Zoom Into Deep Learning Technology

Facebook moves towards being more than just your social graph center, Pinterest wants to be more than a image social-sharing site. More Google than Facebook, even though Facebook seems to want to be Google sometimes.

Pinterest has more than 100 million users and was the early leader in having people share images and tag and categorize them for others to find.

But what if you see something you're interested in on Pinterest, but you don’t know how to find it in real life, or you don't even what that item is called. Examples that Pinterest gives on their blog are that "perfect lamp hiding in a Pin of someone’s living room, or maybe a random street style shot with the exact shoes you’re looking for."

Unlike Facebook's similar technology, Pinterest is not looking to recognize people/faces. This is all about things.

If you see something in a Pin that you want to learn more about, you tap the search tool in the corner, select the part you’re interested in and it will go to other Pins just like it.

The obvious monetizing aspect to this is to allow you to zoom in on that lamp, find out its name and where you can buy it. 

Pinterest's fledgling visual search engine (it calls it “a discovery engine”) pushes us further towards the our visual interactions with devices and perhaps with the world. 

I do like that Michael Lopp, Pinterest’s head of engineering, has said that “This is building serendipity,” 

For the near future, I would expect this new feature to help Pinterest sell advertising via the 50 billion images/pins on the site. They have only indexed about a billion of those images so far. 

But what else might this technology be used for? Does it have educational applications?

Stemming the STEM Gap, But Softly

Einstein says

There has been more than $750 million in recent years from tech companies to try to help schools bridge the long-acknowledged STEM skills gap. Much of that money was earmarked for what we would term IT. And though I much prefer STEAM (with an arts and digital humanities inclusion) to STEM, most people in any of those areas would probably agree that the gap hasn't narrowed and may have widened. 

Reports say that  33% of American workers are not proficient in the technology required to do their job, and only a tenth of workers believe they have mastered their workplace tech tools. 

new report claims that we are still a long way from being able to adapt technology to the classroom and that the link between having more technology and better learning is not a direct one.

It is not news to say that we  don't know exactly what skills students will need to know to succeed in their future. I have heard a half dozen presentations that discuss the idea that the jobs of the near future for high school and college graduates will require skills that only 20% of workers today might have.

All these reports and studies are focused on "hard skills." These skills, like coding, are more tangible and easier to measure than some of the "soft" skills that sometimes allow someone to get a job despite having a hard skills gap.

It is not that education has forgotten about problem solving and being able to learn new things as needed or being able to produce solutions to problems that were never covered in class or in the textbook. But in many cases, the refocusing on the hard skills gap may have widened the soft skills gap.

We frequently champion and applaud innovators and creativity, but we know that those things are difficult to measure and so sometimes more difficult to "sell." It may be that having those soft skills is exactly what is needed by new workers who are required to acquire new hard skills on the job.

Browser Wars: 2015 Edition

Mashable reports that Mozilla, the company behind the web browser Firefox, is accusing Microsoft of discouraging users from changing default applications in Windows 10 because it has changed the way to set preferred applications for Internet browsing, calendar and other apps.

The process is a bit longer than before. For example, in previous versions of Windows you were asked what browser you wanted to be the default the first time you use a browser different from the built-in one. One click of yes or no was all you had to do.

In Windows 10, if you click yes, you’re taken to a settings page where you’ll have to manually designate a different browser as default.

I don't see it as a major headache, as even this Mozilla video explaining how to do it makes it seem pretty straightforward.

Still, it is not as simple or obvious as before and it might cause some people to just leave the default as Microsoft's browser. This was a big issue back in the early days of the browser wars when Microsoft was pushing Internet Explorer on every machine that went out with Windows on it. Microsoft's new Edge browser launches with Windows 10 and they obviously want people using their own apps rather than third party alternatives.

Mozilla is a nonprofit which promotes free open-source programs on the web, so the two companies core missions are not very similar.

Is Windows 10 the Final Version of Windows?

A few thoughts about Windows 10.  Microsoft wants to make Windows 10 a device-agnostic platform that could be reinvented whenever and however the company wanted on any given day. CEO Satya Nadella said,"It’s not just another release of Windows, it’s the beginning of a new era."

Windows 10 is delivered as a service and is automatically updated with new features and security updates.

Think of this operating system not as a new release but as the final release. 10 will just keep evolving. Not that someone won't have to keep track of versions. What version of Amazon.com are you using? Right. You don't know and you don't care.

Should we think of it more like Google Chrome which stopped back in 2010 from pushing updates every few months to releasing them every six weeks and fixes could be updated whenever they were ready.

Microsoft wants 10 to be a universal operating system. One experience across PCs, tablets, phones and many other devices like Raspberry Pi, Xbox One, and their HoloLens. Microsoft says they are testing more than 2,000 devices for compatibility.

Can Microsoft deliver big updates without affecting Windows’ daily performance? There will still need to be times when it will  require Windows 10 to do an automatic restarts so that updates can take effect. 

Being that they can push updates and features to you, how often will those be things that you would NOT have chosen to download or update? Will you ever be able to reject a change?

What happens after my 1 year free trial of 10? Does Microsoft have me at their mercy? Can I go back?

For some nostalgic chuckles and grimaces, check out this Windows 95 commercial