SiliconANGLE Extracting the signal from the noise. Wed, 04 May 2016 15:33:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Startup enlists humans to solve knotty big data problems Wed, 04 May 2016 15:25:25 +0000 When it comes to big data, machines can only do so much […]]]>

When it comes to big data, machines can only do so much. At least that’s what startup Spare5 Inc. is betting with the launch of what it calls an “Intelligent Crowdsourcing Platform” that leverages a community of specialists to process big data tasks that require a human touch.

Crowdsourcing services today run the gamut from the mundane (’s Mechanical Turk) to the highly specialized (CrowdMed). Spare5 sits somewhere in the middle, but its special sauce is a machine learning algorithm that rates the skills and preferences of crowd members.

The platform is useful for “pretty much anything that involves getting structured data out of unstructured data,” said Matt Bencke, founder and CEO. Examples including adding keywords and categories to photographs or looking up information online that isn’t easily found by keyword search.

The service uses a gaming metaphor to lighten the tasks and it breaks up jobs into small components that can be handled quickly on a smart phone. “It’s strictly data or questions you can complete wherever you are,” Bencke said.

Crowd members, whom Spare5 calls “Fives,” are paid a few cents for each task. Anyone can sign up to be a Five. As tasks are completed, Spare5’s machine learning engine assesses the skills and interests of participants and assigns them more specialized jobs.

“As each new answer comes, in we score whether they’re good or bad at a task,” Bencke said. “So they might be good at copy editing but not at sports. We line them up with tasks that are right for them.” The company has recruited more than 40,000 Fives.

Customer Avvo Inc. has been using the service to assess and categorize a library of more than 40,000 legal guides that it maintains on its website. Avvo is itself a form of crowdsourcing. It matches consumers’ legal questions with qualified lawyers who provide answers for a fixed fee. The site attracts about 8 million unique visitors per month.

The legal guides are an essential part of Avvo’s value proposition because they help people with legal questions find the site and drive repeat visits. “Quality is a huge factor, and we want to be able to provide the best information at scale,” said David Holmberg, an Avvo product manager. The company was unable to develop algorithms that could reliably assess quality, so it turned to Spare5 to find people with enough legal knowledge to compare and rate the documents.

“Typical crowdsourcing isn’t designed for that level of sophistication,” Holmberg said. “It’s designed for high-volume and simple tasks.”

Spare5 now processes about 1,000 documents for Avvo each day. Based on audit results, Avvo figures Spare5 achieves about a 94 percent accuracy rate in correctly assessing the quality of legal guides, Holmberg said. “We looked at a number of different crowdsourcing services, but the level of sophistication Spare5 was able to offer at scale was so much better,” he said. He declined to reveal how much Avvo pays for the service, but the company’s director of legal marketing said Avvo expects a 60 percent increase in onboarding of new customers this year as a result.

Spare5 has raised a little over $13 million since its founding in 2004.

CC image via Wikimedia Commons
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Yet another skills gap: This time it’s containers Wed, 04 May 2016 14:43:18 +0000 Containers are growing in popularity all the time, but […]]]>

Containers are growing in popularity all the time, but for companies that use them it’s still a significant challenge to hire workers capable of managing them.

Those revelations come from continuous app delivery firm Shippable Inc., which released its findings from a new survey of 300 software developers in order to gauge the latest trends and challenges around containers. The survey shows that more than a third of developers have utilized container solutions to accelerate app release cycles, but many more struggle to find people with the skills needed to properly utilize the technology.

A lack of suitably skilled employees was also cited as the main reason why many companies still don’t use containers, the study found. Other smaller factors in the way of container adoption include the technology’s immaturity, concerns over security, and a lack of ROI.

“Our research and personal experience shows that companies can experience exponential gains in software development productivity through the use of container technology and related tools,” said Avi Cavale, CEO at Shippable, in a statement. “That said, there are still hurdles to overcome. Companies can help themselves by training internal software teams and partnering with vendors and service providers that have worked with container technology extensively.”

The study also found that most container users do so in tandem with the largest cloud providers. Some 54 percent of respondents said they use Google’s Container Registry service, while 45 percent use Amazon Web Services’ EC2 Container Registry. As to which kinds of cloud developers prefer, the survey shows an almost even split between public cloud infrastructure (31 percent of respondents) and private cloud (30 percent).

Other notable findings from the study include:

  • 52 percent of developers run their containerized applications on Google Compute Engine
  • 58 percent of developers use GitHub with containers

Despite the significant skills gap regarding containers, Shippable says there’s hope this problem will soon be alleviated. The study shows that 89 percent of respondents were either “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to increase their container usage in the next year. Shippable says that channel partners can help reduce the skills gap by offering more training opportunities for container solutions. Alternatively, companies can look to specialist container companies like Docker Inc. in order to increase awareness about the potential of container technologies.

Image credit: PatrickBaum via pixabay
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Have GIFs at your fingertips with GIPHY Keys for iOS Wed, 04 May 2016 12:23:02 +0000 When words just won’t do, GIPHY Inc. has always been th […]]]>

When words just won’t do, GIPHY Inc. has always been the go-to place when you need the perfect GIF to send to a friend. The animated GIF search engine, who raised $55 million Series C in February, has now made it even easier to get your hands on GIFs with the introduction of GIPHY Keys, a GIF keyboard for iOS users.

We look at how you can now find the best GIFs and create your own directly from your keyboard in any app.

Download GIPHY Keys and install the keyboard

Download GIPHY Keys for iOS from the App Store. The app requires iOS 8.0 or later.

Once it has been installed on your device you will need to install it as a keyboard on your iPhone. Go to the Settings app > General > Keyboards > Add New Keyboard > tap on GIPHY Keys.

How to find the best GIFs

No matter what app you are in, simply tap the little globe icon in the bottom left of your keyboard, which will bring up the GIPHY Keys interface and you can start searching for the perfect GIF.

Send trending GIFs

When you first open the GIPHY Keys interface you will see a real-time feed of trending GIFs. Scroll through the GIFs and find the most relevant one for your response.

GIPHY keys - trending

Find specific GIFs

Looking for a specific gift, simply start typing, scroll through the suggested GIFs and find the one you love.

Search the categories for different GIFs

GIPHY Keys has a curated list of GIFs under various categories that will allow you to find the most appropriate GIF. Tap the upside-down smiley face icon, search through the categories (thumbs down, applause, popcorn, etc.) and choose your GIF.

GIPHY keys - categories

Save your favorite GIFs for easy access

If you come across GIFs you love or ones you use regularly you can add them to your favorites for easy access. Simply tap the heart icon > Save to Favorites. Or simply double tap the GIF you love and it will automatically be added to your favorites.

Create your own GIFs using hashtag commands

Tap the magic 8 ball icon > tap #echo > type in your message and your words will be transformed into a GIF.

Under the magic 8 ball icon, you will also find #sticker, which will allow you to discover random animated stickers, and #text will allow you to find the perfect text GIF of the word you just typed in. Others include #8ball that will give you the answers to your life questions, while if you tap #weather, input your zip code it will find the weather for you.

GIPHY keys - hashtag


How to send GIFs to friends and family

When you have found the best GIF using one of the methods above, simply tap the GIF and it will copy automatically. Tap in your chat to paste the GIF > tap Send.

If you tap and hold the GIF you will be given more options, like posting the GIF link to Twitter or Facebook.

Image via: Apple App Store
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Could a government spy on your Facebook Messenger chats? Wed, 04 May 2016 09:59:19 +0000 You have to be very careful what you say on Facebook in […]]]>

You have to be very careful what you say on Facebook in Thailand, lest you write something the Thai government deems trangressive and end up serving a 60 year jail sentence. Even liking or sharing a post in Thailand can land you in jail for a very, very long time, and bad language, if it pertains to the country’s military-backed draft constitution, could result in a 10 year jail sentence.

These are just a few examples of what Thailand’s military government considers a threat to national security, either concerning the country’s strict lese majeste laws, or criticizing the government. But lately what’s been called a ‘climate of fear’ in the country has been intensified when one person was arrested for content the government seemingly seized that was private correspondence in Facebook Messenger.

Two people last week were charged with sedition and insulting the monarchy in Thailand, but the evidence the government has used against them comes from a private chat on Facebook. This has led to Thailand’s netizens wondering how safe their Messenger chats are from government spies.

Why spy?

An easy explanation would be that following an arrest, officials would be able to go through messages on a telephone, although one of the persons arrested reportedly later said that police had neither taken his phone nor demanded his Facebook password. Police did, however, have screenshots of the messages he had sent to a friend that led to his arrest.

The man arrested was quoted in Thailand’s Bangkok Post as saying, “It doesn’t matter what the message is – even an invitation for a drink – they can access it. I’d like someone to ask Facebook Thailand about this and I repeat again inbox chat is no longer private.”

It’s also been said that the government simply hacked the said Facebook accounts. In 2015 Hacking Team, an Italian company which provides surveillance tools to governments, was hacked itself and Thailand was on the list of buyers.

Another scenario is that Facebook was somehow complicit in giving over the content, although this is highly unlikely given Facebook’s tight privacy policy and the fact many anti-government pages are still online. The Thai government has lately tried to persuade Facebook and other well-known chat apps to censor content.

At the moment no one really knows how the government got hold of those private messages, but Thailand’s social media users have been provoked into thinking that nothing is safe from the eyes of the zealous military junta. Section 112 of Thailand’s Criminal Code states that insults to the monarchy don’t have to be made in a public space, but can also be private.

Photo credit: Dennis Skley via Flickr
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Google signs deal with Fiat Chrysler for 100 Pacifica based self-driving cars Wed, 04 May 2016 06:04:41 +0000 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Google, Inc. have sign […]]]>

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Google, Inc. have signed a deal that will see both companies working together to develop self-driving vehicles.

Under the deal, Fiat Chrysler will build 100 2017 Pacifica plug-in hybrid minivans that are tailored to suit Google’s self-driving technology, with the vehicles to then join Google’s fleet of self-driving test vehicles, which currently includes the Lexus RX450H, Toyota Prius, and Google’s own “Google Car” prototype.

According to Bloomberg the deal isn’t exclusive and Google “would remain free to cooperate in driverless technology with other partners.”

“This collaboration with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is the first time we’ve worked directly with an automaker to create our vehicles,” the Google Self-Driving Car team said in a post on Google+. “FCA will design the minivans so it’s easy for us to install our self-driving systems, including the computers that hold our self-driving software, and the sensors that enable our software to see what’s on the road around the vehicle.”

“The minivan design also gives us an opportunity to test a larger vehicle that could be easier for passengers to enter and exit, particularly with features like hands-free sliding doors,” the writer of the post added.

The new self-driving Pacifica vans will initially be tested by Google on its private test track in California before making their way to public roads in current testing locations including Mountain View, California; Austin, Texas; Kirkland, Washington; and Phoenix Arizona.

Big car testing

Along with nearly doubling Google’s self-driving car fleet, the new Pacifica’s will allow the company to test how self-driving technology works with larger vehicles; in theory there should be very little difference, but likewise, the programming will need to take into account the height and weight difference of the bigger vehicle, particularly when it comes to things such as acceleration and stopping time.

The selection of the Pacifica, an 8 seat “people mover” could also point to a driverless future where people are picked up and dropped off by fully autonomous vehicles; the concept of Google as a transport or taxi company may be the stuff of science fiction now, but so were self-driving cars a little over a decade ago.

It’s not clear from reports when the new vehicles will be delivered.

Image credit: Google.
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How software-defined storage is transforming data centers | #emcworld Wed, 04 May 2016 02:14:48 +0000 For all of the businesses finding new ways of using clo […]]]>

For all of the businesses finding new ways of using cloud technologies and services, whether public, private or hybrid, someone has to put that infrastructure into place. And companies that can handle all three forms are quickly gaining an edge in the market.

At EMC World 2016, Navin Sharma, lead product manager of ScaleIO at EMC, joined John Walls and Stu Miniman, cohosts of theCUBE, from the SiliconANGLE Media team, to discuss a few of the ways in which ScaleIO differentiates itself from similar services, what customers want and how providers are reacting.

Flexibility is key

Sharma laid out some of the advantages of ScaleIO right from the start, explaining, “ScaleIO was born as a software-only technology, so what this gives us is tremendous flexibility in terms of the hardware consumption model.”

He quickly moved on to how customers receive this flexibility, but noted that adoption was often governed more by the internal politics of a company than strict benefit evaluation, saying, “What we see with our customers is that roughly half of them go to a storage two-layer mode, and the other half stay with hyperconverged. … It’s really got to do more with internal processes and operations than the technology itself.”

From small start to giant operations

While the struggle to get in the door is one thing, ScaleIO has little trouble proving its value once that entrance is made. Sharma touched on how customer needs are specifically addressed by the service. “What we hear about is … when you have compute and storage in the same block, as you’re scaling up, you may have applications that have more compute than storage, and vice versa, so that definitely plays a role. But one of the great things about ScaleIO is we can actually kind of circumvent that, because there’s nothing keeping customers from mixing modes. … You can actually add in just the storage portion without the compute, and that works totally fine.”

He expanded on this by outlining how ScaleIO could be picked up by enterprises at a low quantity for their initial needs and easily expanded as the company grew its needs. “You can just add another node if you ever need more capacity or more performance, and architecturally, inherently, it’s not dependent on any kind of hardware control anywhere in the data path. … If you really want a true private cloud, where you want to be like the Amazons of the world, the Googles of the world, you start with three nodes and you keep adding nodes and you keep the agility.”

The flexibility and options provided with this framework were core to the ScaleIO experience, Sharma felt. “At the end of the day, it’s really about customer choice, and we see that as something we’re going to carry on as long as ScaleIO’s around.”

Watch the full interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE and theCUBE’s coverage of EMC World 2016.

Photo by SiliconANGLE
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EMC, Dell bring compute and storage closer together | #emcworld Wed, 04 May 2016 02:01:25 +0000 The recent news that Dell will acquire EMC has major im […]]]>

The recent news that Dell will acquire EMC has major implications not only for the two industry leaders, but for the storage industry overall.

Alan Atkinson, VP and GM of Dell Storage, whose company has a longstanding relationship with EMC, sees the acquisition as another sign that compute and storage are coming together.

“When you think about bringing Dell’s server franchise together with the combined storage portfolio of Dell and EMC, it’s really a formidable combination,” Atkinson told Brian Gracely and Stu Miniman, cohosts of theCUBE, from the SiliconANGLE Media team, during EMC World 2016. “Not many, if any, companies have EMC’s set of tools.”

The melding of compute and storage is one of the most important trends taking place today, Atkinson said.

“If you look at how cloud and managed services providers are architecting, as well as software-defined storage companies and others, it all comes down to compute and storage coming closer together,” he said. “It’s a different way of thinking about the problem. There is a need to get closer to compute because latency is becoming more of an issue. And as we move more to solid state and flash, it becomes more important that we get closer to compute.”

The interrelationship of compute and storage, and Dell and EMC, will no doubt mean greater value for enterprise customers. “There is an ease of use, time to value part of the equation that’s louder than it’s ever been,” Atkinson said. “This is a natural synergy.”

Watch the full interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE and theCUBE’s coverage of EMC World 2016.

Photo by SiliconANGLE
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Providing data storage at scale to feed the hunger of the Internet of Things | #emcworld Wed, 04 May 2016 01:32:37 +0000 It’s one thing to store some data. It’s another to stor […]]]>

It’s one thing to store some data. It’s another to store a lot of data. Then, there’s storing so much data people invented new words for it. As the digital revolution rides through the business world, more data than ever is being collected and processed. The Internet of Things (IoT) represents the potential, and the nightmare infrastructure requirements, of this new world.

To gain some insight on large-scale data storage, Dave Vellante, cohost of theCUBE, from the SiliconANGLE Media team, joined Phil Bullinger, SVP of the Isilon Product Line at EMC, during the EMC World 2016 conference in Las Vegas.

A growing business

The conversation opened with a look at Isilon as a company and with EMC. There’s a growing momentum in the business, Bullinger said. While the company grew on its own, the acquisition accelerated that growth. EMC pulled the product into a lot of different use cases and markets. “The average capacity of one of our clusters is close to a petabyte. There’s no other file system on the planet that can match it,” Bullinger said.

“Our value proposition is a single file system that can span a vast amount of data, yet is simple to manage and upgrade,” he added. The explosive growth of data being produced and collected makes this more important than ever.

Use cases for a data lake

It’s hard to put Isilon in a single box, Bullinger said. The business is split between customers buying for performance on workload-dominated tasks and those who buy it for capacity. Performance is always a concern, but it’s raw capacity that earns their business. Isilon really drove the phrase “data lake,” according to Bullinger. By pulling storage together, a company gains in efficiency and saves money.

IoT is an enormous opportunity, he added, and companies are discovering how to gain value from unstructured data at large scale. With the growth of IoT, Bullinger said he didn’t see an end to it.

Be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE and theCUBE’s coverage of EMC World 2016.

Photo by SiliconANGLE
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The state of IT: EMC’s efforts at optimization | #emcworld Wed, 04 May 2016 01:18:57 +0000 EMC is using surveys and workshops to help businesses t […]]]>

EMC is using surveys and workshops to help businesses thrive at what they are already doing. How it works: EMC is analyzing data from its customers to facilitate an “IT transformation” in conjunction with the surveys, explained Barb Robidoux, VP of marketing at EMC Global Services. These surveys are a joint venture with companies like VMware, Inc., and they consist of half-day reports that aid in diagnosing issues and looking for opportunities for improvement.

In addition to the surveys, EMC is offering workload workshops that focus on various aspects of IT optimization. Robidoux talked with John Furrier and Dave Vellante, cohosts of theCUBE, from SiliconANGLE Media team, at EMC World 2016 in Las Vegas. “Cloud isn’t a new concept” but “people are still kicking the tires,” observed Robidoux.

With enterprise customers utilizing “legacy” software, EMC looks at four areas: infrastructure, operations, application (both legacy and new) and overarching strategy.

When it comes customer expectations, Robidoux gave the following example: customers want cloud but have questions about which application is better suited for hybrid cloud. The workshops provide numerous solutions.

Robidoux summarized the workshops as efforts to “plot out here’s where you are … say where you want to be [and] scale out” goals from there in a practical way.

Watch the full interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE and theCUBE’s coverage of EMC World 2016.

Photo by SiliconANGLE
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A journey of storage; discovering the power of all-flash data systems | #emcworld Wed, 04 May 2016 00:59:44 +0000 The age of spinning disk storage solutions is drawing t […]]]>

The age of spinning disk storage solutions is drawing to a close. Solid-state flash arrays are taking over the data center, and with good reason. Flash can run faster, with a much smaller footprint than traditional storage solutions. Until recently, cost was a factor, but the price of flash goes down almost daily. Now, it’s almost the only option that makes sense.

To gain an understanding of one company’s journey into the world of flash, John Furrier and Dave Vellante, cohosts of theCUBE, from the SiliconANGLE Media team, talked with Octavian Rotaru, technology manager of technical architecture at Amdocs, Inc., during the EMC World 2016 conference in Las Vegas.

Going through the process

The discussion opened with a simple question: What’s working? Rotaru replied that there is no silver bullet — businesses still have to adjust their implementation to the requirements of each customer. Usually, they receive a set of requirements they must meet. They translate those requirements into a technical architecture that goes down to storage, network and everything else.

Each time they have to rightsize, Rotaru said. If they go too low, the system won’t deliver; but go too high, and the customer will wonder why they’re buying way more than they need.

Talking flash

Rotaru said he sees all-flash as a technology enabler for his workload. They’re looking at all-flash as a way to meet customer needs, while at the same time achieving efficiency through a reduced data footprint.

The team works on different projects and also provides architectures for existing customers. They started with all-flash in-house, but after discovering its benefits, they began rolling it out to customers who own their own infrastructure. Customers, are asking for it, and they want to go forward with all-flash, according to Rotaru. 

Watch the full interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE and theCUBE’s coverage of EMC World 2016.

Photo by SiliconANGLE
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