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January 18, 2019
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Pritam Gupta - page 2

Pritam Gupta has 7040 articles published.

Google remains the top open-source contributor to CNCF projects

in cloud computing/cncf/Delhi/Developer/Google/India/Kubernetes/mirantis/open source/openstack/openstack foundation/Politics/TC by

According to the latest data from Stackalytics, a project founded by Mirantis and hosted by the OpenStack Foundation that visualizes a company’s contribution to open-source projects, Google remains the dominant force in the CNCF open-source ecosystem. Indeed, according to this data, Google is responsible for almost 53 percent of all code commits to CNCF projects. Red Hat, the second biggest contributor, is far behind, with 7.4 percent.

The CNCF is the home of Kubernetes, the extremely popular container orchestration service that Google open sourced, so the fact that Google is the top contributor may not seem like a major surprise. But according to this data, Google would still be the top code contributor to all CNCF projects without even taking Kubernetes into account. In part, that’s due to the fact that Google is also the major contributor to GRPC, a queuing project the company donated to the CNCF, and Vitess, the database clustering system it developed for YouTube.

There are still quite a few projects where Google isn’t the main contributor; 64 percent of contributions to Jaeger come from Uber, for example, and 84 percent of LinkerD code commits are from Buoyant engineers. What’s interesting here is that the report found there is only one project where there isn’t a vendor who contributes more than 40 percent, and that’s the Prometheus monitoring solution that was contributed to the CNCF by SoundCloud but which is now mostly maintained by independent developers Red Hat.

You may read those stats and argue that Google may be a bit too dominant a player in the CNCF ecosystem. Google, of course, doesn’t think so.

“Google has a long history of contribution to and respect for, contribution to open-source software. We love to give back,” said Aparna Sinha, Group Product Manager for GKE and Kubernetes, Google Cloud. “One top of mind example is Kubernetes, one of the fastest growing projects in the history of open source, and today has a thriving community and widespread industry support. Google has been at the heart of it all, as a constant driving force in the community and the broader CNCF. A key part of that momentum has been driven by Google’s deep commitment to the project’s success, whether it’s through providing extensive engineering expertise, code contribution and compute resources, or through project management, testing and documentation. We’re just as dedicated to the project as ever, and we’re excited to see the broader Kubernetes community begin to shape the project’s future and ensure its long-term success.”

It’s worth noting that the CNCF also publishes its own data through its DevStats tool, which tells a similar story, even though it doesn’t quite highlight Google’s dominance as a contributor. When I asked Mirantis co-founder and CMO Boris Renski about these discrepancies, he noted that Stackalytics focuses on commits, whereas the CNCF’s tool looks at contributions, which includes reviews, comments and created issues, among other things. Stackalytics also doesn’t take the CNCF’s sandbox projects into account, where Red Hat contributes quite a bit. The two tools also handle attributions differently, with DevStats attributing all former contributions from CoreOS to Red Hat after it was acquired by the company.

On Twitter, Renski suggested that the different organizations should merge their different data sources to do away with these discrepancies, but I’m not sure how well the CNCF and the OpenStack Foundation really play together these days.

News Source = techcrunch.com

How Lyft envisions bringing VR and AR to your ride

in Artificial Intelligence/Augmented Reality/Delhi/India/Lyft/Politics/TC/Transportation/Virtual Reality by

Lyft is exploring ways to integrate virtual reality and augmented reality into your Lyft rides, according to a couple of patent applications TechCrunch came across today.

The first, filed in July 2017, is for “providing a virtual reality transportation experience” that would respond to real-world forces and events that happen during your ride, like sudden stops, turn and bumps in the road. Over time, the VR system would be able to predict those bumps and turns in the road.

“For instance, the virtual reality transportation system accesses the historical information for each maneuver along the route and identifies previous inertial forces that transportation vehicles have experienced in the past for the same turns, merges, stops, etc,” the application states. “In some cases, the virtual reality transportation system determines (e.g., calculates) an average of each of the previous inertial forces for the maneuvers along the travel route to predict the inertial forces that the passenger will experience.”

From there, the VR system would generate a virtual experience with virtual interactions based on the real-world environment. Specifically, the VR system may include, “but are not necessarily limited to, virtual collisions with objects, virtual turns, virtual drops, etc.”  That sounds mildly horrifying, but it would definitely make for an unforgettable ride. Other ideas of virtual experiences feature a game with lasers and flying saucers.

During your ride, Lyft envisions passengers being able to share their VR experience with people in other cars, or those waiting for a pick-up.

This is likely possible in part thanks to Lyft’s acquisition of Blue Vision Labs, an augmented reality startup, last year. Blue Vision, for example, offers collaborative augmented reality to enable people to see the same spot in space.

Lyft’s other patent application, also filed in July, seeks to provide information to passengers using augmented reality. This one seems to be less about entertainment and more about practical information.

In one example, Lyft would generate virtual objects to overlay on a passenger’s real-world surroundings in order to help with the pick-up or drop-off process. Based on historical data, Lyft envisions identifying the ideal pickup location based on the passenger’s current location, traffic conditions and transportation restrictions.

TechCrunch has reached out to Lyft and will update this story if we hear back.

News Source = techcrunch.com

A look at Birdies, the popular slipper shoe startup that just raised $8 million more from investors

in Andy Dunn/Delhi/eCommerce/forerunner ventures/India/norwest venture partners/Politics/Priti Youssef Choksi/Recent Funding/slow ventures/TC/Venture Capital by

Bianca Gates is a first-generation American, her parents having immigrated to the U.S. from Latin America. As such, she says, after graduating from UC Irvine, she was expected to get a safe job with a 401(k) plan and to live with her parents until she was married.

Things haven’t gone exactly that way, but one can imagine Gates’s parents feeling pretty satisfied with their daughter’s trajectory nevertheless. The reason: Gates, along with cofounder Marisa Sharkey, are the cofounders of Birdies, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based footwear brand that has made it chic to step out in shoes like look like elegant slippers, and which just raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Norwest Venture Partners, with participation from Slow Ventures and earlier investor Forerunner Ventures.

Sure, another e-commerce brand, why should you care? Actually, if you’re a woman and don’t own a pair yourself yet or know someone who does, there’s a high likelihood that will change soon, including because one of the company’s biggest advocates to date has been none other than Meghan Markle, the actress turned Duchess of Sussex, whose fashion choices are copiously detailed by fashion sites around the world, copied by their readers, then picked up by readers’ friends.

Interestingly, Markle was never meant to step outside in the slippers. But before we explain, let’s back up a bit first, to Gates’s earlier career, which is a familiar story but also underscores the importance of grit — as well as the importance of making the right connections. 

As Gates tells it from Birdie’s offices on Union Street, a kind of yuppie haven in San Francisco, “My family was living in Santa Ana and I was commuting every day to Irvine and I just wanted to spread my wings and move to a big city with a lot of diversity after graduating.” Thanks partly to her fluency in Spanish, she landed a job with the broadcast giant Univision as an account executive. After more than three years, and “realizing I didn’t want to be typecast as an Hispanic person working for Hispanic TV,” she left for Viacom, where Gates fell for a colleague.

He landed soon after at Stanford Business School, and after plenty of cross-country flights, the two married and moved to San Francisco to start their family, with Gates opening up an office for Viacom’s MTV in the process. But she was soon feeling antsy again. “It was really convenient for me, but I [felt] after having my first chid and working out of a satellite office that I was out of the action. I wanted to be closer to people.”

As it happens, she caught a 2011 commencement speech that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg delivered to Barnard College students and decided to apply to Facebook. Six months later, she landed a job leading retail partnerships, where she helped sales organizations understand what was then a new platform to them. 

She also made powerful friends, including Priti Youssef Chokski, a Facebook colleague who was striking corporate and business development deals and who Gates befriended over a series of events at the home of Sandberg, who quietly hosted employees who Sandberg identified as eager to do more with their careers. “You didn’t photograph yourself there or talk about [the dinners], but it helped Priti and I form a deeper friendship,” recalls Gates.

The friendship — and Sandberg’s support — would eventually help get Birdies off the ground.

So did Gates’s obsession with finding post-work, pre-slipper-type shoes, which she says dates back a decade. “I just found that more and more, I was being asked to take off my shoes in friends’ homes and I was asking people to do the same. I thought that stylish shoes for indoors made a lot of sense,” but she wasn’t sure if there was a void in the market, or if she just imagined one.

She decided to pursue the idea, while recognizing that she couldn’t do it alone. She still had that big job at Facebook that she loved. She also had two young kids at home at this point. So Gates texted her friend, Marisa Sharkey, a former Ross Stores executive who’d moved from Manhattan to Sacramento with her own family and was feeling restless. “I texted her and said, ‘I have this crazy idea; I’ll call you tomorrow.’ Marisa texted back immediately and said, ‘Tell me what it is.’” Within no time at all, Sharkey was fully committed, putting $50,000 into the venture, alongside Gates, who also put $50,000 into the venture.

What they got for their money? Shoes that today give them both “PTSD,” jokes Gates, but that became the starting point of Birdies.

It wasn’t so easy, but some key connections made the difference, one of which surfaced through good-old-fashioned outreach.  “We basically became so obsessed with our idea that we asked everyone we talked with whether they could help. Through degrees of separation, we were connected to someone who’d just retired from the footwear business in L.A and knew some factories in China and agreed to help introduce us to them.”

It was a game changer, even if what the factories were left working with wasn’t exactly pretty. Think shoes torn apart, their innards — including their memory foam inserts — reassembled on construction paper. “The shoe industry is very small and it’s really hard to get into a factory unless you know someone,” says Gates. “It isn’t like making apparel, where you can go to a factory in South San Francisco and make 24 dresses and see how it goes. With footwear, you can’t try in small doses.”

Of course, there were still many learnings to come, starting with the realization that they had no where to store the 1,800 pairs of shoes they’d had to order — and which arrived sooner than expected outside of Sharkey’s home. (They wound up housed in her garage.)

Gates also began worrying about losing her full-time job, eventually mustering up the courage to write Sandberg to explain that she was responsible for a garage piled high with slipper shoes that she hoped to sell — then fretting about what the return email would say. As it happens, Sandberg “could have been more supportive. I even forwarded her note to my manager, saying, look, Sheryl is cool with this,” says Gates, laughing.

Fast forward several years, and Birdies is now a a legitimate, if surprisingly small, operation, one with just six employees but a big and fast-growing base of customers.

Its very first customer, Gate’s Facebook friend, Choksi, wound up being an important champion. Chokski left Facebook last year to become a venture capitalist. And as a partner with Norwest Venture Partners, she just led the firm into Birdie’s competitive Series A round, a development about which she sounds excited.

“Even that first pair — they didn’t look like the random shoes i was putting on with what i was wearing at home,” recalls Choksi. “I could also get the mail and do quick errands.” She still has them, she says. “They’re fairly worn out, but I keep them just to taunt Bianca.”

Unbeknownst to Birdies, it was Meghan Markle who would put the company on the map, however. A short lifestyle piece about Birdies in the SF Chronicle got the ball rolling. “We started to gain traction,” and with that came the nascent attention of fashion editors and celebrity stylists, says Gates. But the company still had very limited resources. It had to choose one celebrity on which to focus and it zeroed in on Markle, then an actor starring in a show called “Suits.”

“We just loved her casual elegance,” says Gates of Markle, whose courtship with with Prince Harry was on no one’s radar at the time. “We loved that she often wore simple button-downs and jeans and casual loafers. We also liked that she was this wonderful humanitarian.” Birdies sent Markle a complimentary pair of shoes, and to its great delight, Markle took to them. In fact, she began wearing them all them time and tagging them on Instagram, too.

There was just one problem. Markle was wearing them everywhere other than indoors. “It was this amazing, frustrating moment for the brand, because they were made for entertaining in the home.” They might have stewed longer, but a quick call with Bonobos founder Andy Dunn — who’d attended Stanford with Gates’s husband — soon set Gates and Sharkey straight. “He basically said, ‘You just fell into a much bigger opportunity.’”

A thicker rubber soul followed — along with a $100,000 check from Dunn —  and the rest is history in the making. Not that it’s all a walk in the park, naturally. The company has at times had waitlists of up to 30,000 people — a problem it hopes its new round of funding will help solve.

Like a lot of e-commerce brands, it’s also wrestling with price points, offering several limited edition shoes in partnership with designer Ken Fulk last fall that “brought in a whole new customer” but were also priced at $165, roughly 30 percent more than most of its slippers, says Gates. (Birdies more recently introduced a “resort” slipper that’s priced at $95, and Gates says the company hopes to introduce other, more affordable designs down the line.)

There’s also the challenge of figuring out which new markets to chase while simultaneously hiring, fast. Choksi and Norwest, which has reach into many consumer brands, is helping on the latter front. Meanwhile, Gates says to expect more in the way of bridesmaids’ slippers, as well as other new designs coming this spring and summer.

Like any successful startup, Birdies also seems poised to see more copycat designs, though Gates doesn’t seem terribly concerned, not yet.

“We’ve had friends tell us that Target is offering a similar slipper at a different price point. Everybody copies everybody,” she says. “It’s our job to create a brand beyond the silhouette of a slipper, because that can be knocked off, it’s not defensible. What is defensible is why [a customer] is buying Birdies, and why she is telling her friends to shop us. It’s our job to give her more than a product, to lift her up. That’s the mission of the company.”

Birdies has now raised roughly $10 million altogether, including $2 million in seed funding led by Forerunner in the fall of 2017.

Above, left to right, cofounders Bianca Gates and Marisa Sharkey. Photo courtesy of Birdies.

News Source = techcrunch.com

‘Star Wars’ returns: Trump calls for space-based missile defense

in Defense Department/Delhi/department of defense/Gadgets/Government/India/military/Pentagon/Politics/Science/Space/Trump by

The President has announced that the Defense Department will pursue a space-based missile defense system reminiscent of the one proposed by Reagan in 1983. As with Reagan’s ultimately abortive effort, the technology doesn’t actually exist yet and may not for years to come — but it certainly holds more promise now than 30 years ago.

In a speech at the Pentagon reported by the Associated Press, Trump explained that a new missile defense system would “detect and destroy any missile launched against the United States anywhere, any time, any place.”

“My upcoming budget will invest in a space-based missile defense layer. It’s new technology. It’s ultimately going to be a very, very big part of our defense, and obviously our offense,” he said. The nature of this “new technology” is not entirely clear, as none was named or ordered to be tested or deployed.

Lest anyone think that this is merely one of the President’s flights of fancy, he is in fact simply voicing the conclusions of the Defense Department’s 2019 Missile Defense Review, a major report that examines the state of the missile threat against the U.S. and what countermeasures might be taken.

It reads in part:

As rogue state missile arsenals develop, space will play a particularly important role in support of missile defense.

Russia and China are developing advanced cruise missiles and hypersonic missile capabilities that can travel at exceptional speeds with unpredictable flight paths that challenge existing defensive systems.

The exploitation of space provides a missile defense posture that is more effective, resilient and adaptable to known and unanticipated threats… DoD will undertake a new and near-term examination of the concepts and technology for space-based defenses to assess the technological and operational potential of space-basing in the evolving security environment.

The President’s contribution seems to largely have been to eliminate the mention of the nation-states directly referenced (and independently assessed at length) in the report, and to suggest the technology is ready to deploy. In fact all the Pentagon is ready to do is begin research into the feasibility of the such a system or systems.

No doubt space-based sensors are well on their way; we already have near-constant imaging of the globe (companies like Planet have made it their mission), and the number and capabilities of such satellites are only increasing.

Space-based tech has evolved considerably over the many years since the much-derided “Star Wars” proposals, but some of them are still as unrealistic as they were then. However as the Pentagon report points out, the only way to know for sure is to conduct a serious study of the possibilities, and that’s what this plan calls for. All the same it may be best for Trump not to repeat Reagan’s mistake of making promises he can’t keep.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Dolby quietly preps augmented audio recorder app “234″

in Apps/audio/Audio Recording/augmented audio/Delhi/dolby/Entertainment/India/Media/mobile/Politics/Social/soundcloud/TC by

Dolby is secretly building a mobile music production app it hopes will seduce SoundCloud rappers and other musicians. Codenamed “234” and formerly tested under the name Dolby Live, the free app measures background noise before you record and then nullifies it. Users can also buy “packs” of audio effects to augment their sounds with EQs settings like “Amped, Bright, Lyric, Thump, Deep, or Natural”. Recordings can then be exported, shared to Dolby’s own audio social network, or uploaded directly to SoundCloud through a built-in integration.

You could call it VSCO or Instagram for SoundCloud.

234 is Dolby Labs’ first big entrance into the world of social apps that could give it more face time with consumers than its core business of integrating audio technology into devices by other manufacturers. Using 234 to convince musicians that Dolby is an expert at audio quality could get them buying more of those speakers and headphones. And by selling audio effect packs, the app could earn the company money directly while making the world of mobile music sound better.

Dolby has been covertly testing Dolby Live/234 since at least June. A source tipped us off to the app and while the company hasn’t formally announced it, there is a website for signing up to test Dolby 234. Dolby PR refused to comment on the forthcoming app. But 234’s sign-up site advertises it saying “How can music recorded on a phone sound so good? Dolby 234 automatically cleans up the sound, gives it tone and space, and finds the ideal loudness. it’s like having your own producer in your phone.”

Those with access to the Dolby 234 app can quickly record audio or audio/video clips with optional background noise cancelling. Free sound editing tools including trimming, loudness boost, and bass and treble controls. Users can get a seven-day free trial of the Dolby’s “Essentials” pack of EQ presets like ‘Bright’ before having to pay, though the pack was free in the beta version so we’re not sure how much it will cost. The “Tracks” tab lets you edit or share any of the clips you’ve recorded.

Overall, the app is polished and intuitive with a lively feel thanks to the Instagram logo-style purple/orange gradient color scheme. The audio effects have a powerful impact on the sound without being gimmicky or overbearing. There’s plenty of room for additional features, though, like multi-tracking, a metronome, or built-in drum beats.

For musicians posting mobile clips to Instagram or other social apps, 234 could make them sound way better without much work. There’s also a huge opportunity for Dolby to court podcasters and other non-music audio creators. I’d love a way to turn effects on and off mid-recording so I could add the feeling of an intimate whisper or echoey ampitheater to emphasize certain words or phrases.

Given how different 234 is from Dolby’s traditional back-end sound processing technologies, it’s done a solid job with design and the app could still get more bells and whistles before an official launch. It’s a creative move for the brand and one that recognizes the seismic shifts facing audio production and distribution. As always-in earbuds like Apple’s AirPods and voice interfaces like Alexa proliferate, short-form audio content will become more accessible and popular. Dolby could spare the world from having to suffer through amazing creators muffled by crappy recordings.

News Source = techcrunch.com

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