Archive for the ‘Software News’ category

Siemens gifts engineering school $30 million worth of software

March 5th, 2015

GW’s engineering students will now have access to some of the top software in its field, thanks to a collaboration with Siemens.

The partnership will give students in the School of Engineering and Applied Science access to $30 million worth of software and is the first phase of a multi-phase partnership with the University.

“Obviously a lot of the work that’s done these days requires sophisticated software,” University President Steven Knapp said in an interview. “Siemens is really at the forefront of a lot of advanced manufacturing technology.”

The product lifecycle management software, which is already available at universities across the country, will allow students to work with programs they otherwise wouldn’t have experience with until after graduation.

Matt Bruce, an academic director of Americas Velocity Program for Siemens’ product lifecycle management, said students will be able to use the software for projects like creating 3D state-of-the-art models.

He added that students enrolled in programs at the Virginia Science and Technology Campus and the School of Medicine and Health Sciences will be able to use the software for collaborative projects with students at SEAS.

“Delivering the industry’s most advanced product lifecycle management technology, Siemens product lifecycle management software provides students with the skills, knowledge and experience required to stand out in today’s highly competitive economy, and better prepare them for entering the workforce,” he said.

The announcement was made during the grand opening of the Science and Engineering Hall. The $275 million complex, which has been in the works for more than a decade, opened for classes in January and houses 118 faculty from GW’s engineering and science departments.

Funding for the building changed after administrators revealed earlier this year that plans to pay for the space using government subsidies and donations fell through. The complex will now be paid from solely from income from the University’s The Avenue property.

Board of Trustees Chairman Nelson Carbonell thanked all of those who helped to open the Science and Engineering Hall, but asked them to continue to support the building through the years.

“All of use here collectively feel responsible for making this a success but I wanted to call on each and every one of you as individuals to do your part,” he said. “If each of us take on that responsibility then each of our efforts to get here will be worth while.”


Stephen Wolfram writes nifty IoT data store for his nifty software stack

March 5th, 2015

One of the challenges associated with the internet of things is figuring out where to put all that data. If you have dozens of connected devices talking to the cloud (and that is a big if) you’ve got to think about where that data lives, how to normalize it and how to grant others access to it so it becomes useful. Stephen Wolfram, the creator of Mathematica and the Wolfram Alpha search engine, on Wednesday introduced his version of a solution to this problem, called the Wolfram Data Drop.

In simple terms, the Wolfram Data Drop is a repository for data sent from a variety of devices such as Raspberry Pis, Arduinos, Electric Imps or other devices that are pointing at the Data Drop via a few lines of code. In this way, the service reminds me of other data repositories from the sophisticated, like IBM’s IoT Foundation service, to the more rudimentary such as Dweet and Freeboard. You point your device at a cloud and your data shows up there. From that point on, you can grant other services the chance to see and use that data.

What makes the Wolfram Data Drop so much more interesting is how it ties in with the other Wolfram services such as Wolfram Language or the Wolfram Data Framework. In a blog post discussing the Wolfram Data Drop Stephen Wolfram discusses how his eponymous services work together to make the data coming in from sensors work easily with the pictorial symbols in the language.

He also explains how data put into the Data Drop is saved using the Wolfram Data Framework (WDF), which means all the gets saved with symbols that dictate how the data should be interpreted.

Here’s an important thing: notice that when we got data from the databin, it came with units attached. That’s an example of a crucial feature of the Wolfram Data Drop: it doesn’t just store raw data, it stores data that has real meaning attached to it, so it can be unambiguously understood wherever it’s going to be used. … And every databin in the Wolfram Data Drop can use WDF to define a “data semantics signature” that specifies how its data should be interpreted—and also how our automatic importing and natural language understanding system should process new raw data that comes in.The beauty of all this is that once data is in the Wolfram Data Drop, it becomes both universally interpretable and universally accessible, to the Wolfram Language and to any system that uses the language.

And while Wolfram is much easier to understand when he’s offering examples instead of making up words like databin and naming ever more bits of services and features after himself, the concepts here are very powerful. Anyone who has ever used the Wolfram Alpha search engine will walk away impressed with the service even if they don’t understand the underlying technology.

The downside, however, is that all of these services fit together like a jigsaw puzzle, and it’s unclear how useful the Wolfram Data Drop is without the use of the Wolfram Language to manipulate the data in it. Although the coolness of the stuff you can do with the data — from assembling heat maps based on image data over time with a simple command, to assembling histograms with time series data — seems almost worth the lock in.

The basic Data Drop service is free and users can create open or private options. Eventually you can run a Data Drop on the Wolfram Cloud or on your own internal cloud. I assume you will have to pay for some of these options and perhaps for privacy and more storage.

The beta service is available for folks to start playing with, and Wolfram writes in his blog post that already some connected devices companies are playing with the services so they don’t have to worry about building their own back-end software and cloud platforms. As he writes:

As throughout the Wolfram Language, it’s really a story of automation: the Wolfram Data Drop automates away lots of messiness that’s been associated with collecting and processing actual data from real-world sources. And the result for me is that it’s suddenly realistic for anyone to collect and analyze all sorts of data themselves, without getting any special systems built. For example, last weekend, I ended up using the Wolfram Data Drop to aggregate performance data on our cloud. Normally this would be a complex and messy task that I wouldn’t even consider doing myself. But with the Data Drop, it took me only minutes to set up—and, as it happens, gave me some really interesting results.

Wolfram’s enthusiasm makes the Data Drop sounds far cooler than IBM’s similar efforts or even those from other players, but essentially what is happening is a sea change in automation and it is exciting. Being able to grab real-world data, transfer it up to the cloud (or an on-premise hub) for analysis and immediate visualization) is a powerful tool that’s changing the way factory floors are run, data centers are operated and even how homemade whiskey is distilled. For more on this and other IoT related data topics check out our Structure Data event on March 18 and 19 in New York City, where Amazon’s Matt Woods will actually talk about building infrastructure for the internet of things.


AP will use software to write NCAA game stories

March 5th, 2015

Automated Insights, a company that provides language generation software to The Associated Press and other organizations, announced Wednesday the news cooperative will use the software to produce thousands of stories about collegiate sports.

The Associated Press will begin publishing automatically generated sports stories this spring, beginning with Division I baseball, according to a press release.

This new partnership will allow AP to cover more college sports of interest to our members and their audiences,” said Barry Bedlan, AP’s deputy director of sports products. “This will mean thousands of more stories on the AP wire, which will remain unmatched in the industry. Every college sports town will have some level of coverage.

The Associated Press has been using Automated Insights software to generate earnings reports stories since July. As a result, The AP was able to produce ten times as many stories about earnings reports with “far fewer errors.”

In February, Automated Insights was acquired by Vista Equity Partners, which also owns sports data company STATS LLC. When the company announced its acquisition, CEO Robbie Allen told Poynter the company would increasingly focus on automating sports coverage.

“Much like what we did for the AP around earning reports, I think most if not all of sporting events coverage, at least in terms of writing previews of events and recaps, should be automated to some degree,” Allen told Poynter.

Correction: A previous version of this story said The Associated Press would begin producing automated basketball stories first. In fact, it will initially use the software to produce baseball stories.


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