IT Managed Services Provider Resource Recommendation Update on June 12, 2021

Question and Answer

Why is consumer ML/AI technology so “disembodied” compared to industrial mechanical/robotics projects?

The question of why robotics has not kept pace with machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) work in consumer electronics is an interesting one, and one that sheds light on where technology is apt to go in the future.

Different analysts will give different reasons for why robotics is not more prominent in the consumer markets. One suggestion is that the internet of things is a new phenomenon that will take time to evolve, where robotics will become part of that consumer model. Another compelling argument is that robotics is simply expensive for consumers – for instance, in recent weeks, a company called UBTECH announced the market debut of the “Lynx” robot containing Amazon’s Alexa AI platform. The fact that consumers are not flocking to store aisles to purchase Lynx, combined with its retail price of $800, provides an excellent example of why a lack of robotics is a result of a general lack of consumer demand.

However, this can’t fully explain the current lack of consumer robotics products on the market. Products like Roomba, an autonomous vacuum cleaner, have been popular for years, and network connectivity along with artificial intelligence progress mean tomorrow’s robots can be smarter, more agile and more capable. Some sources suggest that there is actually due to be a real boom in consumer robotics – for instance, a Robo Global article from August of 2016 encourages investors to become involved in what writers understand to be an industry that’s headed toward rapid growth.

Another way to understand this is to contrast the consumer market with robotics in business technology. Industrial systems often use robotic installations equipped with cutting-edge artificial intelligence capabilities, or at least smart mechanical systems with machine-to-machine communication and data capture setups. One evident difference is that the main role of technology in industrial settings is to manufacture and produce products, where the main role of technology in the consumer world is to enable communications and enhance personal experience. However, there is a good case to be made that consumer robots are coming our way sooner rather than later.

Knowledge of terms to know

What is Hand Coding?

Hand coding involves writing functional code or layout directions in the basic languages in which they are compiled. The alternative is to use various kinds of tools to implement coding conventions without having to hand code them in the original languages.

To understand the idea of hand coding, it is necessary to understand how computer programming evolved over the last 30 years. In the earliest years of programming, languages like Basic and Fortran were always hand coded. Users did not have elaborate programs that would allow them to code in an automated manner.

Eventually, with Windows-based computing and other advances, tech companies evolved products that could automate some kinds of hand coding for either programming or layout purposes. One of the main examples is the wide spectrum of tools that allow users to avoid hand coding HTML, the underlying language for a lot of Web source code. Actual HTML commands are syntactically complex and challenging for many people. Companies created tools that would allow users to visually lay out Web pages instead of hand coding the HTML, or in other words, writing out all of the HTML layout or actions.

Other kinds of tools helping people to avoid hand coding are sometimes called what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) editors. The idea here is that the display mimics the eventual result, hiding the actual hand coding from the person who is doing the layout. In the coding world, some tools allow for automated coding, but hand coding is still a major part of what programmers do on a regular basis. Many professionals would not want to abstract the coding process too much, because he could get in the way of understanding and reading code as it is written. For example, MS Visual Basic includes visual forms for windows, text boxes and more, but the fundamental code is still visible in clickable windows and menu options, so that programmers still have to hand code the functionality of these devices.

What is Programming Logic?

Programming logic is a fundamental construct that’s applied to computer science in a variety of comprehensive ways.

Programming logic involves logical operations on hard data that works according to logical principles and quantifiable results.

The term programming logic has its roots in the advancement of computer science. Programming logic started only with ‘hard and fast logic’ compiled into sophisticated algorithms and expressed in programming languages like Prolog.

Basic computers developed ways to deal with numbers and logical states, applying specific operators that lead to precise results.

The important distinction here is that programming logic, and logic in general, is fundamentally set against other kinds of programming that are not built on hard logic or quantifiable states and results.

For example, modal logic by its nature is set against the theoretical quantum operations that don’t provide a specific set state that computers can apply logic to.

Programming logic in general rests on a foundation of computational logic that is shared by both humans and machines, which is what we explore as we continue to interact with new technologies. With that in mind, one could develop more specific definitions of a programming logic having to do with the basis of a piece of code.

What is Digital Asset?

A digital asset is any text or media that is formatted into a binary source and includes the right to use it; digital files that do not include this right are not considered digital assets. Digital assets are categorized into images and multimedia, called media assets, and textual content.

Digital assets are files that continue to exist as technology progresses regardless of the device where the digital asset is stored or created. Distinguishing and defining the various types of digital assets can help in digital assets management. As conventional broadcast, print and graphic assets are gradually transformed into an advanced digital form, digital assets are becoming increasingly important, leading to growth in the digital asset management industry. Big corporations like Oracle, Microsoft, Apple and many others are consistently growing their enterprise to provide third-party digital asset management through Web-based repositories.

What is Heuristic Programming?

Heuristic programming approaches the idea of artificial intelligence by solving problems using experience-based rules or protocols.

In general, the word ‘heuristic’ in computer science refers to a philosophy that is different from the quantifying, logic-driven computer processes that powered the advance of primitive computers in past decades.

Contrary to the principle of using strict algorithm-based computing, heuristics is in many key senses a shortcut to a quantified logic type of programming. Heuristic programming seeks to achieve a goal by substituting certain kinds of machine learning programs for logical algorithms.

Another way to say this is that while algorithms operate on known systems and logical principles, heuristic programming operates on a series of ‘intelligent guesses’ or informed operations that are not entirely based on hard numbers or hard data.

One example of a heuristic programming process is a program that will analyze the contents of a drive or file system. The logical program would search in a pre-programmed way, for example, alphabetically or in terms of recent data modification, where the heuristic programming system might be programmed to perform according to past searches that a user originated.

Here, the machine is learning from the user. Another good example of heuristic programming is in the use of natural language processing tools. In addition to sophisticated algorithms, many of these programs are using machine learning or heuristic programming principles, where the program analyzes past input from the user and factors it into the core processes that provide results.

What is Extreme Programming (XP)?

Extreme Programming (XP) is an intense, disciplined and agile software development methodology focusing on coding within each software development life cycle (SDLC) stage. These stages are: Continuous integration to discover and repair problems early in the development process Customer involvement and rapid feedback These XP methodology disciplines are derived from the following four key values of Kent Beck, XP’s originator: Communication: Communication between team members and customers must occur on a frequent basis and result in open project discussion without fear of reprisal. Simplicity: This involves using the simplest design, technology, algorithms and techniques to satisfy the customer’s needs for the current project iteration. Feedback: Feedback must be obtained at multiple, distinct levels, e.g., unit tests, code review and integration. Courage: Implement difficult but required decisions.

In addition to the key values, XP methodology implementation also requires the support of the three principles of incremental change, embracing change and quality work. Twelve key practices also must be followed: Some traditional methodology practitioners criticize XP as an “unreal” process causing reckless coding. Several traditional software developers find XP inflexible with low functionality and little creative potential. Additional criticisms are that XP: Has no structure. Lacks essential documentation. Has no clear deliverables, i.e., realistic estimates are difficult because the entire project requirement scope is not fully defined. (This lack of detailed requirements makes XP highly prone to scope creep.) Needs cultural change for adoption. (May work for senior developers only) Is costly, i.e., requires frequent communication/meeting at the customer’s expense, which may lead to difficult negotiations. Has possible inefficiency from frequent code changes within various iterations. Of course, as with any development methodology, all this is very subjective and dependant on personal preferences.

What is Natural Language Processing (NLP)?

Natural language processing (NLP) is a method to translate between computer and human languages. It is a method of getting a computer to understandably read a line of text without the computer being fed some sort of clue or calculation. In other words, NLP automates the translation process between computers and humans.

Traditionally, feeding statistics and models have been the method of choice for interpreting phrases. Recent advances in this area include voice recognition software, human language translation, information retrieval and artificial intelligence. There is difficulty in developing human language translation software because language is constantly changing. Natural language processing is also being developed to create human readable text and to translate between one human language and another. The ultimate goal of NLP is to build software that will analyze, understand and generate human languages naturally, enabling communication with a computer as if it were a human.

What is Asimov’s Three Laws Of Robotics?

Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics are an invention of this author first pioneered in his 1942 story “Runaround” and then incorporated into the “Robot” series and “Foundation” series of books that Asimov generated over a period of time from the 1950s to the 1980s. Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics are proscriptive rules governing what robots can and cannot do, according to a fairly complex logical moral code.

The Three Laws of Robotics can be found in Asimov’s 5-book “Robot” series of novels, and in some of the 38 short stories which the author wrote from 1950 to 1985. Another series, the “Foundation” series, began in the 1950s and finished in 1981.

Asimov’s Three Laws are as follows:

  • A robot may not injure a human being or allow a human to come to harm.
  • A robot must obey orders, unless they conflict with law number one.
  • A robot must protect its own existence, as long as those actions do not conflict with either the first or second law.

In many ways, Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics provide a kind of window into the digital age, in which robotics is now very real. Long before artificial intelligence became practical, Asimov anticipated some of its effects, and created this overall moral criteria to govern his fictional universe. In many ways, these ideas can provide guidance for the kinds of technologies likely to be generated throughout the 21st century.

What is Change Control?

Change control is a systematic approach to managing all changes made to a product or system. The purpose is to ensure that no unnecessary changes are made, all changes are documented, services are not unnecessarily disrupted and resources are used efficiently. Within information technology (IT), change control is a component of change management.

The change control process is usually conducted as a sequence of steps proceeding from the submission of a change request. Typical IT change requests include the addition of features to software applications, the installation of patches and upgrades to network equipment or systems.

Here’s an example of a six-step process for a software change request:

  • Documenting the change request. The client’s change request or proposal is categorized and recorded along with informal assessments of the importance of that change and the difficulty of implementing it.
  • Formal assessment. This step evaluates the justification for the change and the risks and benefits of making or not making the change. If the change request is accepted, a development team will be assigned. If the change request is rejected, that is documented and communicated to the client.
  • Planning. The team responsible for the change creates a detailed plan for its design and implementation, as well as for rolling back the change should it be deemed unsuccessful.
  • Designing and testing. The team designs the program for the software change and tests it. If the change is deemed successful, the team requests approval and implementation date.
  • Implementation and review. The team implements the program and stakeholders review the change.
  • Final assessment. If the client is satisfied with the implementation of the change, the change request is closed. If the client is not satisfied, the project is reassessed and steps may be repeated.

“Effective change control processes are critical for incorporating necessary changes, while ensuring they do not disrupt other project activities or delay progress.” – Wesley Chai

Related Terms: change request, IT procurement, change management, ITIL, IT project management

What is Spear Phishing?

Spear phishing is a variation on phishing in which hackers send emails to groups of people with specific common characteristics or other identifiers. Spear phishing emails appear to come from a trusted source but are designed to help hackers obtain trade secrets or other classified information.

The difference between spear phishing and a general phishing attempt is subtle. A regular phishing attempt appears to come from a large financial institution or social networking site. It works because, by definition, a large percentage of the population has an account with a company with huge market share.

In spear phishing, an email appears to come from an organization that is closer to the target, such as a particular company. The hacker’s goal is to gain access to trusted information. This is often as simple as looking up the name of a CEO from a corporate website and then sending what appears to be a message from the boss to email accounts on the corporate domain.

What is Soft Robotics?

Soft robotics is the subset of robotics that focuses on technologies that more closely resemble the physical characteristics of living organisms. Experts describe the soft robotics approach as a form of biomimicry in which the traditionally linear and somewhat stilted aspects of robotics are replaced by much more sophisticated models that imitate human, animal and plant life.

One of the easiest ways to describe soft robotics is to describe the traditional robot. The robot as portrayed decades before its current evolution was a set of boxes and tubes. Its surfaces were hard metal. It moved in very specific linear ways.

The soft robotics movement aims to transform that into a new type of robotics where robots look, act and feel like biological humans, animals or plants. One fundamental aspect of soft robotics is the creation of intricate, many-segmented units that can move in a more versatile way, for example, instead of a hard metal surface, a surface made up of tiny metal parts that can move like human skin. Soft robotics is being applied to many of the projects at the vanguard of the new robotics industry where robots are becoming more and more humanlike, as in the case of Sophia, a robot that received citizenship from the country of Saudi Arabia.

What is Digital experience (DX)?

Digital experience (DX), or digital user experience, is the take-away feeling an end user has after an experience in a digital environment. Traditionally, the digital user experience (UX) was the province of Web designers and Web content management.

Today, DX still refers to elements such as colors, layout, navigability and performance of a webpage — but in addition, it may also refer to elements such as how intuitive a page or mobile app is, how efficiently users can complete actions (how many clicks or swipes are required) or how well integrated an app or page is with other applications.

Accordingly, the scope of DX has broadened as the sophistication of online environments has grown and diversified beyond a webpage to encompass wearables as well as applications that incorporate virtual reality and augmented reality components. DX now has to encompass these many entities and also factor in usability from the perspective of a user having many devices and, possibly, multiple identities in his consumer and professional lives. Customer journey maps can play an important role in helping to evaluate digital user experience and understand a user’s motivation, point of entry and frustrations that impede engagement.

“As digital interactions continue to grow, so do the number of touchpoints across an organization, requiring the adoption of new channels and approaches to interacting with customers.” – Sandra Mathis

Related Terms: wearable technology, virtual reality, customer journey map, customer experience, customer experience management

What is Wearable Robot?

A wearable robot is a specific type of wearable device that is used to enhance a person’s motion and/or physical abilities.

Wearable robots are also known as bionic robots or exoskeletons.

One of the general principles of a wearable robot is that it involves physical hardware for assisting with human motion. Some models of wearable robots can help individuals to walk, which may be used for post-surgery or rehab purposes.

A particular characteristic of the wearable robot interface is that these pieces of hardware can be programmed in a variety of ways. Sensors or devices can take in verbal, behavioral or other input in order to facilitate specific types of movement. These kinds of resources represent an exciting application of new technology to medical use, where paralyzed or disabled individuals may benefit greatly from these wearable robots, which involve the junction of sophisticated new hardware, big data and wireless technologies.

What is Artificial Intelligence Robot (AIBO)?

Artificial Intelligence Robot or AIBO is a name for a Sony product developed as a robotic pet. Multiple instances of this product line are available in the United States, although they come with price tags of up to several thousand dollars. The AIBO uses an Open-R modular platform to create a life-like interface including voice recognition, machine learning and the ability to respond to stimulus.

The Sony AIBO was released in 1999, and is considered to be the most sophisticated robot ever offered to consumers. While the majority of AIBOs resembled dogs, different models were available as well. Despite the product’s popularity, it was discontinued in 2006, with all support ending in 2013. Sony cited lack of profitability as the reason for its discontinuation.

Along with the Sony AIBO products, the term “artificial intelligence robot” can be used to refer to a broad spectrum of robotic projects that generally aim to simulate human or animal life. Different types of artificial intelligence robots are being engineered that can hold conversations with humans, respond to body language, and perform various kinds of cognitive tasks. Many of these are also highly lifelike in appearance and built to actual human size. The phenomena of the artificial intelligence robot raises many questions about how we as people will interact with technologies in the future.

Free Tool

BorgBackup is an open-source deduplicating archiver that features compression and authenticated encryption for efficient storage of your backups.

Kimchi is an open-source HTML5-based KVM management tool that is designed for ease of use. This web-based virtualization management platform provides an intuitive, flexible interface that displays and provides control of all the VMs running on a system. Allows you to manage most of the basic features you need to create and control a set of guest virtual machines.

Openfire is a powerful instant messaging and groupchat server that combines easy setup and administration with solid security and performance. Uses the open-source extensible messaging and presence protocol (XMPP) real-time collaboration (RTC) server.

MeshCentral is a multi-platform, self-hosted, feature-packed website for remote device management. You can use the public, community server for free or install on your own server. The server and management agent run on Windows, Linux, MacOS and FreeBSD.

HESK is a basic, lightweight help desk tool with an integrated knowledgebase that helps customers quickly resolve some common issues on their own. Includes scripted responses, ticket templates, custom data fields and statuses and much more. Tickets can be prioritized and organized, and they include request details, your ongoing discussion with the customer, which staff member is assigned, notes, files, status and time spent on resolution. Staff accounts can be created with restrictions on access and functionality, and you can track who is working on what.

openDCIM is designed for simple, complete data-center asset tracking. Offers support for multiple rooms; management of space, power and cooling; basic contact management and integration into existing business directory via UserID; fault tolerance; computation of center of gravity for each cabinet; template management for devices (with ability to override per device); optional tracking of cable connections within each cabinet and for each switch device; archival functions for equipment sent to salvage/disposal; integration with intelligent power strips and UPS devices.

Otter allows you to easily run complex PowerShell and Shell scripts that provision servers and manage their configuration. The custom GUI includes templates that make it easy for users to develop complex, multi-server orchestrations regardless of programming expertise. Includes dashboards and reports that show the state of your infrastructure, permissions and installation status. Free version has no server limit and includes all features but gives all users unrestricted access.

AdminDroid is a free-for-MVPs-only reporting option that is more user-friendly than what you’ll find in the Office 365 Admin portal. It serves as a single tool to manage your entire Office 365 infrastructure, with advanced reporting capabilities such as scheduling, export, customizable reports, advanced filters and more.

Course

Python for Network Engineers is a free, 8-week course that is being offered again STARTING TODAY (Jun 1). It covers Python fundamentals but “with a network engineer’s bent.” The weekly lessons cover, in order: Why Python, the Python Interpreter Shell, and Strings; Numbers, Files, Lists, and Linters; Conditionals and Loops; Dictionaries, Exceptions, and Regular Expressions; Functions and the Python Debugger; Netmiko Basics; Jinja2 Basics, Introduction to YAML and JSON, Complex Data Structures; Libraries, Package Installation, and Virtual Environments. Uses Python3.

Neils running giveaway for Cisco CCNA Training and Exam Complete Package, including payment for Cisco CCNA exam entry (value $300), Neil Anderson CCNA Gold Bootcamp course (value $99), AlphaPrep Complete 240 Day Package practice tests (value $450), and Network Lessons Annual Membership (value $290).

Training Resource

flAWS Challenge is a fun way to learn about security issues to watch for with AWS and devops. A series of levels teach about how to avoid common mistakes as well as AWS-specific “gotchas.” Hints are provided that teach you how to discover what you need to know. If you’re in a hurry, you can just use the hints to go from one level to the next instead of playing along.

Podcast

Clear To Send is a weekly podcast on wireless engineering that covers WiFi technology, design tips, troubleshooting and tools. Features informative interviews with wireless engineers, tech news on the topic, and product information. batwing20 thinks you’ll like it… “if you are into wireless.”