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Teaching & Research Forum / Amazon Web Services
« on: December 23, 2017, 05:30:16 PM »
Amazon is big. In its last financial quarter, it sold $32bn (£25.6bn) worth of stuff worldwide, including $6bn of media, $10bn of sales outside North America, and $23bn of electronics “and other general merchandise”. That “other” category encompasses everything from crucifixes to sex toys, board games to plyboard, and mousemats printed with the faces of obscure TV and Radio personalities.

It has also diversified beyond its simple shopping business: the company will sell you something to be delivered in less than one hour, food from restaurants, and even digital content to be watched on your TV or listened to on your phone. And, of course, it has a hardware business which many other companies would kill for, producing ebook readers and tablets, and single-handedly creating the product category of “smart speaker” with the Echo.

But there’s another chunk of Amazon that you’re less likely to know about. It’s responsible for a full tenth of the company’s revenues, yet its “operating income” – the amount of money it leaves in Amazon’s coffers once expenses are accounted for – dwarfs any other sector, pulling in $861m compared to the $255m Amazon makes in North American sales and the $541m it loses internationally.

The division is Amazon Web Services, or AWS, the section of the company that sells cloud computing services to both the outside world and to Amazon itself. You can buy storage space to hold a huge database, bandwidth to host a website, or processing power to run complex software remotely. It lets companies and individuals avoid the hassle of buying and running their own hardware, while also letting them pay for only what they actually use.

It began as almost a point of principle for Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, before evolving to become the single most profitable part of the entire company. Now, AWS is moving into the third stage of its life, providing the underpinning for Amazon’s own quest to dominate not just our shopping, but our homes themselves.

Teaching & Research Forum / iCloud Photo Library
« on: December 23, 2017, 05:25:45 PM »
When you turn on iCloud Photo Library, all the photos and videos you take with iPhone or iPad are automatically uploaded, so you can access them from your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, and PC and on By storing all your photos and videos safely in iCloud, you’ll have more space on your iPhone to take even more great shots. And iCloud Photo Sharing makes it easy to show off just the photos and videos you want to just the people you want to see them.

iCloud Photo Library helps you make the most of the space available by automatically storing the original full-resolution photos and videos in iCloud and leaving behind lightweight versions that are perfectly sized for each device. You’ll always have access to everything on your device, even if you’re offline. And thanks to next-generation photo and video compression technology, photos and videos with the same quality as before now take up half the space.

Teaching & Research Forum / Google Cloud Services
« on: December 23, 2017, 05:24:33 PM »
By choosing Google Cloud Platform, you can build on the same future-proof infrastructure that allows Google to return billions of search results in milliseconds, serve 6 billion hours of YouTube video per month and provide storage for 1 Billion Gmail users. Our infrastructure is protected by more than 700 top experts in information, application, and network security. Google data centers are the most energy efficient and environmentally-friendly in the world.

Cloud Platform provides fast and consistent performance across the range of computing, storage and application services. With powerful processing, access to the memory you need and high IOPS, your application will deliver consistent performance to your users. You enjoy the benefits of reduced latency and avoid noisy-neighbor problems.

Teaching & Research Forum / IBM Cloud
« on: December 23, 2017, 05:22:23 PM »
The IBM Cloud has been built to help you solve problems and advance opportunities in a world flush with data. Whether it’s data you possess, data outside your firewall, or data that’s coming, the IBM Cloud helps you protect it, move it, integrate it and unlock intelligence from it — giving you what it takes to prevail in a competitive market.

IBM Cloud compute services flexibly drives the end user experiences that you and your customers want. Whether you need to tune an application with specific OS access requirements, provide a stateless API that services high request volumes and delivers special services, or implement microservices that quickly and automatically adapt to use, IBM Cloud has you covered

Eight years after launching its self-driving “moon shot,” Waymo, a k a Google’s driverless car company, is having its Neil Armstrong moment.

The company is now running its autonomous minivans around Phoenix with no human inside to grab the wheel if things go bad, CEO John Krafcik announced Tuesday. And in just a few months, it will invite passengers to climb aboard the world’s first driverless ride-hailing service.

This launch brings up a host of unanswered questions about the details and practical elements of such a service, but what’s already clear is Waymo is taking one of the final steps on the long road toward taking the human driver out of the picture and finally cashing in on the profits and safety benefits that come with the transition to robot chauffeurs.

“Fully self-driving cars are here,” Krafcik said at Web Summit in Lisbon, where he announced the move.

Waymo took its first driverless spin on public roads in October 2015, when it was still officially part of Google. (In December 2015, it launched as a stand-alone company under the umbrella of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.) Steve Mahan, a blind man, took a solo, 10-minute ride around Austin, Texas in the company’s “pod car,” the funky one without a steering wheel or pedals (Waymo retired those cars this summer in favor of its minivans).

The difference here, Krafcik says, is that the cars prowling Phoenix sans humans aren’t part of a demo. “What you’re seeing now marks the start of a new phase for Waymo,” he said in Lisbon.

Software Engineering / The Google self-driving car project is now Waymo
« on: December 03, 2017, 07:28:28 PM »
Waymo is a self-driving technology company with a mission to make it safe and easy for people and things to move around.
From our beginnings as the Google self-driving car project, we’ve been working to make our roads safer and increase mobility for the millions of people who cannot drive. Our ultimate goal is to help millions of people get safely from door to door at the push of a button.

Japan’s big-betting holding firm SoftBank is buying Boston Dynamics, one of the most highly regarded robotics labs in the world, from Google’s parent company Alphabet, for an undisclosed price.

Google acquired Boston Dynamics in 2013 under the leadership of Andy Rubin, the co-inventor of Android, who was leading a wave of acquisitions of robotics companies under the search giant.

Boston Dynamics’ robots routinely make headlines, including a high-profile demo at this year’s TED conference. The company, led by CEO Marc Raibert, has made a robotic cheetah that can run 28 miles per hour, a robotic dog that it recently used to deliver packages to doorsteps in Boston, and most recently a massive legged and wheeled robot that can clear hurdles and walk down stairs.

The firm has been hailed by other roboticists for its ability to blend hardware and artificial intelligence to make machines capable of dynamic, agile movements. Its most recent wheeled robot, Handle, can manipulate objects that are comparable to its own weight, and its four-legged, animal-like robots can maneuver over different types of terrain.

One industry source said earlier this year that Boston Dynamics’ most recent machine “changes the whole ballgame.”

SoftBank is also buying Schaft, a Japan-based robotics firm that unveiled a bipedal walking robot last year, from Alphabet. A source close to the matter said Schaft, which was part of Google, never fully integrated into the company and operated as a sort of separate entity taking a different approach to robotics than the rest of Google.

Science and Information / Boston Dynamics
« on: December 03, 2017, 07:26:31 PM »
Boston Dynamics is an American engineering and robotics design company that is best known for the development of BigDog, a quadruped robot designed for the U.S. military with funding from Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and DI-Guy, software for realistic human simulation. Early in the company's history, it worked with the American Systems Corporation under a contract from the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD) to replace naval training videos for aircraft launch operations with interactive 3D computer simulations featuring DI-Guy characters.The company is a pioneer in the field of robotics and it is one of the most advanced in its domain

Marc Raibert is the company's president and project manager. He spun the company off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1992.[9]

On 13 December 2013, the company was acquired by Google X (later X, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc.) for an unknown price where it was managed by Andy Rubin until his departure from Google in 2014.Immediately before the acquisition, Boston Dynamics transferred their DI-Guy software product line to VT MÄK, a simulation software vendor based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

On 8 June 2017, Alphabet Inc. announced the sale of the company to Japan's SoftBank Group for an undisclosed sum.

Software Engineering / What is HCI research?
« on: December 03, 2017, 07:22:56 PM »
To me, research in HCI involves both understanding how humans interact with computers and creating better ways for humans to interact with computers. A more expansive view makes HCI also about understanding how humans use computers to interact with other humans, and then creating better ways for humans to interact with other humans via computers.

By “computer” I mean any sort of computational device (e.g., smartphones, smartwatches, tablets, Internet-of-things) – not just a traditional desktop or laptop computer.

Because over 3 billion people around the world now directly interface with computers of some sort, via either traditional computers or mobile devices. To have computer science as a field only study computers for their own sake without taking humans into account is to ignore a core reason why computers were invented: to serve humans.

As cheesy as it sounds, I believe that humans and computers should be viewed together as a human-computer system to make the most of both sides' strengths. Do we want to keep working toward a future where we're replaced by machines running fully-automated algorithms, or one where we work symbiotically with machines? I'd much rather prefer the latter. Of course, full automation is preferable for many problems where it's too slow or tedious for humans to intervene, but I still often prefer for humans to be in control, albeit with machine assistance.

Software Engineering / Research on HCI
« on: December 03, 2017, 07:22:15 PM »

Our research includes innovation in user-interface software tools, studies of computer-supported cooperative work and tools to support it, gesture recognition, data visualization, intelligent agents, human-robot interaction, visual interface design, intelligent tutoring systems, cognitive models, and understanding and building platforms that maximize the positive organizational and social impact of technology.

A quarter century after the department was opened, the Human-Computer Interaction Institute continues this tradition through our multidisciplinary research and education initiatives. The HCII broadly designs, builds and studies new tools and technologies to support human activity and organization in order to create theory for the field and artifacts for the real world. Our research includes empirical and analytic studies of behavior among groups and individuals to inform the design and evaluation of new technologies. Students from other departments at CMU also find a rich source of research opportunities in the HCII; and the HCII has a rich history for research and development in partnership with industry.

Software Engineering / What is Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)?
« on: December 03, 2017, 07:20:57 PM »
Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is a field of study focusing on the design of computer technology and, in particular, the interaction between humans (the users) and computers. It encompasses multiple disciplines, such as computer science, cognitive science, and human-factors engineering. While initially concerned with computers, HCI has since expanded to cover almost all forms of information technology design.

HCI emerged in the 1980s. It was the crucial instrument in popularizing the idea that the interaction between a computer and the user should resemble a human-to-human, open-ended dialogue. It initially focused on using knowledge in cognitive and computer sciences to improve the usability of computers (i.e., concentrating on how easy computers are to learn and use). However, since then—and thanks to the advent of technologies such as the Internet and the smartphone—it has steadily encompassed more fields (including information visualization, social computing, etc.). The relevance of HCI in the 21st century is particularly apparent in the breakthrough of new modes of interactivity, namely voice user interfaces (VUIs).

In many ways, HCI was the forerunner that would grow to become what we now call “User Experience (UX) Design.” Despite that, some differences persist between HCI and UX design. Practitioners of HCI tend to be more academically focused, and are involved in scientific research and developing empirical understandings of users. UX designers, on the other hand, tend to be industry-focused, and most UX designers are involved in building a product or service—for example, a smartphone app or a website. Regardless of this difference, the practical considerations for products that UX designers concern themselves with have direct links to the findings of HCI specialists about the mindsets of users. Due to this, there is little point in separating these realms to any great extent.

Software Engineering / Human Computer Interaction - brief intro
« on: December 03, 2017, 07:20:38 PM »
Human-computer interaction (HCI) is an area of research and practice that emerged in the early 1980s, initially as a specialty area in computer science embracing cognitive science and human factors engineering. HCI has expanded rapidly and steadily for three decades, attracting professionals from many other disciplines and incorporating diverse concepts and approaches. To a considerable extent, HCI now aggregates a collection of semi-autonomous fields of research and practice in human-centered informatics. However, the continuing synthesis of disparate conceptions and approaches to science and practice in HCI has produced a dramatic example of how different epistemologies and paradigms can be reconciled and integrated in a vibrant and productive intellectual project.

Until the late 1970s, the only humans who interacted with computers were information technology professionals and dedicated hobbyists. This changed disruptively with the emergence of personal computing in the later 1970s. Personal computing, including both personal software (productivity applications, such as text editors and spreadsheets, and interactive computer games) and personal computer platforms (operating systems, programming languages, and hardware), made everyone in the world a potential computer user, and vividly highlighted the deficiencies of computers with respect to usability for those who wanted to use computers as tools.

Higher Education / Study Abroad Safety Tips
« on: November 29, 2017, 01:51:38 PM »
e all know that studying abroad can be a really fun experience and you should do everything you can to make the most of your time abroad. However, as well as having lots of fun you need to be aware of some of the dangers that you can encounter when you plan to study abroad.

This article is going to provide you firstly with some links and tips on how to find out more information about the country you are going to be traveling to, and then we will give you some hints and tips on how to stay safe and some general rules you should follow.

Travel Warnings and Country Information
Before you depart you should try and gather as much information as you can about current travel warnings that are in place to specific countries. It is recommended that you do not travel to countries on these lists. You should also be aware that most insurance companies will void any coverage you have if you are injured or hurt in countries that are on these lists. The best way to find what the current travel warnings are is to visit:

As well as general country travel warnings it is good to get as much information about the country you are traveling to such as traditions, procedures on how to do things and much more. To find country specific information we recommend you visit:

US State Department Country Information Sheets
UK Country Information Sheets
We also recommend using resources such as Google and Wikipedia which will provide you with more specific country information.

In Country Safety Tips
Hopefully before you have left you would have studied up and learnt as much about your adopted country before you have left so this will put you in good stead for when you are there as you will have a better knowledge of customs and traditions.

You should also take care to follow some very simple rules so that you do not bring unwanted trouble to you:

Stay Alert and Trust your Instincts

Its always good to be alert and aware of what is going on around you. If you are in a busy market or square, just make sure you are aware of the people and what is going on around you and if you feel uneasy or are not sure about something get out and away from the place. At the end of the day you should trust your instincts and if you are not happy about something move away and to an area that you feel more comfortable.

Higher Education / How Important Is Socializing While Studying Abroad?
« on: November 29, 2017, 01:50:53 PM »
As you step outside your little nest and decide to fly abroad to do your higher studies, try to develop an open mind. If you think that all you need to prepare yourself for is just academic hard work, then think again!  The whole purpose of studying abroad is to experience a new social and cultural lifestyle. This experience could be what you need to develop life-changing skills that would help better both your personal and professional life.

When abroad, it helps to be curious about social aspects such as foreign culture and their people and languages. Embrace the differences that you experience and let the culture shock not affect you too much. Universities generally offer international students English and language classes to help them connect better locally. These maybe helpful in the long run if you decide to stay and make a living abroad; fluency in language is always a big plus anywhere you go.  In non- English speaking places, natives are generally appreciative of the fact that you try to speak to them in the local language to communicate with them.

It helps to be socially sensitive and get accustomed to local festivities and social norms. A good way to do this is go for host family accommodation. Many universities have this option to help students get back up on their feet if they get hit by nostalgia. The host family generally provides them with at least two meals in a day and a room and their company in the house whenever needed. It is one of the best ways to mingle with the locals and feel the essence of the place.

Higher Education / 7 Essential Tips for Those Planning to Study Abroad
« on: November 29, 2017, 01:50:22 PM »
Studying abroad is a global dream of millions of students. As far as we all understand, education plays a very important role in every person's life today, and sometimes it happens so that studying in a foreign country, rather foreign education, can give you better knowledge, skills and a more respective job.
Unfortunately, not all students who want to study abroad have such opportunities. Moreover, sometimes they don't want or are afraid of obtaining this chance. What can we say? Never miss a chance to study abroad, if you have one! This is your opportunity to get both good education and a great experience.
So if you are one of those lucky ones to study abroad, there are 7 essential tips for you to remember and follow in order to make this process worthy. Ask the following questions to yourself.
What country do you want to study in?

You should understand that different countries have different educational environment, and that is why some of them may be not very good for you personally. It would not be wise to go somewhere (a country) only because you like its climate or sights.
What can you do? You may ask your friends who studied abroad to help you here: they have the experience, and they may advise you something. One more variant is to ask special education consultants: just tell them about your study needs, and they will advise the most suitable countries for you.
Certainly, there are some countries in the world that are considered the best ones to study in, as they provide the best colleges and universities as well as the best educational system in general. We bet you know them already (the USA, Germany, Australia and the UK would be your perfect choice anyway).
But if you want to look beyond the traditional choices and go with countries like Canada or Ireland or New Zealand where the post-study work options are quite good and plenty, then you might be taking a right decision.

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