Here’s another installment of a new regular feature on Global Nerdy:3 things, in which I take a programming or technology topic and post three things that I found of interest on that topic. Today’s topic: three recent developments in the tech world that you might not have expected.
Ikea gets into the software business, buys TaskRabbit
After decades of being the official unofficial furniture vendor for software companies (upon reflection, my desks at home and at the Sourcetoad office are from Ikea), Ikea now is a software company. First, there was the Ikea Place app, which harnesses Apple’s ARKit augmented reality framework to see what their furniture would look like in your living room…
Ikea already had a relationship with TaskRabbit where people in the U.K. and U.S. could use the app to help them find local people who could help with assembling their Ikea furniture.
Bill Gates ditches his Windows Phone, switches to Android
Let me remind you of some predictions about Windows Phone that were made by respected tech pundits no more than six years ago. Here’s what IDC had to say about the future of Windows Phone back in 2011:
“The new alliance brings together Nokia’s hardware capabilities and Windows Phone’s differentiated platform. We expect the first devices to launch in 2012. By 2015, IDC expects Windows Phone to be number 2 operating system worldwide behind Android.”
And here’s how Gartner thought the mobile OS market would be in 2015:
However, the prize for the most tragicomically-wrong prediction about the 2015 smartphone market has to go to Pyramid Research, who predicted that Windows Phone would take over the number one spot:
Perhaps you’ve seen videos of Google’s Tilt Brush VR-painting rig and software in action:
How would you like to code a simple version that lets you do something similar, on an iPhone 6S or later, in about 15 minutes? Here’s what it would look like:
I used the app that I’ll show you how to write at Tampa iOS Meetup to draw “AR rules” in the middle of the Sourcetoad boardroom. Then, I walked to the right of my artwork:
And then its left:
And then behind it:
Do you want to learn the basics of ARKit so that you can start coding your own augmented reality apps for iOS? Come to Tampa iOS Meetup tomorrow, Tuesday, September 26th at 6:30 p.m. at the Sourcetoad office, bring your Mac, and I’ll show you how!
The article is packed with stories of male nerds bereft of all common sense. One of the bits that made me laugh out loud is this quote from Nvidia engineer James Alitzer, who somehow both agreed to be named in the article and said this (the emphasis on the stupid bits is mine):
“I’m sitting in a soundproof booth right now because I’m afraid someone will hear me. When you’re discussing gender issues, it’s almost religious, the response. It’s almost zealotry.”
If you really want to learn something about the controversy of which Damore is the slovenly, unkempt center, you’re far better served by taking a look at Jez Humble’s presentation at the recent Agile2017 conference in Orlando.Go to this video of his presentation, skip to the 49:25 mark, and hear some of the best rebuttals to the whiny claims of James Damore and his “women and coloreds ruin everything” ilk.
Here’s a new regular feature on Global Nerdy:3 things, in which I’ll take a programming or technology topic and post three things that I found of interest on that topic. Today’s topic is a hot one: data science, which often goes hand in hand with Python.
The best data science course on the internet, according to someone who’s created an online master’s in data science
In the process of creating his own data science master’s program based on online resources, Udacity content developer David Venturi created a review-driven guide that recommends the best courses for each subject within data science, including:
Gauge Donald Trump’s mood by using Python to do sentiment analysis on his tweets
If you’ve been meaning to get started with Python and text analysis, here’s a fun way to do it: performing textual analysis on the tweets of the world’s first internet-troll-turned-head-of-state, as shown in this article, Sentiment analysis on Trump’s tweets using Python.
Tweepy to access the Twitter API and fetch Donald Trump’s tweets
Every week (okay, with the exception of last week, thanks to one Hurricane Irma), I compile a list of events for developers, technologists, and tech entrepreneurs in and around the Tampa Bay area. We’ve got a lot of events going on this week, and here they are!
Do you have an tech or entrepreneurial event in or around the Tampa Bay area that you’d like to see listed here? Drop me a line about it at firstname.lastname@example.org!
A photo I took during Hurricane Irma, which shows my Android phone with the FM radio app on.
When Hurricane Irma closed in on the Tampa Bay area Sunday evening, the power went out at around 7:30, and soon afterward, cellular service became spotty and then disappeared entirely. However, we weren’t cut off from information about Irma because we fell back on a 1930s technology, FM radio, which is built into every smartphone, and accessible on many Android phones (including mine).
In the age of the smartphone, you might think your Android or iPhone can replace a radio receiver as a lifeline during a disaster. After all, while a radio receiver is audio-only and one-way, your smartphone can both send and receive text, audio, picture, video, and location information — but only if the cellular towers nearby are up and running. If the nearby tower is damaged, loses power, or gets overloaded, you’ll be cut off and left with the dreaded “No Service” indicator on your phone.
Consult just about any disaster preparation guide for a checklist of “must-haves”, and one of the items on that checklist will be a battery-powered radio. When phone and internet service fails, you can fall back on radio as long as you have batteries. (Better still, if you have a radio with a hand-crank generator, you don’t even need batteries.)
We have a nearly century-long tradition of radio stations providing vital information during disasters of all kinds. In the case of Irma, they did one better and teamed up with TV newsrooms. During the storm, many radio stations in the Tampa area teamed up with TV stations to provide continuous coverage of and information about the storm, such as where it was, how quickly and in which direction it was moving, and what to do. It was a valuable resource for many people, and it may have even saved a few lives.
You may think that you don’t own a portable FM radio, but chances are that you do. It’s just hidden away in your smartphone.
Just about every mobile phone maker — even the big ones who manufacture their own processor and graphics chips, such as Apple and Samsung — gets their cellular modem chipsets from a single manufacturer: Qualcomm. In fact, Qualcomm pretty much has a monopoly on these chipsets, which in addition to sending and receiving cellular signals, have an FM receiver baked in. You wouldn’t know it in the U.S., as fewer than half the smartphones have the FM receiver enabled, and they’re all Androids.
My Android phone is a Moto G4, and in addition to having an enabled FM receiver, it also comes “out of the box” with the FM Radio app, which simply provides a user interface for the FM radio capability. When the power went out in our part of Tampa on Sunday at around 7:30 p.m. and the cell service disappeared shortly after, I fired up the FM Radio app and we had updates on the storm’s progress all night long. In fact, I also used the phone’s FM radio and all day the next day — and there was still battery power to spare and the end. That’s because FM radio uses considerably less power than just about any smartphone function (and it uses no data at all!).
My iPhone doesn’t expose its FM radio capability, and it was useless as a source of updates until the cellular connectivity improved the next day, well after the storm had passed. I can’t say for certain, but I’ll just blame Apple designer Jony Ive, who’s never met a much-loved traditional feature that he didn’t like to remove. I get the feeling that FM radio is too distastefully old school to include as an iPhone capability, even though it’s already there.
While I experienced the usefulness of FM radio in smartphones during an emergency firsthand for the first time during Irma, it’s been clear to broadcasters and public safety officials — FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) included (see the video above) — that there are great benefits to unleashing this capability. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has been lobbying to require the FM radio capability to be enabled in smartphones, and even Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been advocating for this (but he won’t go beyond advocacy). At an NAB event in February, he said:
“It seems odd that every day we hear about a new smartphone app that lets you do something innovative, yet these modern-day mobile miracles don’t enable a key function offered by a 1982 Sony Walkman.”
The go-to place for the movement to make the FM radio capability that’s already in our phones, waiting to be unleashed, is FreeRadioOnMyPhone.org. It has the latest info on the movement to enable FM radio on smartphones, including:
How to get FM radio working on your Android phone
How to contact Apple to ask them to enable FM radio listening on their phones
How to contact the FCC and ask them to require FM radio be made available on phones
And finally, an article that needs to be pointed out because it’s dead wrong (and unsurprisingly, published by 2010-era Business Insider, from the time they were almost stealing content): Mandatory FM Radio: A Dumb Idea For Smart Phones, in which its clueless author says that it’s just a move to prop up the dying terrestrial radio industry.