Turbo Todd

Ruminations on IT, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Boxing’s Technology Rope-a-Dope

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The much-hyped Mayweather-Pacquio fight on Saturday night seems to have stirred much more action in the technology arena than it did in the actual boxing ring.

I hadn’t seen a boxing match on TV in years, maybe even a decade or more, so when I was visiting with friends on Saturday night after our post-Kentucky Derby conclave, several of us decided to fork over the $100 to watch the fight.

If only it had been that simple. My friend had AT&T U-Verse, and in the On Demand programming guide, you would have thought that the Mayweather-Pacquio bout would be the first thing to appear, screaming in large fonts GIVE ME YOUR $100 now.

At first, we tried calling at the AT&T help line, but that was like waiting in line at the MGM Grand to get into the actual fight! Finally our network engineer guru friend to dig deep into the bowels of the AT&T menu and found where we could buy the fight.

I jokingly wrote on my Facebook wall this prediction: Mayweather/Pacquio knock out the U.S. cable infrastructure by the fifth round.

Apparently I wasn’t too far from the truth, as many Pay Per View systems were overwhelmed with the number of eleventh hour subscribers, much like my friends and I.

But then there were the folks who got crafty, and instead of paying for the fight, followed those who did who were using streaming apps like Meerkat and Periscope to hold up their smartphones to their TV sets to conduct their own little secondary broadcast to the world.

No small irony considering HBO had actually used Twitter’s Periscope to do some pre-broadcast broadcasts from inside Manny Pacquio’s dressing room. Apparently even that wasn’t enough to extend Pacquio’s four-inch reach deficit against Mayweather.

Variety provides the full rundown on this kerfuffle.

But this could be just the beginning of a much longer heavyweight matchup on the attempt to stifle real-time piracy, even as the cable Interwebs weren’t fully able to handle the demand for those who willing to pay to see what ultimately proved to be a pretty boring boxing match.

Written by TurboTodd

May 4th, 2015 at 2:56 pm

Cloud At The Ballet

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Russia’s Mariinsky Theatre has selected IBM to build a hybrid cloud solution that enables it to provide global theater enthusiasts with access to live streaming video performances on the web, tablets or other mobile devices.

Debuting classic ballet standards such as Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker, the preeminent Mariinsky Theatre has been entertaining audiences of all ages from across 150 countries with some of the world’s best opera, ballet and symphony performances since it opened in 1860. More than 250,000 unique viewers around the world have visited Mariinsky.tv, which features an archive of on-demand videos.

“To support a growing global community of loyal Theatre audiences, we needed a scalable, hybrid cloud solution that could meet the standards for quality that we and our viewers expect,” said Eugene Barbashin, head of the computer technology department, Mariinsky Theatre. “We tried various competitive offerings from Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, but viewers still had buffering issues while streaming performances. We chose IBM Cloud to more fully meet our needs in terms of reliable performance and ease-of-use.”

Before working with IBM, the Theatre had been broadcasting performances online using its own on-premises technology. Operas and ballets were filmed, edited and streamed from the Theatre’s server to hundreds of viewers.

To help grow its online audience, the Mariinsky Theatre sought a new and more reliable solution to deliver consistent viewing experiences while gaining the flexibility to accommodate peaks in demand – which could mean scaling to support thousands of simultaneous viewers.

With IBM Cloud, the Mariinsky Theatre can accommodate expanded workloads. Based on the powerful and secure SoftLayer infrastructure from IBM, the Theatre has more flexibility to stream video replays and has been able to limit performance lags like excessive buffering by 30 percent.

It can also more easily manage shifts in viewers – especially around popular performances such as orchestra concerts with Maestro Valery Gergiev, piano recitals by famous global artists, and the “Young Choreographers Gala” during the Mariinsky Ballet Festival.

For clients like the Mariinsky Theatre, digital transformation requires a hybrid cloud solution, which combines public and private cloud elements with the flexibility to choose and change environments, data and services as needed. Clients are able to create applications and services, while maintaining operational visibility, control and security.

You can learn more about IBM Cloud solutions here.

Written by TurboTodd

May 1st, 2015 at 4:15 pm

IBM Scientists Achieve Critical Steps to Building First Practical Quantum Computer

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IBM scientists today unveiled two critical advances towards the realization of a practical quantum computer.

For the first time, they showed the ability to detect and measure both kinds of quantum errors simultaneously, as well as demonstrated a new, square quantum bit circuit design that is the only physical architecture that could successfully scale to larger dimensions.

With Moore’s Law expected to run out of steam, quantum computing will be among the inventions that could usher in a new era of innovation across industries.

Quantum computers promise to open up new capabilities in the fields of optimization and simulation simply not possible using today’s computers. If a quantum computer could be built with just 50 quantum bits (qubits), no combination of today’s TOP500 supercomputers could successfully outperform it.

The IBM breakthroughs, described in the April 29 issue of the journal Nature Communications, show for the first time the ability to detect and measure the two types of quantum errors (bit-flip and phase-flip) that will occur in any real quantum computer.

Until now, it was only possible to address one type of quantum error or the other, but never both at the same time. This is a necessary step toward quantum error correction, which is a critical requirement for building a practical and reliable large-scale quantum computer.

IBM’s novel and complex quantum bit circuit, based on a square lattice of four superconducting qubits on a chip roughly one-quarter-inch square, enables both types of quantum errors to be detected at the same time.

By opting for a square-shaped design versus a linear array – which prevents the detection of both kinds of quantum errors simultaneously – IBM’s design shows the best potential to scale by adding more qubits to arrive at a working quantum system.

For instance, in physics and chemistry, quantum computing could allow scientists to design new materials and drug compounds without expensive trial and error experiments in the lab, potentially speeding up the rate and pace of innovation across many industries.

For a world consumed by Big Data, quantum computers could quickly sort and curate ever larger databases as well as massive stores of diverse, unstructured data. This could transform how people make decisions and how researchers across industries make critical discoveries.

One of the great challenges for scientists seeking to harness the power of quantum computing is controlling or removing quantum decoherence – the creation of errors in calculations caused by interference from factors such as heat, electromagnetic radiation, and material defects. The errors are especially acute in quantum machines, since quantum information is so fragile.

The work at IBM was funded in part by the IARPA (Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity) multi-qubit-coherent-operations program.

To learn more about a new era of quantum computing research, please visit A Smarter Planet blog.

Written by TurboTodd

April 29th, 2015 at 1:59 pm

IBM Adds Second Cloud Center in the Netherlands

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IBM has announced that SoftLayer, an IBM Company it has opened a second cloud data center in the Netherlands, located in Almere, just outside of Amsterdam.

The new facility helps meet the rapid growth of IBM Cloud by doubling its SoftLayer capacity in the region, and provides even more options in the country and region for redundant data storage and geographically isolated services, ideal for creating secure and comprehensive backup and recovery strategies.

The Almere data center is securely connected by private network to all SoftLayer data centers around the world.

IBM Cloud operates SoftLayer facilities in North and South America, Asia, Australia, and Europe, including data centers in the greater London area, Paris, Frankfurt, and an existing data center in Amsterdam.

IBM Cloud customers can leverage this geographic diversity and seamless integration to mitigate business risk by replicating their data or creating redundant operations in multiple locations. In case of unexpected events, a customer can quickly recover their data or balance or reroute workloads between locations.

One customer already leveraging these advantages is leading Dutch IT and telecommunications services provider KPN. As part of an existing partnership with IBM, KPN sells cloud services built on SoftLayer infrastructure.

The company plans to deliver value-added cloud services to over one million small, medium-sized, large, and corporate businesses across the Netherlands via the new SoftLayer facility.

Since IBM acquired SoftLayer in the summer of 2013, SoftLayer’s global customer base has grown rapidly. IBM has opened 13 new SoftLayer data centers around the world over the last 10 months, with additional locations launching by the end of this year.

With each new facility, IBM Cloud builds a local team on the ground. IBM Cloud aims to triple SoftLayer technical and commercial staff in the Amsterdam area by the end of the year.

Written by TurboTodd

April 24th, 2015 at 3:04 pm

IBM Brings Cyber Threat Analytics to The Cloud

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IBM today announced it is bringing its market-leading Security Intelligence technology, IBM QRadar, to the cloud, giving companies the ability to quickly prioritize real threats and free up critical resources to fight cyberattacks.

The new services are available to clients through a cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) model, with optional IBM Security Managed Services to provide deeper expertise and flexibility for security professionals.

According to the 2014 IBM Cyber Index, organizations globally deal with an average of 91 million potential security events every year, creating vast volumes of data that need to be stored and analyzed.

Cloud-based threat monitoring and analytics provides the simplicity of a hosted deployment, combined with advanced analytics capabilities and the proven expertise from a security services provider needed to monitor today’s hybrid IT environments.

The two new cloud-based services are:

  • IBM Security Intelligence on Cloud – helps organizations determine if security-related events are simple anomalies or potential threats. Built as a cloud service using IBM QRadar, enterprises can quickly correlate security event data with threat information from over 500 supported data sources for devices, systems, and applications. This is complemented by more than 1500 pre-defined reports for use cases such as compliance, vulnerability management and security incident response. Also, the integration of QRadar with IBM’s recently announced cloud-basedX-Force Exchange gives security teams volumes of historical and real time threat intelligence.
  • Intelligent Log Management on Cloud – designed to simplify security and compliance data collection and reporting needs. Powered by IBM QRadar® technology, Intelligent Log Management uses analytics and a hosted, multi-tenant technology to rapidly deliver comprehensive compliance with powerful real-time correlation and anomaly detection capabilities. Through support for more than 400 platforms, security managers can also capture logs from nearly any device in their security operation.

Next Generation IBM Managed Services for Cloud Security

These new offerings are backed and delivered through IBM’s next-generation platform of managed security services, handling over 15 billion security events per day for over 4,000 clients around the world. IBM Security experts, located in ten global security operations centers (SOCs), are available on demand 24×7.

These IBM analysts and engineers help clients detect and protect themselves from security risks often before software fixes are released to the market—giving IBM clients an additional edge when it comes to safeguarding their computers, networks and corporate “crown jewels.”

The unique IBM capabilities consolidate diverse security environments across existing platforms, as well as private, public and hybrid clouds under a “single pane of glass”— helping customers transform and optimize their overall security operations.

This approach helps businesses better integrate security threat intelligence, big data and analytics with customized services. Also, clients can experience improved threat response times, while potentially reducing overall security costs by an average of 55 percent. This also significantly improves threat detection, helping clients automatically triage up to 95 percent of their security events.

You can learn more at IBM Security.

Written by TurboTodd

April 21st, 2015 at 2:48 pm

Is It Really A “Mobilegeddon”?

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You know there’s some serious hyperbole in action when everywhere you turn all anyone can talk about is "Mobilegeddon."

Google is making another big change to its search algorithm, and small businesses everywhere (and probably some large as well) are shaking in their Panda boots.

This time around, Google is allegedly going to place more value to web sites that look good on smartphones, which means they’ll rank higher on Google searches. For those sites that are not mobile-ready, well, prepare to find yourself in the Google search ranking doghouse.

Of course, the new mobile check is one of an estimated 200+ factors that play into Google’s algorithm. A spokeswoman for Google commented in The New York Times explained that "While the mobile-friendly change is important, we still use a variety of signals to rank search results."

She went on to add that "The internet of the search query is still a very strong signal," suggesting that pages with high-quality content but mobile unfriendliness could still rank higher than mobile-friendly but low quality pages.

Oh ye seekers of the great and ever elusive Google search algorithm, we wish ye well in your search for mobile tranquility and satisfaction.

You can get the full rundown from the Google Webmaster Central Blog.

Written by TurboTodd

April 21st, 2015 at 2:25 pm

Posted in google,mobile,search

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IBM 1Q 2015 Earnings: $2.44 EPS

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IBM today announced first-quarter 2015 diluted earnings from continuing operations of $2.44 per share, flat year-to-year. Operating (non-GAAP) diluted earnings from continuing operations were $2.91 per share, compared with operating diluted earnings of $2.68 per share in the first quarter of 2014, an increase of 9 percent.

First-quarter net income from continuing operations was $2.4 billion, down 5 percent year-to-year, including the impact of $0.2 billion in pension-related pre-tax charges for IBM Spain in the first quarter of 2015, resulting from a court ruling in Spain.

Operating (non-GAAP) net income from continuing operations was $2.9 billion compared with $2.8 billion in the first quarter of 2014, an increase of 4 percent. GAAP and Operating (non-GAAP) results include workforce rebalancing charges of $0.3 billion in the first quarter of 2015 and $0.9 billion in the year-ago period.

For the first-quarter of 2015, IBM reported consolidated net income of $2.3 billion or $2.35 of diluted earnings per share, including operating net losses in discontinued operations related to the Microelectronics business.

Total revenues from continuing operations for the first quarter of 2015 of $19.6 billion were down 12 percent, flat year-to-year adjusting for currency and divested businesses, from the first quarter of 2014.

"In the first quarter we had a strong start to the year. Our strategic imperatives growth rate accelerated, demonstrating the power of our offerings in these new opportunities and contributing to improved revenue performance. Our focus on higher value through portfolio transformation and investment in key areas of the business drove continued margin expansion, said Ginni Rometty, IBM chairman, president and chief executive officer.

More details from the quarter:

  • Diluted EPS from continuing operations:
    • Operating (non-GAAP): $2.91, up 9 percent;
    • GAAP: $2.44, flat year-to-year;
  • Net income from continuing operations:
    • Operating (non-GAAP): $2.9 billion, up 4 percent;
    • GAAP: $2.4 billion, down 5 percent;
  • Gross profit margin from continuing operations:
    • Operating (non-GAAP): 49.3 percent, up 80 basis points;
    • GAAP: 48.2 percent, up 50 basis points;
  • Revenue from continuing operations: $19.6 billion:
    • Flat year-to-year adjusting for currency and divested businesses (8 percent and 4 percent, respectively); down 12 percent as reported;
    • System z mainframe more than doubled;
  • Strategic imperatives revenue up more than 30 percent adjusting for currency and divested businesses; up more than 20 percent, as reported:
    • Cloud revenue up more than 75 percent adjusting for currency and divested businesses; up more than 60 percent as reported;
      • For cloud delivered as a service, annual run rate of $3.8 billion compared to $2.3 billion in the first quarter of 2014;
    • Business analytics revenue up more than 20 percent adjusting for currency and divested businesses; up 12 percent as reported;
  • Services backlog of $121 billion, flat year-to-year adjusting for currency and divested businesses;
  • Total shareholder return of $2.3 billion: dividends of $1.1 billion and gross share repurchases of $1.2 billion;
  • Maintain full-year expectations:
    • Operating (non-GAAP) EPS of $15.75 to $16.50;
    • Free cash flow flat year-to-year.

Written by TurboTodd

April 20th, 2015 at 8:13 pm

IBM Opens Threat Intelligence to Combat Cyber Attacks

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IBM announced it is making its vast library of security intelligence data available via the IBM X-Force Exchange, a new cyber threat intelligence sharing platform powered by IBM Cloud. This collaborative platform provides access to volumes of actionable IBM and third-party threat data from across the globe, including real-time indicators of live attacks, which can be used to defend against cybercrimes.

The need for trusted threat intelligence is greater than ever, as 80 percent of cyber attacks are driven by highly organized crime rings in which data, tools and expertise are widely shared. Though hackers have mobilized, their targets have not. A majority (65 percent) of in-house cybersecurity teams use multiple sources of trusted and untrusted external intelligence to fight attackers2.

The X-Force Exchange builds on IBM’s scale in security intelligence, integrating its portfolio of deep threat research data and technologies like QRadar, thousands of global clients, and acumen of a worldwide network of security analysts and experts from IBM Managed Security Services. Leveraging the open and powerful infrastructure of the cloud, users can collaborate and tap into multiple data sources, including:

  • One of the largest and most complete catalogs of vulnerabilities in the world;
  • Threat information based on monitoring of more than 15 billion monitored security events per day;
  • Malware threat intelligence from a network of 270 million endpoints;
  • Threat information based on over 25 billion web pages and images;
  • Deep intelligence on more than 8 million spam and phishing attacks;
  • Reputation data on nearly 1 million malicious IP addresses.

Today, the X-Force Exchange features over 700 terabytes of raw aggregated data supplied by IBM. This will continue to grow, be updated and shared as the platform can add up to a thousand malicious indicators every hour. This data includes real-time information which is critical to the battle against cybercrime.

Built by IBM Security, the IBM X-Force Exchange is a new, cloud-based platform that allows organizations to easily collaborate on security incidents, as well as benefit from the ongoing contributions of IBM experts and community members. Since the beta launch of the X-Force Exchange, numerous early adopters have joined the community.

By freely consuming, sharing and acting on real-time threat intelligence from their networks and IBM’s own repository of known threat intelligence, users can identify and help stop threats via:

  • A collaborative, social interface to easily interact with and validate information from industry peers, analysts and researchers;
  • Volumes of intelligence from multiple third parties, the depth and breadth of which will continue to grow as the platform’s user base grows;
  • A collections tool to easily organize and annotate findings, bringing priority information to the forefront;
  • Open, web-based access built for security analysts and researchers;
  • A library of APIs to facilitate programmatic queries between the platform, machines and applications; allowing businesses to operationalize threat intelligence and take action.

Within the platform, IBM will provide future support for STIX and TAXII, the emerging standard for automated threat intelligence sharing, for easy extraction and sharing of information to and from the exchange, as well as seamless integration into existing security systems.

Putting Cyberthreats in Context

For the first time, organizations can directly interact with IBM’s security analysts and researchers, as well as their industry peers, via the platform to validate findings and expose them to other companies fighting cybercrime.

For example, a security researcher might discover a new malware domain, noting it as malicious within the platform. From there, a security analyst at another company could find this domain from his or her network on the exchange and consult with other analysts and experts to validate its danger.

The analyst would then apply blocking rules to his or her own company’s digital presence, stopping malicious traffic, and – via the platform – would rapidly alert the organization’s Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) about the threat.

The CISO would then add this malicious traffic source to a public collection on the platform, sharing with industry peers to quickly contain and stop the threat before it can infect other companies.

For more information, please visit http://xforce.ibmcloud.com.

Written by TurboTodd

April 16th, 2015 at 4:25 pm

Johnson & Johnson, IBM To Collaborate on Advanced Healthcare Delivery Solutions

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Johnson & Johnson and IBM have announced plans to collaborate around a new generation of intelligent virtual coaching solutions and applications designed to transform the patient experience and deliver improved health outcomes.

The planned collaboration is intended to provide healthcare systems with holistic virtual coaching and rehabilitation solutions striving to transform the patient experience and healthcare delivery model by creating an integrated view of patient care.

Johnson & Johnson and IBM’s newly-formed Watson Health unit intend to use advanced data analysis and insights to help develop personalized patient engagement and coaching solutions that span consumer wellness and chronic condition management.

Through the collaboration, Johnson & Johnson would also leverage IBM’s relationship with Apple, Inc. to deliver new iPhone and iPad applications, providing a seamless user experience and intuitive design.

As a first step, Johnson & Johnson envisions the launch of next-generation health and wellness coaching solutions centered on preoperative and postoperative patient care for joint replacement and spine surgeries.

These mobile solutions would build on the Patient Athlete™ program, recently launched by the Depuy Synthesis Companies of Johnson & Johnson and the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute, the industry leader in applying sport science principles and holistic energy management training to drive sustained behavior change.

These mobile solutions would draw on data, analytics and insights from the IBM Watson Health Cloud and Watson cognitive technology – including predictive analytics, machine learning, and health care provider connectivity — to improve clinical and financial results.

The companies are also exploring ways to harness Watson Health’s diverse data sets to create new models that will better predict patient responses to various medical interventions.

Written by TurboTodd

April 15th, 2015 at 3:14 pm

The Masters

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Okay, golf fans, it’s that time of the year. The first regulation round of the Masters golf tournament teed off in Augusta, Georgia, this morning, and it’s a sterling field of players, as always.

Tiger Woods is in the field after missing last year’s Masters due to an injury, and the Golden Bear, Jack Nicklaus, made a hole in one in yesterday’s Par 3 tournament (Camillo Vegas made two holes in one in the Par 3 competition, a likely death knell for his Masters hopes — nobody who’s ever won the Par 3 competition went on to win the famed green jacket.

I was Facebooking with some friends the other day, and I called out some of my favorite players for this year’s tournament. They included Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy Phil Mickelson, Billy Horschel, Henrik Stenson, J.B. Holmes (coming off a playoff win at the Shell Open last weekend), Patrick Reed…not necessarily in any order, mind you.

But there’s so many great golfers out there, it’s hard to predict on Thursday who will be in contention on Sunday. Conditions can change, players get into a groove then fall out of it again…but l, for one, hope it’s close, as always, because that makes for much more drama than a runaway win (although Tiger’s first win in 1997 was the kind of runaway that made for its own drama).

IBM is once again on hand in Augusta to provide technology support and to help power the website. If you don’t have ESPN for the first two rounds, be sure to download the Masters app for your iOS or Android device, as you can catch live streaming video at a few spots along the course using the apps in HD quality.

This year, there’s also a nifty way to follow the placement of individual shots for individual players using the "Track" feature. And anyone who knows golf knows that shot placement at Augusta is especially important.

One wrong landing and you’ve got the pitch shot you never wanted to see, or a putt required to navigate the long and winding road of those labyrnthian greens.

Good luck to all the players in this year’s field!

You can find The Masters website here.

Written by TurboTodd

April 9th, 2015 at 2:24 pm

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