Wednesday, December 5, 2012

When technology changes your life!

Last week, I wrote about how technology can make you mad!

Last weekend, I was also watching TV, and saw something amazing that I had to write about! It is an amazing application of technology  - an innovation that is hard to conceive due to its simplicity!

Technology rocks!

Watching Dr. Sanjay Gupta's The Next List, I was riveted to hear about Max Little, a genius mathematician from the U.K. He is responsible for what I consider an amazing medical innovation.

Max Little is not a doctor, he's a mathematician. A really smart mathematician!

Max applied audio analysis techniques to create a test of a 10-second "aaah" recording to detect Parkinsons - with 99% accuracy!

The muscles of the vocal chords are impacted just like other muscles in the body due to Parkinsons. Vocal aberrations (possibly imperceptible to the human ear) can be detected by audio analysis. Important - this can likely happen even before the more obvious symptoms kick in! Early detection.

Not only is it an almost 0-cost, consumer-friendly way (call on the phone?) to test for presence of the symptoms of the disease, it is also likely the only tangible, metrics-driven way to track the progression of the condition!

The idea makes sense ... now! But conceiving it, and actually getting it to work in this domain is as out-of-the-box as it gets!!

As out-of-the-voice-box, I mean!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

When technology makes you upset!

A lot of people were upset when Apple's maps sent them to the wrong place. This became such an issue that it led to Apple apologizing, and eventually, folks lost their jobs over it!

Now, this happened because technology did not work!

Here's an example of when technology worked (as (poorly?) designed) but upset me. I'm not livid, but I'm definitely not pleased with the situation.

If you are able to see my new profile in LinkedIn (you may need to sign in), you'll see nice little logos beside each of my career stints. Cool, except that I was stunned to see the Autonomy logo beside my entry for Verity. The LinkedIn engineers probably feel very good that they are able to automagically divine that Verity is now a part of Autonomy. Now, why hasn't the logo already updated to the HP logo? Of course, ... a bug! Ideally, they'd have identified date ranges as important for this specific association!

Now, anyone who knows me knows my negativity towards Autonomy. Here's a blog post I'd written after Autonomy acquired Verity in November, 2005. I was not very pleased with how it went. Others felt the same way. It felt wrong!

Luckily, I'd already moved by then (I had joined Yahoo!), so I did not have to work for Autonomy. I could not!

Since then, I've heard lots of stories of how badly Autonomy treated its employees, especially my ex-colleagues from Verity -  that definitely left a very bad taste in my mouth about the company. In fact, to be very honest, the only reason I have an allergic reaction to the Tottenham Hotspurs is because they wear the A logo on their jerseys.

Call me juvenile! I'm fine with that!

Now, Autonomy is embroiled in a deep controversy about cooking its numbers for HP.  Now, ironically, technology has associated my name with a company I've never been a fan of, and worked hard to beat. Double irony! HP could technically use Autonomy software to target Autonomy execs.

I wish the LinkedIn technology had failed in this case!