Defiance

So I started watching Defiance. Here’s the IMDB intro:

In the year 2046, it’s a new Earth – with new rules. Over thirty years after various alien races arrived on Earth, the landscape is completely altered, terraformed nearly beyond recognition. To the town of Defiance, on what used to be St. Louis, comes the mysterious Nolan (Grant Bowler) and his charge, Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas). As they settle into town – overseen by the mayor, Amanda Rosewater (Julie Benz) and filled with residents like the powerful Rafe McCawley (Graham Greene), enterprising lounge owner Kenya (Mia Kirshner) and the ambitious, alien Tarrs (Tony Curran and Jaime Murray) – events begin to unfold that threaten the fragile peace this border town has fought for.

The enjoyable pilot was filled with lots of action, drama, a post-apocalyptic Earth, political intrigue and some mystery. There’s lots of similarities with the themes in the amazing Battlestar Galactica spin-off Caprica: immigrants, races and inequality. It’s adventurous science fiction with impressively rendered monsters and breathtaking views. And well, the story seems interesting!

As the rest of season 1 unravels for me, I hope it can keep me warm for season 2, which is to air in June 2014.

 

The Intelligent Machine

I love Android cause it moves fast and changes all the time.

It’s still experimental.

One feature I’m especially thrilled about is Google Now. I had no idea what Google Now was until it told me my ETA to drive home. It was a creepy experience, but it had me at hello. I already hinted at it in a previous post.

But I want to elaborate a bit here. I really dig this technology and I’ll explain you why. It’s the same excitement I have felt for Wolfram Alpha back in 2009.

For sure there are similarities with Apple’s Siri. It’s like a personal assistant, but the subtle difference with Google Now is that you don’t need to ask the questions. It will deliver you the answers you need before you even realize.

So yesterday Google Now once again grabbed my balls! It told me how many miles I have walked in January: 51 miles, which is 50 miles less than December. I was just impressed. It’s not difficult if you understand how it does this. Google periodically sends my device’s location data to its servers. That’s all there’s to it and where the magic ends.

There are many more things it does. For instance, it will show me the latest postings for the websites I have visited. Many Now Cards area already out there and Google continuously updates them.

But the thing is: it delivers me what I need. It is context sensitive.

Google Now is like an intelligent machine. Occassionally it asks me questions, like: do you have a regular place of work?. How do you usually get around? Am I interested in weather updates for my location? Do I want updates from websites I often visit? Am I interested in weather updates for work and home?

Yet asking me these polite questions, it doesn’t feel like I’m forced to answer them. And it’s just a yes or a no. That’s all.

Perhaps I must nuance my wordings and call it an intelligent friend. Google is not evil after all, right?

It learns as you do things, it’s highly personalized and can be customized extensively too.

One thing I’m missing is that currently it just tracks my data and that’s all. I want it to tell me what I should eat and do to live a healthy live.

Imagine that it could tell me that I should avoid a certain highway after work due to a big event that is starting nearby. Now that is what we need and that is how Google can keep me surprised until it will become a commodity.

Rapid and continuous software development

There’s something that I’m increasingly paying attention to these days.

And I’m seeing it everywhere: rapid software developments in short periods. It has been an ongoing trend, but now it is more clear than ever.

We are outsourcing a lot of our IT problems to third parties, perhaps in the cloud. This goes hand in hand with the upsurge of short-cycle improvement and development methods such as Lean and Agile.

The last 40 years has seen an increasing speed of application development. In the very beginning, the smallest unit of time for an IT development was one month. And for relatively small things it would even take up to a few months. Then when second-, third- and fourth generation development toolsets came along, productivity increased substantially. Through rapid development methods and tools pilots only take up 1 to 3 weeks. Remember that with traditional methods the prototyping itself would last up to 6 months.

In older technologies it was not that easy to make amendments to new or existing systems. But then Model driven Application Development came along and it said: change happens.  This is what code generation is all about. Compare that with traditional software development, which tried to get a complete functional specification of a system upfront. This turned out to be false. It is always in beta, as the phrase goes in the IT world. It means: constantly under development and never completely finished.

Software development and IT in a broader sense should pick up these ideas from industrial design. In a Ted Talk, Tom Chi, responsible for the Google Glass project, gave a fascinating glimpse into the way Google is working with rapid prototyping. The first prototype – a makeshift object – was developed in one (!!) day. “Doing is the best kind of thinking,” is what Chi told his audience.