Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Watson on Jeopardy

Did you see Watson, the IBM computer compete on Jeopardy last week. I did, in fact I was really looking forward to it. Obviously the geek in me was awed by the computing power.

Watson clearly dominated. In the three day match he beat the two human competitors by a margin of roughly 3 to 1. Obviously Watson got many answers right, but what I found interesting was what he got wrong. When he was wrong, he was VERY wrong! I’m sure we’ve all heard about the Final Jeopardy answer in the second match. All those people from Toronto never knew they were Americans! But some other more interesting mistakes where when he didn’t even give the right kind of reply.

For example, on the question: “In May 2010 5 Paintings worth $125 Million by Braque, Matisse & 3 others left Paris’ museum of this art period?” The answer was Modern Art, Watson said Picasso, obviously not an art period.

The use for this kind of computing power boggles my mind. We just have to remember to sanity check his answers!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cloud Computing – Connecting People

I know of three different companies right now that are developing some sort of distributed applications, running on multiple computers and platforms. In many aspects these systems are wildly different. They’re being developed for consumers and businesses world wide. The platforms may be PC, Linux, proprietary hardware and/or mobile devices. The applications themselves, the complexity and the architectures, vary wildly, but the most interesting thing is the commonality.

All of these applications are about connecting people. Whether it’s a consumer focused social application or a global business application or a new distribution channel for an industry where distribution has been a huge issue, all three of these applications really are flatting the world and leveling the playing field.

It’s fascinating and gratifying to be playing a role in changing the way we interact and do business. It makes me wonder what I’ll be writing about changing ten years from now!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Software Process Improvement Consulting

In 2005, I joined Advanced Decisions to establish a Software Process Improvement practice within the company. Well, long story short, I got busy with our core business of software and hardware product development and we never formally developed that practice. The interesting thing is that we seem to provide consulting on Software Process and SDLC as part of many of our engagements anyway.

The most obvious example is our work with start-ups. We typically are engaged to develop their product, but often wind up developing their process, their team, and even on occasion aspects of their business. With our larger clients we develop good quality documentation that’s often used as an example of what to develop in the future. Even with our prospects, we ask them enough questions about how they are developing their products to get them thinking.

It just goes to show, the outcome of a goal or desire may not always look like you expect.