Thursday, June 28, 2018

AI Is Making Hardware Sexy Again

Another hardware post, although this time a bit more general than a new supercomputer. Almost 20 years ago at an AI  conference in Austin, Texas, I remember a discussion revolving around how great it would be if we AI people had the processing power that game designers insisted on for their games to run. If gamers could insist that their computers had powerful game cards, why couldn't AI insist on dedicated AI cards? We never got the AI cards and so we learned to use GPU's to enable our algorithms to run in reasonable time. However, now things are changing and increasingly hardware is being tailored to AI's needs as this article in Forbes makes clear.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

A new supercomputer

MIT's Technology Report has introduced the world's most powerful supercomputer as "tailor-made for the AI era" Since 2013, Chinese machines have occupied the number one slot in rankings of the world's most powerful supercomputers. Now America is back on top again. The computer, called Summit, occupies an area the size of two tennis courts and carries 4,000 gallons of water a minute through its cooling system to carry away about 13 megawatts of heat. It performs at 200 petaflops — 200 million billion calculations a second!

Friday, June 15, 2018

iPad or Kindle Fire

iPad & Kindle Fire
I don't often do product reviews or comparisons but I recently bought a Kindle Fire HD 8. That will surprise people who know me as I'm a huge Apple fan. Between my wife and I, we have 9 Apple devices at home. However, I've also always been aware that the Kindle is an excellent e-book reader (my wife and father-in-law have them). The Kindle is light, has excellent battery life (weeks) and its e-ink screen is great in bright conditions. But, the Kindle Fire is different to previous Kindle's; it's not just an e-book reader, instead, it's a fully functional tablet, just like the iPad.
I decided to buy a Kindle Fire to compare it to my iPad partly because it's so cheap. The Kindle is $59.99 (USD) compared to an iPad for $329 (USD). In other words, the iPad is 5.5 times more expensive than the Kindle! In fact, you can buy a Kindle for less than the iPad's optional cover! So how does the Kindle compare? Well, the Kindle isn't as fast as the iPad, the touchscreen isn't quite as responsive and its backlight isn't quite as bright. The battery life is fine easily lasting a day of use.
Amazon has its own app store for the Kindle, but it doesn't stock all of the apps that the Apple app store or Google Play for Android devices stock. However, Amazon doesn't advertise this, but since the Kindle is running Android as its OS you can quite easily (5 mins) install Google Play on your Kindle (just Google it) and then you have access to all Android apps. This means you can install all the productivity apps and games you are familiar with.
Finally, although the Kindle has less built-in memory than the iPad, 32GB max vs. 128GB (add $100 to the iPad's price for this) you can easily upgrade the Kindle's storage by using a micro SD card ($38.20 for a 128GB card). In conclusion, the Kindle Fire is a perfectly usable tablet. If work was paying for my new tablet I'd insist on the iPad, but if I was paying myself I'd buy the Kindle Fire and spend the $269 I'd save on something else.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Tips to improve your online privacy

Since the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal a few months ago online privacy has become a popular topic. The New Zealand Herald recently published some very practical tips you can use to improve the privacy of some popular apps. Read about the tips here.