not handle the perpetual boredom of illness.  Without the missus knowing, I snuck a Pi Zer0 into the bedroom and being very small, she didn't notice it plugged in on the bedside table......
I had previously setup this device back in May 2016, but hadn't found a reasonable use for it, it had an 8Gb microSD card in it and a WiFi dongle attached.  It was connected to the network in moments.

Using my trusty sshclient from my Amazon Fire Tablet (the "proper Mac laptop" being banned, as I was "ill" and that would tempt me to be doing work/work stuff), I ssh'd into the Pi Zer0.
First thing I noticed was that it only had 2.2Gb free!!! WTF?!?! This was a default install.  How do I claim some of that space back?  It turns out that this is the norm.

After a quick check, I did indeed have a lot of the bloatware installed - time to get rid of it:
>sudo apt-get purge wolfram-engine

>sudo apt-get remove --purge libreoffice*
>sudo apt-get purge minecraft-pi
>sudo apt-get purge scratch
>sudo apt-get purge sonic-pi
>sudo apt-get purge gpicview
>sudo apt-get purge penguinspuzzle
>sudo apt-get clean
>sudo apt-get autoremove


pi@raspzero:/opt $ df -h
Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/root       6.1G  2.1G  3.8G  36% /
devtmpfs        237M     0  237M   0% /dev
tmpfs           242M     0  242M   0% /dev/shm
tmpfs           242M  8.4M  233M   4% /run
tmpfs           5.0M  4.0K  5.0M   1% /run/lock
tmpfs           242M     0  242M   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
/dev/mmcblk0p6   63M   21M   43M  33% /boot
tmpfs            49M     0   49M   0% /run/user/1000

pi@raspzero:/opt $ 

After that, I now have a total of 3.8Gb of free space.  Wow, what a difference.

Now, time to set it up as a TOR proxy......why? well, why not.... I've got the time and only tissues, sudafed & cough medicine to keep me company...