Ease of embracing Cloud Storage Services

The following post is inspired by the following picture which I observed

cloudInnovation

Almost the last three – to – four decades saw the following innovations and how easily users embraced them depended on how easily the innovation providers provides its usable-innovative product to the innovation consumer.

Innovations(including inventions):-

  1. Computer
  2. Internet – the World Wide Web
  3. Web Applications starting with Search, Email, Ecommerce and so many varities satisfying user’s needs.
  4. Social Network
  5. Smartphones
  6. (Distributed systems – providing analytics, recommendations leveraging machine learning)

And am guessing that, we are entering the world of:

  • Virtual Reality
  • Cloud Storage

Just to jot down few observations or possibilities on Cloud Storage.

Google

How is Google marching into providing ease embracing of Cloud Storage Services?

Check above picture.. It is observable that , whenever a website provides an option to save a file into our local system, it becomes a potential use-case of using cloud storage. Basic assumption is that user is logged into his Google account while browsing.

And how will a user embrace cloud storage service ?

  • Inject javascript into website.
  • Show buttons to click for saving to Cloud storage
  • Allow user to authenticate and select folder in cloud
  • Start saving.. Tada.. Done with saving file onto Cloud Storage
  • (And after that user is unconciously using innovation of cloud storage and doing his work.)

If you want to check this out (this article will become obsolete, as in the future, users will be doing it very frequently),

Yes, I experienced a ‘WoW’ too.

It is amazing that such an easy embracing provided by Google. Who are the other competitors in market of Cloud Storage? – Microsoft, Amazon, Dropbox, Facebook?

Facebook

Currently, Facebook allows to store photos,videos,links, notes….. what about documents? Oh. But is Facebook looking into cloud storage? Should it? This thought came about when I observed that button: Save to Google Drive. I have seen other similar buttons- the social media sharing buttons, especially Facebook. What if Facebook plans to provide APIs to developers in similar fashion and allow users to save documents, assuming that Facebook has its huge set of datacenters, with lot of storage space. (Here also, making an assumption about Facebook users that they are logged in and Oh, the plugin/ javascript injection-turned button would ask the user to just log-in. So, job done.)

Amazon

Amazon Cloud Services are currently used by companies, not just for storage purpose, but for handling calculations/processing user’s needs based on the interaction with a particular web-based solution. Imagine, user browsing through Amazon website for purchasing items. Parallely, checking out some websites. Amazon could do that (plugin on a web-page to save to Amazon drive) too, allowing users to store in their Cloud.

Microsoft

Like how Google will be engaged with users with their Android-base and like how Facebook will be engaged with users, who are ‘logged in’ to the app, Microsoft too is engaged with users, who are having Windows phones. They enable use of Sky-drive. Microsoft could do that too ((plugin on a web-page to save to sky drive)).

Why should Cloud Storage Services be easily embraced by Internet users, given that currently, companies are leveraging Cloud Storage Services? The most important customers to any innovative product is the end-user, the individuals directly and if this innovation provider can reach the innovation consumer directly, it would be good.

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Machine Learning 101 – Check the examples for yourself

AI

  • Machine Learning and Human Learning

Machine Learning is a concept which defines how a machine learns about something. For a human-being to learn something, humans have senses which produce perception. Human beings as they grow and learn is almost a good inspiration for machine learning. Using senses, humans collect data, store data in brain. Using some awesome ingenious algorithms inside the brain, humans analyze data, classify the data, make self-recommendations of the data, make predictions about the data. The best thing about human beings is entire life is an input data, all experiences, all voices, all images, videos, any experience produced by sensory perception is an input data which the human brain learns upon. Taking machine learning as our focus here, given a particular scenario and data, the machine can do wonders.

  • Machine Learning Life Cycle

Let’s take a look at the following machine learning lifecycle, as illustrated in Machine Learning for java:

  1. Pick a problem
  2. Collect Data
  3. Model
  4. Train
  5. Recommend/Classify/Predict
  6. Re-train

For example, take the case of e-commerce platform.

Consider the problem-scenario of customers browsing an ecommerce website, say like amazon.com. Our objective of our machine learning solution is to recommend products to customers. (This is one way of keeping the customers within the website, part of gamification, encouraging them to buy more products as well).

How shall we do it? We have defined our problem. Now we need to collect data. Based on the user-base, collect data regarding how users uses a website, thats the user-engagement data at the website. This becomes the data for our problem. For example, we will need to answer questions like: “Suppose a customer is searching for a book on Job Interview, what are the things which interests him, which he tries to click or view?” Observations regarding how user engages the website can be collected and over period of time, create a model of user engagement in an e-commerce website. The system would tune the model by training based on various user input at the website.

Once the training is in process, based on collected data and model, the system can go to the next step of classifying/recommending/predicting. For example, for a user interested in beauty products, the website could recommend more products related to beauty to that particular user, since that parameter is very relevant to that user, as the user is interested in it. The system could make some predictions about related items, such as : based on location of the user, determine a beauty salon, predict that user might be interested in that OR predict that user might be interested in related beauty items and display them. As a part of this, classification has been performed by the system, as to which category of interest the user is looking into.

  • See for yourself – machine learning live in action in different scenarios

See for yourself in any e-commerce website:-

Once you search for a particular item, the system would start recommending related items. And based on history of other customer usage, it also recommends a combination of items to be purchased.

The next step is with ads- related ads are fetched and shown to the user, recommending user to buy related product.

See for yourself in a social network website, for example: Facebook:-

Once you send a friend request to some person, the system based on recommendation system, suggests some more friends, since they are mutual. If you join a group, the system predicts that you might become a friend to a person in that group, it shows suggestions. If you publish a post, the words of the post is analyzed and based on machine learning, make a prediction and recommend by showing a suggested post or suggested ad in the vicinity of browsing area.

See for yourself in twitter:-

Once you follow a particular user, it will start popping small tabs of related person/topic to follow. You might start wondering at how the system predicted what you want.

See for yourself in wordpress:-

Suppose you start following blogs related to technology, wordpress system will start recommending other blogs of similar interest.

See for yourself in Quora:-

Quora is explicit in its suggestions, like it shows up a topic and says, because you follow that related topic. It suggests a friend and says, two of your friends are already friends to this new person.

See for yourself in Google:-

Once we have searched for some phrase, Google tries to predict what we wanted to search for and what related things are there to search for and shows up all these predictions for the user to select.

So, we can see machine learning in action than any time before, in many fields. Since most of the websites engaging users collect data, train the system, and retain the users as much as possible by intelligently learning, recommending, classifying, predicting. Machine Learning aids gamification of a website which is answering a question as to how a user can be engaged with the website. It can also be put to use for many other areas.

A final thought: Human learning is beautiful and machine learning is aspiring to reach that level. But nowadays, humans are depending on these same machines for their learning and with all the recommendations, predictions and classification made by the system, humans are learning based on these. In a way, learning of humans is being controlled by these machines, based on the exposure to the machines.

Virtual Reality – Inception Inspiration

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Lots of stuff recently in technology blogs are about Virtual Reality. Augmented Reality where we have a mix of virtual images/objects mixed with the real scene. Virtual Reality is, where there is no real scene, assuming that experiencing virtual reality is through eyes and the projection created by the headset is a virtual scene.

Virtual reality is an immersive multimedia experience for individuals,

hmm, why should it be restricted to individuals? Can’t group of people experience virtual reality, in the sense that currently headsets are presented to individuals and each individual experience the virtual scene. Its almost like a person listening to a music on a laptop with his own headphone. Whereas when a group of people enter a theatre/multiplex for watching a movie, they experience the music/movie using the medium provided by the theatre. So, there might come a possibility to provide a virtual reality experience, which might involve guiding of people around the virtual world.

Version 1.0 – Trying to jot down few points regarding virtual reality experience:-

  • Virtual Currency – method of payment in Virtual Reality

We do earn money, spend money in the real world. So, virtual reality might be able to provide an experience where people spend their time, do some virtual job, earn some money and there might be a medium to transfer that virtual currency to a real currency? Depending on the pervasiveness of this virtual reality market, people might start doing  businesses in the virtual world. Since imagination is far away from reality, virtual reality might bring some experience which might be incomprehensible to individuals.

  • Virtual Web – Browsing Virtually, creating Virtual Content

Imagine people browsing the internet for information. Imagine people spending their time in virtual reality and people have become so obsessed in real life internet that they might want to explore the things present in virtual world, so they would want a virtual web which would present things in the same way as the web does now. We might as well have a virtual browser, virtual internet , virtual google. This takes me to the next point.

  • Virtual Onboarding – a reality of Inception movie?

People who want to experience their dream world, just plugin to the virtual reality, experience it. And what would be the level of virtuality world. Imagine that the real world where people live in , breathe physical air is at level 0, the first virtual world is at level 1, Some virtual reality pioneer might provide  the next level of virtual world within the level one virtual world. Sounds almost like inception, dream within a dream. Maybe that pioneer would present its onboarding facility, just login to the website, connect your virtual headset, immerse yourself into these levels of virtual realities…

  • Second Life and Virtual Reality?

I assume Second Life, a virtual world (game) does not have a headset-interface, if I am not wrong. The speed at which many startups, research organizations are working in virtual reality, it might bring forth lots of multimedia creations providing experiences through headset or other medium, like how Second Life initially intended to.

  • Parallel Universes and Virtual Reality?

Just a related concept, maybe. Am unaware of the concept of parallel universe. But universe within a universe is what virtual reality might target in becoming…

  • Injecting Intelligence into Virtual Reality — creating some possibility in Virtual Reality, transport to Real World?

Shooting for stars here.. If the real world does not provide space and is limited to perform some research or try some possibility, maybe virtual reality might provide a mechanism to try these and bring out some amazing results. And what if there is some mechanism to transport these back to real world and share the results in the real world? Like how USB is used to transfer data from one system to another. Some USB thingy to transfer data from virtual world to real world…

  • Virtual Experiments

Imagine einstein doing thought experiments like sitting on a light beam and moving along with the light beam. Based on the properties of various objects which have been identified and then simulated in virtual world, interested people can do virtual experiments, like imagining to be sitting on a bird, experience the flight manoeuvre of a bird.

  • Programming Virtual Reality? (The Matrix)

This reminds of the movie Matrix. Hackers hacking the real world, why wont they be interested in hacking the virtual world, after all virtual reality is going to be programmed and based on machine learning or artificial intelligence, virtual reality would try to respond to user’s actions, by image manipulation.

  • Teaching through Virtual Reality?

Virtual Reality could be leveraged for education purposes. Chemistry, visualizing the atomic structure. Electronics, transfer of bytes from one location to another. Computer Algorithms – Visualizing self balancing property of Red-Black trees. Mechanics – understanding the nuts and bolts of a complex machine in a simpler manner.

  • Imagination empowered by Virtual Reality?

The real world and the real experiences, the books, music, media, sound, touch and the sensory information captured by the senses allow our imagination to wander enough (might involve past life experiences as well :)). Probably, virtual reality might expand the imagination, it might pave a path for imagination.

  • Mind-boggling inventions using Virtual Reality?

Imagination is more important than knowledge – Einstein. When imagination would be empowered by Virtual Reality, inventions and possibilities would increase.

  • Virtual People, Virtual Lives, Practice?

Real people plugging into Virtual World and there might be people who are born in virtual world, just like what is shown in matrix. People might be able to practice some skills in virtual reality and when this sensory information is captured in the virtual world, it might be put to use in the real world.

  • Illusion – Maya – Sages – Virtual Reality – Sages laughing…

Lastly, wanted to touch on maya/illusion part. The life we are living, as perceived by Saintists (Saints who are scientists) is an illusion. And virtual reality is taking us to another level of illusion. People might get so bogged down with virtual reality and might start thinking virtual reality as their reality, but at level 0, there was the real reality and at level -1, meaning before physical birth would have been another level of reality, which the human being might not be aware of, since he/she is reading this article in reality level 0.

What shall happen to desktop software?

desktop

In the previous decade, more and more people started embracing computers. This led companies to provide desktop-based solutions. This led companies to innovate on desktop-executables for people to use on a daily basis.

But disruptive innovation in the technology space like the web and now smartphones created a paradigm shift for existing desktop-thriving companies. Till when desktop companies would rely their revenue on their existing customers? Existing desktop-software consumers are moving fast into the space of web and smartphones. Attracting new customers will be out of option.

Desktop software solutions companies have to migrate to web, as more and more users are on the web and shifting from web to desktop is almost a pain for some. They need to embrace the phone-app world or web-app world. One strategy for them would be keep existing desktop solutions, create web-enabled solutions, catch users, expand customer-base, slowly migrate from desktop-only solution towards web-only solution.

The affordability of web-technologies make competition more stiff for desktop-solution providers. Most of the desktop-solutions have come on to the web- be it office-based (google-docs), photo-editing (photo-editing extensions for browsers), mails (most of web-based mail clients), multi-media (streaming). The emergence of Chromebook is a direct example of drifting away from desktop and moving to web.

Currently, people are still using desktop-solutions if they fall into following categories:-

  1. They are un-aware of web-equivalent solutions.
  2. I dont want to use Internet all the time, pay for the bills. I can get my work done using this software.
  3. People are very much used to using the desktop-solution that they dont want to migrate towards web.
  4. Some of the softwares will still not have a equivalent solution in the web-space / smartphone-app-space.

Emergence of Cloud-based services:

As more and more companies are embracing cloud services, they shall start providing cloud-based solutions. Google docs has already caught some part of the market. Others will be on their way, but what will be the differentiation factor?

Networking will be a big space for innovation in coming years, as more people would start embracing web, so scale will grow, existing solutions might be obsolete, would require not tuning, but from-scratch innovation.

Previously hackers targeted desktop-users and as more people embrace web, they shall start targetting web-users and innovation in security will start improving.

Logging ‘Startup Weekend Chennai – FinTech’

My objective of this article is to save my thoughts on what I had experienced during this meetup. DAY-01 –

  • EVENT 101: COMING TO KNOW ABOUT STARTUP-WEEKEND

TLDR: Came to know of the event through meetup android app I am a user of meetup.com and they have their android app which keeps sending notifications regarding the events. So, on that good friday, I got a notification regarding this event. I browsed the website to get more information on the event. As I was reading their articles, I became very interested in their well-planned agenda. For me, this would be the first startup event for which I would be going. I had always wanted to be part of a space where people discuss innovative ideas and build the solution and experience the wonder. As I was browsing their website, I felt: This is it. I have to go. I was happy enough, called one of the organizers of the event, clarified my doubts regarding the event, registered for the event as a hacker. (They had categorized participants of the event as: Hustler (Business), Hacker (Coding), Designer(UI)). I assumed that I would be late, just hurried and reached Paypal office in Shollinganallur. I was happy to reach on time and just registered again at the entrance.

  • EVENT 102: GAME OF PITCHING IDEAS BASED ON RANDOM WORDS

Participants from various background, company, colleges had come. Organizers had a beautiful way to boost all of them and get together as a team. Sequentially, participants would shout some random word, all these were collected. Teams were formed. Each team had to select set of words and had to come up with an idea and pitch. And all this had to be done within 5 minutes. Pitching of ideas to be done in 1 minute. Everyone had to come out of shyness, just participate, share ideas, collect them, fit them into some common theme, build it up and try to showcase it to audience.

  • EVENT 103: PITCHING IDEAS RELATED TO FINTECH

Now starts the real part. People are encouraged to think of ideas related to FinTech. Pitch the idea to the audience within 1 minute time. Best part of this event is the extent to which ideas can grow. You can watch people sharing ideas, opening new dimensions to your thought process. I also got encouraged to think of an idea, which was made almost on the spot. Some awesome ideas were shared regarding financial literacy, money management, loan sensing etc, just to name a few.

  • EVENT 104: CHART PRESENTATION OF IDEAS and VOTING

Each participant who pitched an idea was given a chart to present that idea with some blueprint of the flow. It would contain few bullet points which will cover the business model of that idea. Who are the key resources, participants in the scenario. People can cast a vote on a particular idea by putting a sticker on the chart.

  • EVENT 104: FORMATION OF TEAMS

The top ten ideas based on the number of votes were selected. Each person was asked to come on stage and present his team requirements, whether he needed a business person or a hacker or a UX person or a strategist. Whoever is interested in an idea will join the team. A well-planned buffet-style dinner was arranged. Networking of people resumed. Participants get to meet other participants who run companies, startups, growth-specialists, marketing specialists. A good opportunity to meet people and network and share ideas. DAY-02 –

  • EVENT 201: TEAM DISCUSSION

Even though people are clueless regarding the practical nature of the idea, this is the interesting part, things become clearer. The idea is ripped apart, what are the different use-cases related to the idea? Whether it would be used on a daily basis? The idea is added with more layers, more features.

  • EVENT 202: MEETING MENTORS

The best part of startup weekend is an opportunity to meet mentors, present the ideas, get questioned by them, get their encouragement. Some of the mentors were already running startup companies. They have already gone through the experience. The way they see the other side of the ideas are amazing. The experience of mentors adds up a lot of value to the thinking process of the team towards solidification of the idea/ liquidification of idea, or creation of another idea from scratch. They provide new lenses to look through the ideas. You get to learn a lot while interacting with the mentors. Some of the mentors are also investors. There was one participant who later told that what he had learnt for months together in his college, he learnt them in few days as part of startup weekend.

  • EVENT 203: VALIDATION OF IDEAS –> PIVOTING

As ideas get validated, we will come to realize whether the product would stand in the market, be well received, be engaging or not. The process of validation of ideas with the mentors and with the other participants allows us to have a kind of mini-survey and we realize that we need to pivot. I assume many of the startup companies would have pivoted from their initial idea and I am sure there would have been more pivoting.

  • EVENT 204: LET THE HACKING BEGIN

Some of the teams started with building a prototype for the idea, even to the extent of creating an android app or a web app. DAY-03

  • EVENT 301: BUSINESS MODELLING

Each team had to prepare business modelling for their product. They were given a business modelling canvas, which basically had some columns with various points like: Key Partners, Value Proposition, Customer Relationships, Revenue streams, Cost Structure etc. This canvas was very handy to be used to create a presentation of the product. These are the key parameters for business creation which had to be kept in mind. Business Modelling Canvas

  • EVENT 302: MEETING MENTORS

We got to meet different set of mentors. Again this was an opportunity to discuss the possibilities of the product. How it would be used by different age-groups? Whether it would help a family to solve a problem which they face on a day-to-day basis? Whether it would help a unorganized retailer to solve his problem at a low infrastructural cost? Whether it would redefine the way people spend, pay, save money? These were some of the discussions we had.

  • EVENT 304: PRESENTATION CREATION, MOCKUPS

This is another interesting part of the event where team get together and create a presentation which would be pitching of ideas in front of judges. What info has to be put into the slides, what should be the name of the app/product? What should be revenue model for the product? What is the launch plan? What is 1-year plan? What is 2-years plan for the product? What is the team structure? How do you plan to catch the audience? All these ideas were thought of and put in the presentation. Mockups of the app/product were created so that demo can be shown during presentation.

  • EVENT 305: PITCHING BEFORE INVESTORS

Here’s the final interesting part. Teams pitching their ideas before judges. Judges coming with lots of experience. They know the market in and out. They know the emerging startups. They are aware of product-stragegy, product-innovation. This was a right place for startup-enthusiasts to present their product ideas to the judges. Their response and their feedback adds a lot of value to the whole participation.

  • EVENT 306: PHOTO SESSION

Take-away points from the event:-

  • Learnings from the organizers

Maintain feel good factor for the participants. Keep up the energy and enthusiasm of the participants. People Engagement is important. Gamification of the event is in their hands.

  • Learnings from the participants

Have energy and enthusiasm. Communicate. Whatever the idea maybe, however it might be, just discuss. Meet people, Take initiative. Dance :). Be creative. Be innovative. There are lots of awesome tools waiting to be used. For example, prezy, mockit, fluid-ui etc.

  • Learnings from mentors

Are you trying to solve a problem faced by people? How frequently this problem being faced by people? What is the level of pain of this problem faced by people? How do you foresee whether this idea is replicable or not? How do you make money out of your product?

  • Learnings from judges/investors

What is the problem you are trying to solve? Be clear. Be concise. Be focused. How do you differentiate yourself from other ideas/solutions? Are you creating a value from your idea/startup? Investors have very finite time to listen to pitches, so be very clear about the problem you are trying to solve, while presenting. The situation now in the startup space is very encouraging for any person with determination. This was not how it was few years ago. Thanks to Paypal which provided a space for this event.