Tag Archives: ibm

On Pepper and Watson


If you have even a passing knowledge of IT, you likely have heard of Pepper and Watson. Pepper was a robot and Watson was an AI system that won at Jeopardy. Last week the Verge and the New York Times had articles on them both:

  1. Go read how Pepper was a very bad robot – The Verge
  2. What Ever Happened to IBM’s Watson? – The New York Times

I don’t have any specific insights or conclusions into either technology, other than trite summations like “cutting edge technology is hard” and “don’t believe the hype”. AI and robotics are especially hard, so the risks are high and the chances of failure are high. That comes across in these two pieces.

Companies from Tesla to Boston Dynamics and more are making grand claims about their AI and their robotics. I suspect much of it will suffer the same fate as Pepper and Watson. Like all failure, none of it is final or fatal. People learn from their mistakes and move on to make better things. AI and robotics will continue to advance…just not at the pace many would like it too.

In the meantime, go read those articles.  Especially if you are finding yourself falling for the hype.

(Image: link of image on The Verge)

What I find interesting in tech, May/June 2021

Here’s what I found interesting lately in tech, from cloud to coding and lots more.

Cloud: I’ve been doing lots of work on Azure recently. Some things I found useful were this listing of Virtual machine sizes Also disk types. This piece on how to expand your virtual hard disks on a Linux VM was good. If you want to run Websphere on Azure, read this: Run WebSphere Application Server on Azure Virtual Machines.  If you want to learn more about deploying applications in Red Hat, read this. Finally here’s some good stuff from IBM on
Cloud Architectures.

Coding: If you want to print coloured text in Python — and who wouldn’t? — this is good. If you want to turn your HTML into an RSS feed, read this.  This will help you set up VS Code to do PHP Development. For people wanting to learn more about machine learning, IBM can help you. If you love Prolog or Javascript — or both! — check out: Tau-Prolog

Raspberry Pi/IOT: This is a great guide on how to troubleshoot problems with a Pi. This is a cool project using an OLED to make a clicker counter. If you need to load an OS or anything else on a Flash card, check out balenaEtcher. Here’s some advice on getting started with Bluetooth Low Energy. If you want to connect a raw serial terminal to a bluetooth connection, read that. If you want to do a cool Raspberry Pi Pico project with a MIDI, see this.

Fun and cool: Not a real Captcha, but a real fun one! DOOM Captcha – Captchas don’t have to be boring. Also fun: Crappy robots, ranked!. As an old user of 3270s, this downloadable version of 3270 fonts is awesome. Speaking of cool, here’s kinda the source code for Eliza! Check it out.

Other: Here’s some help on how to control smart home devices using speakers and displays. Here’s a good reminder that robots have a way to go yet: Peanut the Waiter Robot Is Proof That Your Job Is Safe. Developers! Here’s What’s Hot/What’s Not in terms of skills. Finally, have you considered how to
write software that lasts 50 years?

(Image via Raspberry Pi)

How to spot a really old IBMer


Here’s a good list, albeit from a decade ago: How to spot an old IBMer. There’s fewer such IBMers any more that recognize those terms, but no doubt there are still a few. Ahem.

P.S. From this blog, which is still current and great: Aussie Storage Blog

P.S.S. Another way you can spot one is if he ever used the computer above. I have! Via Reddit.

Two good pieces addressing racial inequality in tech


Here are two good pieces addressing racial inequality in tech

  1. If Toronto wants to be a global tech hub, it needs to nurture Black talent | TVO.org
  2. Racial Justice Open Source Projects – Call for Code for Racial Justice – IBM Developer

In my humble and limited opinion, tech has many gaps when it comes to who works in the industry, especially when it comes to women and when it comes to black and indigenous people. Any efforts to address these gaps are a good thing.

(Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash)

It’s my IBM Anniversary

Every October 3rd I mark my anniversary starting working at IBM. Back then, I took a 1 hour commute via the “Red Rocket” to 245 Consumers Road in Willowdale (now Toronto) to start work in the tape library (which looked a lot like the photo above).

What else was happening with IBM back then? Only the advent of the IBM PC. Here’s a story on it here.

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The designer of the barcode (i.e. Universal Product Code (UPC)) Designer George Laurer has died

It’s iconic and feels like it’s been around forever, but the UPC is a fairly new invention. The inventor, George Laurer, worked for IBM and invented it in the 1970s. There’s a good write up on him and his invention, here: Universal Product Code Designer George Laurer Dies At 94 : NPR.

While IBM has been associated with many IT innovations, this one particular one likely touches more people’s lives than any other.

For more on how to read UPCs, and to appreciate just how much information is packed into one, go here.

A dozen good pieces on Kubernetes


Here’s twelve articles on Kubernetes, from introductory to advanced.

Some introductory pieces on getting started with Kubernetes:

  1. Getting Started with Kubernetes: Deploy a Docker Container with Kubernetes in 5 minutes
  2. Deploy a Python Flask application in Kubernetes – IBM Developer
  3. Play with Kubernetes Classroom
  4. Three quick ways to start with Kubernetes – Katsuhi
  5. How to deploy a NodeJS app to Kubernetes | Sean McGary
  6. A Kubernetes quick start for people who know just enough about Docker to get by

Some good tutorials from IBM:

  1. Kubernetes Tutorials: 5 Ways to Get You Building Fast | IBM
  2. Learning Path: Kubernetes – IBM Developer

Some harder pieces for if you are already well versed with Kubernetes:

  1. Kubernetes 202 — Making It Fully Operational – uptime 99 – Medium
  2. Kubernetes NodePort vs LoadBalancer vs Ingress? When should I use what?
  3. Kubernetes On Bare Metal

(Image from pexels.com)

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How machine learning (ML) is different from artificial intelligence (AI)

I am glad to see more articles highlighting the difference between ML and AI. For example, this one: How machine learning is different from artificial intelligence – IBM Developer.

There is still lots to be done in the field of machine learning, but I think technologists and scientists need to break out of that tight circle and explore AI in general.

(Image: from the article)

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How to get up to speed really quickly on Kubernetes and Docker if you are an infrastructure specialist

If you are an infrastructure person and you are trying to ramp up really quickly on Docker and Kubernetes, here are some good links to get you started:

I also have this repo on github that can help.

Is this the last word? Good lord, no. But it can help you stay in the conversation and helps you map all this stuff to networks and processes and files and VMs and services and other tech you are used to.

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My last work project…

is written up, here:  ATB Financial, IBM partnership focuses on digital transformation in banking | IT Business. 

It was a great project, with a great team, a great client, and a great working environment. All around great. I am glad I had the opportunity to do it.

Blockchain 101

IBM (my employer) has a great page that will get you up to speed on Blockchain. If you are interested in Bitcoin, crytocurrency, or just hot areas in IT, then you want to visit:  What is blockchain? – IBM Blockchain

Two additions to my github repositories: one for IBM Watson, one for monitoring Linux systems

I’ve recently added two repos to my github account:

The first one is some proof of concept code I wrote to demonstrate how to work with IBM Watson’s Tradeoff Analytics service using node.js

The second one is some sample code I have had for some time that does simple server monitoring of a Linux server.

There is no intellectual property involved in these repos: it is simple code based on documented code samples found in many places on the web.

For more details, see my Github landing page, here: blm849 (Bernie Michalik)

Two initiatives IBM is promoting for women of all ages

On this page IBM & Open Source for the Enterprise Developer, there is alot happening, but I want to highlight two things that IBM is doing.

First, IBM is

…partnering with Girls Who Code to promote gender diversity in software development. This summer, we’re hosting a seven-week immersion program for dozens of female high school students in New York City. In 2016, we’re taking it across the country.

And second:

We’re also working with GSVlabs to help women return to work in greater numbers than ever before by offering mentorship and placement programs after multi-year sabbaticals. In focusing on cloud development, IBM hopes to attract women back to the workforce with a new set of skills.

Two worthwhile initiatives, I believe.

Want to learn node.js? Here’s some great tutorials

Node.js is a hot topic and technology. If you want to see some good tutorials on it to help you learn, I recommend this, from developerWorks: Learn node.js development from these top Bluemix guides.

Want to learn more about Hadoop for free?

Here’s a place you can start: Hadoop For Dummies.
. IBM (my employer) is providing it. Once you get through this, there are lots of places online and in bookstores to get more information. But this is a good place to start.

Git 201: how to get to the next level with git


There are quite a few really good introductions to git. I’ve written about them here. Once you get past “git 101”, where do you go to learn more and be more productive with git? I’d like to recommend this article:
developerWorks: Learn the workings of Git, not just the commands. It should help you get to the next level. I particularly like the diagrams: there are alot of them, and they help you better understand the flow that can occur when you really start capitalizing on git.

How IBM SoftLayer’s Private Network works (technical, obvs)

Many clients ask about this, and there is often confusion over the private aspect of the network. Confused or not, a good place to get clarification is here: Private Network | SoftLayer Blog.

Here’s a representation of the networking layout (you can get a bigger version of it at the SoftLayer blog):

A simple example of how to set up a PHP-MySQL application in IBM Bluemix (including the code you need)

While PHP is not one of the standard runtimes provided in the Bluemix catalog, the sample code in this git repo (
https://hub.jazz.net/git/u27275/blm-hello-world-php/) will show you how to bring your own buildpack, and this buildpack will allow you to have PHP code running in Bluemix that also can talk to a MySQL database running in Bluemix.

Among the files there is a PDF providing detailed instructions on how to set things up in IBM Bluemix.

P.S. This is sample code.  See the licence file in the repo for more details.

How to set up Kanboard (a visual task board inspired by Kanban) on the IBM Bluemix platform

It is very easy to set up Kanboard on Bluemix, IBM’s PaaS solution. (For those of you not familiar with Kanboard, it it a visual task board inspired by Kanban). I encourage you to visit the Kanboard site for more information. 
 
Meanwhile, to set up Kanboard in Bluemix, I took the following steps, some which are optional:
 
1) Download the kanboard code from here: http://kanboard.net/downloads
2) Unzip the kanboard folder.
3) (Optional) Copy the kanboard folder into a local test environment. I had a Xampp test environment and I put the kanboard there. (e.g., C:\xampp\htdocs\kanboard). I started Apache and then pointed my browser at http://localhost/kanboard to see it working. (One of the benefits of doing this is I can configure the Kanboard environment before I push it into Bluemix. In my case, I created some new users, changed the admin password, and added some default tasks. If I push this folder, these changes will also show up in Bluemix.)
4) I had a copy of the Cloud Foundary executable (cf.exe) to push the code into Bluemix: I put the cf.exe file in the Kanboard folder.
5) I created a manifest.yml file in the Kanboard folder. In my manifest.yml file I had the following 
 

applications:
– name: <my app name>
  memory: 256M
  instances: 1
  host: <my host name>
  buildpack: https://github.com/zendtech/zend-server-php-buildpack.git
 
You can make the name and host name anything, though the hostname is part of the URL for the site, so it must be acceptible as part of a URL. Also the hostname needs to be unique in Bluemix. I tend to make the app and host name the same.
 
Open a command window, and from the Kanboard folder, enter the following commands:
  1. cf api https://api.ng.bluemix.net
  2. cf login -u <your Bluemix login account>
  3. cf target -o <your Bluemix login account> -s dev
  4. cf push
Once you see that the health and status for the app is “OK”, you can either go to Bluemix to check it out, or go directly to  the url: http://<hostname>.mybluemix.net/
You should be able to login and proceed to use it. (The default userid and password is here).

A good list of Bluemix benefits here

I highly recommend this post on the top five benefits of Bluemix for anyone considering using PaaS, Bluemix, or cloud technologies in general.

Bon Appetit teams up with IBM’s Watson for some great summer recipes, like these ribs



The story of IBM and Bon Appetit
is really interesting to me, since I love food and I am proud of the work IBM is doing with Watson. Anyone interested in the topic of innovation in IT or food should find it worth a read.

For people who aren’t interested in the high tech aspect of it, check out the recipes. In particular, these ribs with a range of flavours from bourbon to oyster sauce look fantastic.

Who will be the big losers in the recent price drops in cloud computing?

Over at The Motley Fool, there is this article, The Big Losers in the Cloud Pricing Wars, that talks about recent price drops for services at Amazon and Google and how these price drops will affect the cloud computing business. (The Cloud Pricing Wars is very dramatic – I am not sure it is an all out battle at this point: we need more time to see if that becomes the case)

Anyone interested in cloud computing should check it out.

My favourite IBMer is the Cookie Monster

From the technologizer blog is the story of how Jim Henson made quite a few short films with some familiar faces before he went on to make Sesame Street and The Muppet Show. They were made between 1966 and 1976, and include such classics as this:

(Note the teeth: a feature dropped later on.)

For more videos and more on this story, check out the blog.

(Video: Cookie Monster for IBM – YouTube)