Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Harvard and M.I.T. Joined to Offer Free Online Courses: EdX

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced a new nonprofit partnership, known as EDX, to offer free online courses from both universities.
EdX, will develop an open-source technology platform to deliver online courses. EdX will support Harvard and MIT faculty in conducting research on teaching and learning on campus through tools that enrich classroom and laboratory experiences. At the same time, edX also will reach learners around the world through online course materials. The edX website will begin by hosting MITx and Harvardx content, with the goal of adding content from other universities interested in joining the platform.
Its first course, Circuits and Electronics, began in March, enrolling about 120,000 students, some 10,000 of whom made it through the recent midterm exam. Those who complete the course will get a certificate of mastery and a grade, but no official credit. Similarly, edX courses will offer a certificate but will carry no credit.
Education has not limits in this flat world for those who want to learn. Well done guys!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

This summer Le Web Paris is moving to London!

There’s an old saying in London. You wait an hour for a bus and then three come along at once. Thus, for the last few years people have been asking when London would get a large technology conference which catered for startups. Well, I want to tell you that London is being spoiled by the event: Le Web, the huge annual conference in Paris in December, is adding a Summer edition conference in London. If you’re looking for a ‘third bus’ to complete the analogue, then you can also check out Digital London, a slightly more corporate event but one which looks like it has some interesting tracks on the future of cities, innovation and entrepreneurship.
Due to be held on June 19th and 20th, I’ve heard that Le Web London is partly the result of heavy lobbying by the U.K. government and the U.K. Trade and Industry department’s Tech City team to get them there.
The venue will be Central Hall Westminster, so super central London. No confirmed speakers as yet but we’re sure Loic and Geraldine Le Meur will pull off a great show with great speakers, as their contact book in Silicon Valley is hard to beat.
Registration is now open, including a 50 percent discount on the ticket price for the next two weeks and a special discount package for Le Web London and Le Web Paris. So, it could be a good plan for me for this year! Nonetheless, my question is: When Le Web will come to Madrid?


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Redesigning the Windows Logo


In a move that demonstrates how cleanly Microsoft intends to cut itself off from the last 20 years of its most widely-used and widely-recognized products, they have given the Windows logo its most significant redesign in 20 years. Ever since Windows 3.1, the slightly curved, red-green-blue-yellow panes have greeted millions on startup, or at least peeked out from the corner of the screen.
No longer: Microsoft has abandoned the shape, color scheme, and even the start button. The new logo is monochromatic (or rather, polymonochromatic), straight, and unfamiliar. If they intended to show just how much they’ve changed the philosophy of the OS, this is a good way to do it.The change has been explained on the Windows Blog, so is official.
Any change like this generates dissent, while there are plenty who will find it magnificently clean, understated, and very in keeping with the Metro visual language. It’s here to stay, and a year from now when we’ve had it at our elbows and seen it on a hundred new devices.  
Hopefully, all these changes in this redesigned Windows 8, will not give us back the familiar monochromatic Blue Screen of Death. Just for fun, I think you will like this simile:

Saturday, January 21, 2012

iPhone 4S and iPad 2 Finally Get Proper, Untethered Jailbreaks!


While the once long list of legitimate reasons to jailbreak your iPhone has taken a hit with each new iOS release, that burning desire to “Free your device”
Three months after the release of the iPhone 4S and 10 months after the release of the iPad 2, the ridiculously talented iOS community has finally cracked the ultimate challenge for both devices: the untethered jailbreak.
  I know these things can get a bit jargony, so a quick recap: to “jailbreak” means to modify a device to run any code and applications , thereby allowing you to do things with your device far outside of what would normally be possible. “Untethered” means that once it’s jailbroken, it stays jailbroken (whereas a “tethered” jailbreak means the device resets to its normal, un-jailbroken state whenever it is reset)
The team behind this, Chronic Dev, is the same group that makes the greenpois0n tool that’s been jailbreaking iOS devices for years. Remember comex, the iOS hacker who went legit with an internship at Apple? He was a key member of this group.
While their server seems to be taking a bit of a pounding right now, you can find the new iPhone 4s/iPad 2 jailbreaking tool (dubbed “Greenpos0n Absinthe”) right over here.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Facebook, G+, Twitter... Keep your eyes on the ball!


Let’s talk about Social Networks platforms. What is that? Well, nowadays everybody knows what is Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, web sites focuses on building and reflecting of social networks or social relations among people, who, for example, share interests and activities. If you use them, you probably spend a lot of time on the net sharing photos of your last trip, updating your status, commenting your friend’s posts and sharing silly things. It’s really cool, it’s great when your friends like your post, it’s great when you know about that friend you met five years ago in that amazing holidays, it’s great when you know about that friend from your childhood who now lives far away of you. Having that tool in which you can send mails, chat and keep in touch with your friends is awesome. But…, are you aware of who is seeing all your things?
In recent years Social Networking services have met controversies. Privacy concerns have been raised growing concerns amongst users on the dangers of giving out too much personal information and some governments and authorities began to discuss the regulation of those networks. How many people know and use privacy options in facebook? How many people have theirs wall public? For example, in July 2011, in Hamburg, around 1600 “guests” not originally invited attended the 16th birthday party for a girl who accidentally posted the invitation of the event as public. After reports of overcrowding, more than a hundred police were deployed for crowd control. It's crazy, isn’t it?

We all know that facebook has it’s failures in privacy, but they are introducing improvements year by year  As an example, on November, 2011, the Federal Trade Commission in Washington announced a broad settlement that requires the company to respect the privacy wishes of its users and subjects it to regular privacy audits for the next 20 years. However, are all sins theirs? My opinion is that the most of the privacy issues for which Social Networks platforms are been criticized as the example mentioned above, are due to the lack of responsibility of the people who use this platforms. How many people have never clicked the Privacy Settings button on facebook? How many people have different groups of friends with different privacy levels? Do you know that you can control with a high level of accuracy who can see your post, your photos and your personal information? You only need to spend 15 minutes, of those thousands of hours you spend hooked to the net, and set your privacy configuration up.

Perhaps, it could not be very intuitive, and that is the part in which developers and designers need to add new inputs as is doing Google+ obligating you to add in circles your new friends. However, you need to be more intelligent and manage better your privacy so that you could share whatever you want to the right people. Use Social Networks platforms; they are one of the best inventions in this century, but keep your eyes on the ball, the ball is in your court.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Le Web Paris 2011 a start point for the new Europe.

Paris, December 9th 2011. Today the conference Le Web Paris II (http://leweb.net/) has finished. It was one of the most important Information Technology events in the last time in Europe. Paradoxically and in parallel Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy were trying to save the Euro and Europe in Brussels from the worst financial crisis in it’s recently history.
Well, at least these computers geeks know what’s cooking and what will be the next technology wave. All the interesting applications are going to be some combination of Social, Mobile and Local. Social, because we spend our time in a social world. Mobile because mobile first is the answer to almost every question now. And local, because we live in a local context.
The next big thing will be the model “App Internet”, in which, powerful local devices (PCs, smart phones, tablets) run applications that simultaneously take advantage of resources in the Web/Cloud as do iPhone and Android applications, and the old models “Microsoft model” and “Web/Cloud Model” are not appropriate anymore. The “Microsoft Model” where local personal computers do most of the work. The second model is the Web/Cloud model, in which most of the work happens on remote servers.  … The Microsoft Model fails to leverage the economies of scale in the Cloud; Web/Cloud fail to leverage the exponential growth in the power of local storage and processors.
Google will need to address the challenge that the information in the App Internet is not easily searchable, Microsoft will remain focused on the device-centric Office strategy and Apple will continue its cruise. While some players in the Software-as-a-Service market might get “slaughtered”, Newcomers such as Flipboard will boom.
Beyond the conclusions of this event, it is good to know that there are some people who are not waiting for the politicians to solve their lives and get us out of the crisis. Perhaps, entrepreneur’s mentality, investments in research, development and science could be the solution. The competition is needed and it is good. It will help us to change and improve this world.  Microsoft vs Apple, iOS vs Android, Silicon Valley vs China. Ups... Where is Europe in the tech world leading by the USA and Asia? This conference in Paris could be a good beginning. By the way, “entrepreneurs” is a word of French origin, so this conference could be the start point to set up the new Europe wanted by Merkel and Sarkozy. Is Europe ready for this wave?
Eric Schmidt's interview at Le Web Paris 2011

iPhone: The power in your pocket!


Everything changed when people started writing their own apps for the iPhone. Suddenly its talents as a phone — which, at least at the outset, weren’t particularly impressive — paled in comparison to its abilities as a computer.
These days, this business of phone-as-brain goes way beyond stand-alone apps. Nowadays, the iPhone handles the computing, connection and display tasks for a huge range of hardware from other companies. Why should they jack up their products’ prices by selling you a screen, memory, processor, microphone, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when you’ve already got all of that in your pocket?
There are blood pressure monitors (iHealth), bathroom scales (Withings), physical activity monitors (Jawbone), sleep monitors (Zeo), credit card readers (Square), security cameras (iZon), remote-control helicopters (Parrot) and, of course, about 73,001 speaker systems. All of them rely on the iPhone as a brain. It’s awesome, isn’t it?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Siri!… now is when we can call them: Smartphones!

Why we have called them Smartphones? The term smartphone is usually used to describe phones with more advanced computing ability and connectivity than a contemporary feature phone. But why were called smartphone? Until now, those cell phones were a high-end device that combined the functions of a personal digital assistant (PDA) and a mobile phone. Just a device that was able to follow orders, a device that received some inputs, processed them thanks to the internal CPU and displayed the results. But, where were the intelligence, the capacity to acquire and apply knowledge?
Last month when the new iPhone 4S was released I heard for the first time the term “Siri”. What is Siri?  Well, Siri project was started by SRI ( Stanford Research Institute) International in July 2003  when DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) selected SRI to lead the Personalized Assistant that Learns (PAL) Program. PAL program focused on improving the way that computers support humans through the use of cognitive systems, that is, systems that reason, learn from experience, and accept guidance in order to provide effective, personalized assistance. It was awarded $22M and given over five years to develop software, dubbed CALO, that could revolutionize how computers support military and other decision-makers. It is considered to be the largest artificial intelligence project in history. By 2007 some of the people involved in the CALO project, wanted to bring some of SRI’s research to consumers. In December 2007 Siri, Inc. was formed with the sole intention of doing just that. Siri Inc. went after funding and by April 2010 Apple was eyeing an acquisition of the company. The deal went through on April 28 and Apple took control of the company, and that’s that: a short history of Siri and how it ended up inside the iPhone 4S.
One of the coolest things about Siri is just how much it actually understands. Simply hold down the home button, say something and Siri will respond. The voice recognition isn’t perfect and it does occasionally make mistakes, so If you think your days of texting or thumbing-out emails on your iPhone are over, it’s not the reality, Siri it’s not brilliant, but is the first step for the new smartphones generation. The reals smartphones!

Well done Mr Jobs, the mouse, the friendly computer user interface, the iPod, and now smartphones… What else?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Flat world, entropy and self-organization

If somebody would have told to Christopher Columbus that in the 21st century he could have a breakfast in Beijing, have lunch in Moscow, drink a tea in London at 5 o’clock and have the dinner in New York City, he probably would have not believed it. But these days it is possible. Geography is no longer a destiny.

The world in which we live everyday is getting smaller. The distance and the time are relative. Everybody in the world can watch a soccer game that it’s happening in
Madrid, in a real time. You can eat fresh fruits all seasons. You can know what your friends are doing and thinking just refreshing your facebook page. Whatever happens thousands of miles away can impact in you. Some years ago I read something about the Chaos Theory, and I read that a butterfly’s winds in Africa might create tiny changes in the atmosphere that may create a hurricane in America. Taking it to a real example, a protest in the streets in Egypt may result in the fall of the worldwide stoke market. Every day have less sense the borders between countries, unique cultures, languages… Nowadays the big cities have become more cosmopolitan, you can go for a dinner in Paris, eat an Italian pizza, drink a Japanese beer and then go to a pub, dance a Cuban salsa and finally go back home in a taxi driven by an Indian man. Moreover, when the Internet came to us, the world began to talk in the language of the bits and the bytes. Using the words of Thomas Friedman: The world is flat.

We ought to be an open mind people and learn to understand new cultures and new sensations. And also we should know how to transmit our culture to others. Globalization could be a test of the Chaos Theory, in which the matter suffer a phenomenon named the self-organization and the entropy is a measure of the amount of order and disorder in a system. What would happen if we measure the level of entropy at this time, and compare it with a measure that we could have in 50 years?
What would result?
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