Right now, I’m thinking about how can I aggregate one month of tech news for the next edition. Yes, that’s right. We are going away for almost a month, with our next edition scheduled for January 10th 2022. These last few weeks have been busy, and rounding up the list wasn’t easy, but in less than five minutes, you’ll get a nice slice of what’s happened around our IT corner. I’m ending this year not with another tech piece but with advice to keep you grounded while navigating our lighting speed information era. We’ll see you in a few weeks.
Since 2015, Mr Eric Wastl has put up a set of programming challenges starting on December 1st until Christmas day. The Advent of Code, as Mr Eric named it, follows an Advent calendar, with a new challenge released every day during the period. This year isn’t different, and traction probably peeked with so many lockdowns everywhere. The Advent of Code is one of the most popular online coding challenges, but it isn’t original nor unique. There are many events with similar characteristics and if you’re interested, check this list from Smashing Magazine.. So whether you want to have fun or train your programming skills for your next challenge, jump in because there’s still time.
When Jetbrains brings a new product, it’s almost a sure bet. November 29th, Mr Hadi Hariri, the Lead Developer Advocate at Jetbrains, released a blog post announcing Fleet, a lightweight code editor that can scale to a fully-fledged IDE with a single click of a button. There isn’t much more to add to what Mr Hadi describes in his blog post, but I’m a fan of lightweight code editors and have big hopes for this one. It is still in early access, so you need to wait a few months until it is publicly released unless you get an invite. No invite here, though.
AWS in’s and outages
No outage should happen, of course, but this one, although it did not affect my infrastructure, affected me in another way. From time to time, I get the chance to give a Cloud Computing class on top of AWS. This year I repeated the event at ISCTE, a well-known Portuguese University in Lisbon. With the class scheduled two months in advance, I had the time to refine my slides and student challenges. I was excited and ready, but AWS wasn’t in the mood. December 7th, I got swamped with warnings that one AWS region was out, causing havoc to third parties as well in internal operations. My accounts were still fine, but most of my students couldn’t log in to their brand new accounts. Improvisation was required, and everything went ok but how does one defend the quality of AWS in such circumstances? You tell me. Nevertheless, a few days earlier, Meta, the social company formerly known as Facebook and Nasdaq, a USA stock exchange, announced partnerships with the cloud giant right after re:Invent, AWS annual event that showcases new technologies alongside developer conferences. Why can’t I stop uttering “single point of failure”? Speaking about re:Invent, it’s unbelievable how AWS can output so many new products and features, but they did it again. Covering all would be too much for an amateur writer like me, but I’ll leave you with an excellent summary from A Cloud Guru, an e-learning platform focused in Cloud Technologies and System design.
Tools for the Metafuture
One of the challenges to bring the Metaverse from a Neal Stephenson concept to reality we still need to develop equipment that shifts our idea of a Second Life alike interface to something crisp and capable of making the experience interesting for everyone. While Meta has already shown a few of their concepts, Sony doesn’t want to stay behind, and on December 8th, they’ve flexed R&D muscles revealing some of their current endeavours, including a 4K microdisplay for Augmented Reality experiences.. Sony already promised a 4K Playstation VR 2. It’s excellent that existing hardware vendors keep pushing technology limits, but a genuine Metaverse experience is still years in the future.
The European Commission announced new rules for Software developed under their roof. It should be released as Open Source and released to society. While one might wonder what EC produced Software would do for others, it’s still awkward that using public funds for Software development within public institutions doesn’t can be a closed source. Tax-funded work should be available to everyone and exploited accordingly. Let’s see if the trend picks up.
Autop…Drive Pilot on Autobahn
Mercedes, the German carmaker, got to be the first to receive authorisation from the German government to sell auto-piloted cars. The system should only be used in some sections of the Autobahn, and the limits are pretty humble, but it’s still another step towards driverless cars. Honda, the Japanese builder, already won first place in Japan and Waymo in the United States. While there is much to do until we get the driverless future, it’s still remarkable how governments deal with the situation allowing only local car makers in their own countries. Tesla earned a warning from German courts regarding its publicity about Autopilot since Teslas aren’t entirely driverless, and no authorisation was issued for that feature in Germany.
After Meta’s debut, everyone is waiting for those paradigm shift products that will instantly move us to the promised Metaverse. It’s not going to be like an off/on switch for sure but with some steps marking the transition. For now, we get a beta test for Novi, Meta’s cryptocurrency. Selected users will have the opportunity to transfer funds between Whatsapp accounts using the Novi wallet. Cryptocurrencies are expected to be the coin of choice in the Metaverse and a part of our global economic system. In parallel, Meta opens Horizon Worlds to the United States and Canada without a private invite. The product has been in private beta since 2019, and Mr Vivek Sharma, Meta’s VP of Horizon, thinks that it is time to have regular users since all the work already done will provide rich experiences to everyday users. Europe when?
Going deeper with Neural Networks
Deepmind, Alphabet’s AI branch, wants to go as deep as possible with their DeepNN models and plans a 280 billion parameter monster to improve GPT-3, an AI system for natural language generation that fits within the Large Language Model class. For DeepNN bigger means getting better, and [the most recent published work from Alphabet’s AI shop] (#https://deepmind.com/blog/article/language-modelling-at-scale) shows that there’s still much space for improvements with this type of model class using brute force data to feed it. They also note that some problem categories can’t be brute-forced, but the models need bigger sizes before more abstract concept training. Don’t worry. You still have some years before the Eschaton arrives.
In my view, New year’s resolutions don’t make much sense. I don’t have a quantised and/or cyclic vision of time. January 1st is just another day that streams right after the last day of the previous year. Nevertheless, it would be absurd to ignore that we, as a race, attribute meaning to these time markers. Business, in general, will never let us forget such time transitions. “Time is money” and “The deadline is tomorrow”, right? Whether celebrating or mourning, time transitions will be kept as a tradition while we endure and progress.
The last word, progress, is central within MV Journal’s context and objective.
Information technology, or just IT, is one of the most essential substrates of humanities progress and a very dynamic one, as we can see in a few of our editions. I don’t even scratch the surface of the industry with the small amount of information that I can collect, produce and distil. Sometimes, having a broad idea of the dimension of what we don’t know might overwhelm senses and freeze you in place, where you feel comfortable with your steady horizon. Don’t confuse the fear of going beyond your understanding boundaries with the passion for digging in a narrow knowledge domain. The first one is destructive, while the second might take you to a place that no one has ever been. Never mind the skills and work needed to go deep on a topic and get something new out of it. You’ll build muscles that can’t be taken away from you in normal circumstances.
In a single day, much happens in this vibrant IT landscape. Visit any established news aggregator such as Slashdot or Techmeme, and from hour to hour, you’ll get something new. What might be really important or just another press release becomes blurred. If this happens with the aggregators, imagine the herculean job of combing the internet for fresh information. It’s daunting and nauseous. Eventually, one feels the information overload and avoids it altogether. Force a sedentary to run 5Km every day starting right now. How many days until the pleading “I can’t do it anymore.”?
So what could I suggest that could be taken as a resolution for the new year marker that is up ahead? What to do to avoid being paralysed by information.
Create a discovery habit.
Keep pushing your knowledge barriers every day, exploring the landscape with a bird’s eye view, diving deep whenever it warrants your attention and not when the headline draws you to it. A robust exploration habit will give you range and awareness of the information landscape without being overwhelmed with the dept of so many subjects. You’ll gain the capacity of dealing with a daily open barrage of information without even blinking, picking only what matters to you, curating your understanding of the world. Start now with any of MV Journal’s pieces. Click on the links, find expressions and words that you don’t get entirely. Explore the connections between Machine Learning and Low Code Platforms, Blockchain and Decentralized Autonomous Organizations, Cyberpunk and the Metaverse, Art and Programming. What to do with it? It’s up to you.