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M Is For Moneypenny

August 26th, 2015
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Taking a page from 007, Facebook today introduced M.

Today we’re beginning to test a new service called M. M is a personal digital assistant inside of Messenger that completes tasks and finds information on your behalf. It’s powered by artificial intelligence that’s trained and supervised by people.

Unlike other AI-based services in the market, M can actually complete tasks on your behalf. It can purchase items, get gifts delivered to your loved ones, book restaurants, travel arrangements, appointments and way more.

The most interesting part to me is the human supervision1 on top of the software.

 

The world of AI driven personal assistants is definitely the new Holy Grail for any software companies nowadays. So far probably the best and most successful example is Amazon’s Alexa by means of Echo. Despite everything, that system is still quite limited in functionalities and cannot make decisions on itself.

 

The Facebook approach instead seems to have a much broader scope in principle and looks like a real-life personal assistant. On top of that consider the amount of information that Facebook already holds on us. M probably will know you better than you mum.

 


  1. Cue the screams of horror from the privacy advocates. 

Comedy Actor Roundtable

August 25th, 2015
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Comedy acting Emmy nominees Ricky Gervais (Derek), Don Cheadle (House of Lies) and Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth) join Fred Armisen (Portlandia) and Jordan Peele (Key & Peele), who write and produce their Emmy nominated shows, and actor Thomas Middleditch who stars in the Emmy nominated Silicon Valley for The Hollywood Reporter’s Comedy Actor Emmy Roundtable where the actors share how and when they discovered they were funny.

An absolute must watch. Actually, while you are there, you should check the entire new season of the THR’s Roundtables.

A Movie Review

August 24th, 2015

I’ve just seen an amazing movie.

 

A movie that I wouldn’t have probably seen if it was left by my choice. You can call it an accident if you wish. And sometimes life you give you the gift on an happy accident. This was one of those.

 

I will tell you the name of the movie, but not now. If I do you’ll probably stop reading here and go over to Google.

 

The movie itself is about many different things. It involves the lives and struggles of two American teenagers, struggling to find their place in their high school. For one it’s a life choice; for the other, it’s a choice made for her by her own life.

 

Of all the many things, to me the big takeaway is how two people are obliged to react to the impossible. How they are faced with choices and emotions too big for them. Emotions and feelings that no one should ever have to experience, let alone while being of their age.

 

The maturity and the reactions shown on screen by the actors were astoundingly good. You could actually feel those emotions transferring from them to you. Feeling part of the movie, of the story. All the crowd as one, reacting together to the inevitable, with hopes and fears and yes, maybe even a tear.

 

A big component of this movie, was its music. During every scene, from the most simple to the most dramatic, the music was always there underlying every single emotion, amplifying it to perfection. I caught myself many time during the movie asking how was it possible that those melodies were always 100% right. The closing credits gave me the answers: all the music (except for few commercial pieces) was written specifically for this movie by Brian Eno. That piece of credit made it all clear.

 

With his music you can feel an extra dimension. It’s not the gimmick of 3D computers. It’s an higher dimension, a real 4D experience if you wish. Characters on screen didn’t have to talk. Their faces, their looks were brought alive by the melody, sometimes sweet and sometimes bitter.

 

I could probably going on about this movie for a long while, but I may end up ruining the experience of seeing it and experience it first hand, which in this case is the only real way to really enjoying it.

 

So please, do yourself a favor and go see Me and Earl and the Dying Girl as soon as you can.

 

You will thank me later.

The Martian In Real Life

August 21st, 2015

“The Martian” merges the fictional and factual narratives about Mars, building upon the work NASA and others have done exploring Mars and moving it forward into the 2030s, when NASA astronauts are regularly traveling to Mars and living on the surface to explore. Although the action takes place 20 years in the future, NASA is already developing many of the technologies that appear in the film.

Absolutely fascinating.

 

Whatsapp Web Finally Comes To iOS

August 20th, 2015

The long wait is finally over! Since last night Whatsapp on web is finally compatible with the iPhone and iOS in general.

 

The feature is slowly rolling out to all users with a server side update, so you won’t see any update in the AppStore. Once you get it, you’ll see a new menu item in the settings: Whatsapp Web. From there you can scan the QR code displayed online and sync the devices together. From that menu you can also review all the open sessions and find out with which device you are connected.

 

But the news don’t stop here. It actually gets better. With this new functionality you can now use Whatsapp from your iPad. Simply go to http://web.whatsapp.com from Safari and then use the sharing menu to Request Desktop Site. The page will reload and voila’, the QR will appear in all its glory and you can start using the service.

 

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On a laptop you can enable notifications from within the browser, on the iPad you lose that ability, so you’ll see new message as long as your browser is open. It’s a baby step, but still is better than nothing.

The Food Of A Spy

August 19th, 2015
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Photographer Henry Hargreaves is known for using food to tell a story, and his latest series tells a story about James Bond. Specifically, it tells the story of the globe-trotting agent’s culinary appetites—as distinct from his carnal ones and his bloodthirst. “Dying To Eat” brings to sumptuous visual life the vast array of meals Bond dined on mostly in the book series, which fans could previously only imagine. Interestingly, the meals reveal more about this inscrutable man than most of his films do.

Amazing collection of picture, around a very neat idea. It’s almost like taking a peek behind the curtain of a celebrity.

2015 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

August 19th, 2015
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The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is an automotive charitable event held each year on the Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, California, considered the most prestigious event of its kind. It is the finale of Monterey Car Week held in August every year.
 
A Concours d’Elegance (French, literally “a competition of elegance”) is an event open to both prewar and postwar collector cars in which they are judged for authenticity, function, history, and style.1

2015 was an amazing edition. Do yourself a favour, go and check out the full gallery at the link above. You’ll be looking at car heaven, thanks to the incredible pictures of photographer Drew Phillips.

 

Image Credit: Copyright 2015 Drew Phillips / AOL

 


  1. Definition from Wikipedia 

Apple Pay On Apple Watch Could Reach 95% Adoption Rate

August 18th, 2015

Ben Lovejoy writing for 9to5mac:

A new survey of Apple Watch owners by Wristly found that 80% of those in the US and UK have already used Apple Pay, and suggests that this number could eventually hit 95%. The survey was limited to the two countries where Apple Pay is currently available.

The firm found that only 19% of Watch owners hadn’t yet tried Apple Pay, and of those only a quarter of them either had concerns or saw no benefits, suggesting that the rest were likely to try it at some later point.

I can definitely see how these numbers came to be. Since my bank started supporting Apple Pay, I’ve always used anytime I could. It’s very convenient and fast and it’s easier than picking up your credit/debit card from your wallet.

 

Despite that, I’ve only used my Apple Watch to pay in very few occasions just after the initial roll out. In my day to day experience I’ve found the phone to be more convenient, reliable and quicker1 than the watch.

Unsurprisingly, most Apple Watch owners said they preferred the watch to their iPhone when it came to using Apple Pay, just 9% preferring to use the phone.

Among other inconveniences, the biggest one that has prevented my from reliably using the watch is due to the weird placement of the different point of sales in the shops. Some of them are at a convenient height and easily reachable on the counter, many others are placed such as you need to do some weird twists and turns with your wrists, defeating its ease of use.

 

Looks like this time I’m in the small minority.

 


  1. Especially if you pre-authorize the phone seconds prior the actual transaction.