On Culture

I have said in the past, Culture eats strategy for breakfast. One cannot fix culture – but rather lead with example and have others follow.

This article on how Satya at Microsoft is expecting a culture shock to drive growth at Microsoft is a great example of this. Quite exciting days for Microsoft ahead.

Google as Xerox PARC?

This wired article titled If Xerox PARC Invented the PC, Google Invented the Internet, is an old one – from 5 years ago, but it is still an inspirational read. So many things lined up for Google, to be where they are today.

I still get goose bumps reading that article – but then I am a geek, if that wasn’t obvious. Whilst, grid computing with GFS, MapReduce, Hadoop, are still very much relevant and great (and most others still trying to use and understand it); Dynamo (from Amazon) and BigTable lead to NoSQL which is great and still worth spending a lot of time learning, playing, and, experimenting – I would love to hear on what they are doing now with Colossus (think of that as GFS vNext), Caffeine and, Spanner.

7 years is an eternity and who knows what is cooking? And of course what are both Microsoft and Amazon doing to compete around this. How can you not continue to be excited the world we are living in? 🙂

HoloLens – Spectator view – allowing others to see what you are seeing

Microsoft just announced an update around the HoloLens that allows you to share on what you are seeing (from a first-person perspective) with others to make to more interactive. This is a combination of MRC (Mixed Reality Capture) which already exists and some new updates that address some of the short coming of the MRC – especially when working with a audience.

The main use case on the spectator view – as the name suggests is to allow those in the room not wearing a device to see the holograms but also the interactions that the folks wearing HoloLens with their mixed reality experience.

You can use this to capture a mixed-reality scene, live stream the content (say in a meeting / conference), and, shoot/record the video. This essentially is the ‘cheap’ version of the special camera rig that Microsoft uses for keynote presentations.

It is not as straight forward as you might imagine; but at the same time if you are doing this ‘properly’ it isn’t as complex as well. You need some special equipment, and need to change some configuration, and add details to your apps to account for this.

.

You do need some special DSLR cameras (with HDMI output), and some other hardware – details can be found here. You can also 3D print the mount (STP can be found here).

And in addition there are a bunch of other steps that you need to do – from calibrating  (to get the offset from the camera), to the Compositor (which is a unity extension)  and allows you to record the video and change the hologram opacity, spatial mapping data details, etc.

All the detailed steps can be found here. And if this is all new, then I highly recommend to check out the Holograms 240 course. And below is an example on what this all can look like.

Preparation

Us vs some of our friends. You know who you are. 

Mouse without borders issue – Only one usage of each socket address

I have been using Mouse without Borders, a program that allows you to make a virtual KVM between machines for some time at home and it is awesome. You can use one set of keybard and mouse among various (windows) machines including clipboard and copy and paste. If you haven’t tried it, I would highly recommend it.

However lately I could not connect between two machines and kept getting the error: “Only one usage of each socket address“. To the point where it was unusable and was pretty annoying. I looked online at their site but nothing jumped out. BTW, I was seeing this only on one machine (running Windows 10) and not the other one (also running Windows 10 but an inner ring of the Creators Update – essentially the next version of Windows).

What I understand the issue to be is that Windows is running out of ports and where programs that use a port for a short time, it won’t matter much, in this case the port is always going to be used.

The solution that seems to be working for me is quite simple – we increase the number of ports available to Windows. This is quite simple and to do this if you run an elevated command prompt and copy and paste the following command:

netsh int ipv4 set dynamicport tcp start=1025 num=64511

And if you are not sure on how to get the elevated command prompt – easiest way to do that is press WinKey + X, and from the menu select Command Prompt (Admin) as shown below.

Elevated command prompt menu
Elevated command prompt

How does the Netherlands welcome the new US President?

Bing Blues

It isn’t often that one see’s issues with Bing – I can’t recall when I last saw it, but then when it does it sure is cute. We love Pandas so this can only be good. 🙂

Blockchain, blockchain, blockchain!

Dilbert says it nicely! 🙂

blockchain1

blockchain2

blockchain3

Object and scene detection with #AI

Continuing the previous #ArtificialIntelligence theme. Wanted to see what and how does Amazon’s rekognition work and different from the #AI offerings from the others, such as Microsoft.

Here is a #ProjectMurphy image’s confidence score. I am glad to see that there is a 99% confidence that this is a person.

Object and Scene detection

The request POST is quite simple:

{
 "method": "POST",
 "path": "/",
 "region": "us-west-2",
 "headers": {
 "Content-Type": "application/x-amz-json-1.1",
 "X-Amz-Date": "Thu, 01 Dec 2016 22:21:01 GMT",
 "X-Amz-Target": "com.amazonaws.rekognitionservice.RekognitionService.DetectLabels"
 },
 "contentString": {
 "Attributes": [
 "ALL"
 ],
 "Image": {
 "Bytes": "..."
 }
 }
 }

And so is the response:

{
 "Labels": [
 {
 "Confidence": 99.2780990600586,
 "Name": "People"
 },
 {
 "Confidence": 99.2780990600586,
 "Name": "Person"
 },
 {
 "Confidence": 99.27307891845703,
 "Name": "Human"
 },
 {
 "Confidence": 73.7669448852539,
 "Name": "Flyer"
 },
 {
 "Confidence": 73.7669448852539,
 "Name": "Poster"
 },
 {
 "Confidence": 68.23612213134765,
 "Name": "Art"
 },
 {
 "Confidence": 58.291263580322266,
 "Name": "Brochure"
 },
 {
 "Confidence": 55.91957092285156,
 "Name": "Modern Art"
 },
 {
 "Confidence": 53.9996223449707,
 "Name": "Blossom"
 },
 {
 "Confidence": 53.9996223449707,
 "Name": "Flora"
 },
 {
 "Confidence": 53.9996223449707,
 "Name": "Flower"
 },
 {
 "Confidence": 53.9996223449707,
 "Name": "Petal"
 },
 {
 "Confidence": 53.9996223449707,
 "Name": "Plant"
 },
 {
 "Confidence": 50.69965744018555,
 "Name": "Face"
 },
 {
 "Confidence": 50.69965744018555,
 "Name": "Selfie"
 }
 ]
}

Here is what the facial analysis shows;

Facial Analysis

However how does it handle something a little more complex perhaps?

Object and Scene detection

And finally, what of the comparison? I think there might be some more work to be done on that front.

Face Comparison capture

Here is the response:

{
 "FaceMatches": [
 {
 "Face": {
 "BoundingBox": {
 "Height": 0.3878205120563507,
 "Left": 0.2371794879436493,
 "Top": 0.22435897588729858,
 "Width": 0.3878205120563507
 },
 "Confidence": 99.79533386230469
 },
 "Similarity": 0
 }
 ],
 "SourceImageFace": {
 "BoundingBox": {
 "Height": 0.209781214594841,
 "Left": 0.4188888967037201,
 "Top": 0.13127413392066955,
 "Width": 0.18111111223697662
 },
 "Confidence": 99.99442291259765
 }
}

Playing with #AI

So, been spending a lot of time recently around many things related to Artificial Intelligence (#AI).  More on that some day. 🙂

Was curious about yesterdays Amazon’s announcement to jump on this bandwagon. Of course Microsoft and others have been there. I don’t know to what extend has Amazon been working on this, but given Alexa has been out for a couple of years, I know they have had rich pickings of tuning this further.

I thought Polly (like the parrot?) was quite different from the things I have seen from others. This is a text-to-speech, where it renders the inputted text into various dialects and you can have a few outputs for those too. It supports a few dialects (for the synthesized speech) and one can use it using a simple API (the Android example shows it is not very complex to consume, of course you still need to think about the overall design and elements of Software Engineering, latency, limits, bandwidth, etc.). Should you desire you can customize it using pronunciation Lexicons that allow one to tweak this.

Here are a few examples, of course none of them are me, and hence the “cold”.

Australian (Male):

Indian (Female):

Italian (Male):

US/American (Male):

Of course if you play with it, it is easy to pick up the patterns and what is being changed, versus not. But kudos to the team on this. I think it will help accelerate the adoption of #AI.

Excel runs the world

This video proves it; and it also shows that Clint is probably one of the best teachers out there! Love the passion! Now, go learn some Excel. 🙂

Real-time performance capture – HoloPortation?

Some of the folks working on PPI and HoloPortation team from MSR left and went to setup a new company called PerceptiveIO.

They have recently published a paper called Fusion4D: Real0time performance capture of challenging scenes. In that they cover some of the work around multi-view performance capture, the raw depth acquisition and preprocessing that needs to be done around that. This interestingly also handles deformation changes (e.g. taking off a jacket or a scarf) and these can be non-rigid and much more difficult to handle, but they are done beautifully.

ffd 1.png

Combining this with the likes of HoloLens would make it quite interesting. If you want to see more, check out the video below showing the examples and transitions below. Perhaps one day, it would allow us to see and experience events from afar. 🙂

How I feel each time I wear the HoloLens?

Honestly, I don’t think even Tony Stark can explain – this sums it up quite nicely and the music is just the cherry on top. 🙂

Three cheers for Agile!

(Hip hip Hooray!)3

Monkeying Around with Holograms

imageI guess you can see the similarity? No? Smile

HoloLens–Device Portal (Part 2)

In addition to the HoloLens Device Portal (see part 1), another option is using the UAP HoloLens companion app which you can install from the store. I think this is a little more end-user friendly, and perhaps a little less developer focused. It exposes a subset of the same functionality.

Once you install it, you connect more or less in the same manner; I think most people will like the live streaming option. There is a bit of latency between the device and what is shown, but that could be somewhat because of our (possibly crappy) wireless which was overloaded with many folks at work.

imageStore Option

imageOnce you connect and set it up then you see the above screen. Of course you can manage multiple devices from here.

imageOnce you login, you see a lot of the same information as you saw in Part 1.

imageYou can see the Live stream as shown here; and what might not be obvious that it is both sound and video which is streamed. In this screenshot you can see my (work) login screen, with the password login being a Hologram. Here it is ‘floating’ over the window, and you can see a flavor of the mixed reality.

imageAs you can expect, you can capture either a photo or a video on what is being seen via the Device.

imageThe photos or videos that you do take, show up here. I suppose they are saved on the device and you would want to take it off there.

imageThe virtual keyboard again I think is one of the best features – saving so much time air-tapping and the arms. Smile

imageApp manager can do some elements of management, but not as much as the web version.

imageAnd finally, you can see some details on the device. I think the Shutdown and Reboot options are probably the one which are more useful.

All in all, this is a little more polished and end-user friendly. Useful when demo’ing the mixed reality solutions you are building.

HoloLens–Device Portal (Part 1)

One of the advantages of running Windows 10 on the HoloLens is that it has all the regular features that you would expect. From a developers perspective, one of those being the Device Portal which is awesome. It is essentially a web server that is being hosted on the machine, and allows you to manage your device over Wifi and USB.

It is a must have if you want to stream your apps (including Holograms) so that others can see it, or alternatively you can record and then share. And of course there are details for various debug situations and the Virtual input saves your fingers from getting tired! Smile You also use this to side load the apps you built. There are REST APIs you could use if you want to program, and there is also a UAP app on the store (more on that in part 2).

To get to this, you browse to the IP address. Below are a few screenshots from my playing around which shows you the various aspects of the portal and what all you can do. And the beauty of this is, as a Windows developer, this all should be very familiar and nothing new. Smile

imageHome Screen – once you login

image3D View Settings

imageMixed reality capture – one of the key elements that lets you share the magic with others

imagePerf Tracing and the various levels you can set as part of Windows Performance Toolkit. This is WPR/WPA support in Systems.Diagnostics.Tracing – see this post for more details.

imageProcess details and you can sort by the relevant column.

imageProcess details #1 – showing various details from Power to Framerate to IO, Memory, etc..

imageProcess details #2

imageProcess details #3

imageApp Manager which is where you side-load apps and manage them

imageCrash Data – the name says it all

imageKiosk Mode – this is really interesting; you can ‘lock’ into one app and use that. I wonder how one breaks out of it when done being in this mode and wanting to get back to ‘regular’.

image

imageAll the ETW (Event tracing for Windows) details and the providers you can want. Again pretty standard stuff.

imageSimulation – not sure if this is used for regression or playback in another setting – where the room capture would help. Does open up interesting possibilities. I think it might allow one to capture the spatial mapping of a room, which then you might be able to use in the emulator (such as someone has done here).

imageNetworking Configuration where you go and manage this.

imageVirtual Input – a great time saver.

imageAnd finally some of the security settings to ensure no one on the same subnet is mucking with you; or when there is more than one device then you talking to the right one.