We recently ran a hackathon at work: people within IBM were invited to try building a mobile app aimed at consumers using Watson services. It was a fun chance to try out some new ideas, as well as to build something using our APIs – dogfooding is always a good thing.
I worked on a hack with David which we submitted on Wednesday. This is what we came up with, and how we built it.
A mobile app that will help users to digest the news by explaining references in stories and providing greater context.
It’s difficult to find the time nowadays to properly read and understand what’s going on in the world. We rarely have the time to sit and read through a newspaper. Instead, we might quickly read news stories online from our smartphones and tablets. But that often makes it difficult to understand the broader context that a story is in. There might be references in the story to people, places, organisations or events that are unfamiliar.
Watson could help. It could be an assistant as you read the news, explaining unfamiliar references and the broader context.
Our Watson News Companion demo is a mobile news reader app that:
anticipates questions and suggests areas where it can help improve understanding
provides answers to questions without needing the users to lose their place in the story
allow the user to dig deeper with their own follow-up questions
For these particular XML files, order is not important. The XML is being used to contain a set of things, not a list – the order of the elements has no significance. Similarly, the order of the attributes within each element isn’t significant.
For example, for my purposes, these two XML files are equivalent:
A couple of weeks ago I was interviewed by the BBC. In a fairly long phone call, I either rambled inanely or provided detailed and nuanced answers in context. That depends on your point of view.
Either way, obviously not a lot of it could make it into their story, as they really only needed a few quotes. So I thought I’d put more of what I said here.
The background for the story was the changes to the UK school curriculum which means that all kids are being taught to code. And the basic premise for the piece was that as we’re “entering an era when computers are actually beginning to teach themselves” that this is unnecessary and that coding itself is becoming an outdated skill.
A few code snippets for how you can quickly stand up a SQL database, and provide a REST API for DB read/writes
I was helping out a team at a hackday hosted at Hursley last week. One of the things they wanted for their hack was a SQL database to put sensor data in, which they could access via a REST API. And they wanted it in node.js.
I’d never used Node before, so I used this as a chance to give myself a first crash-course.
I’m not saying this is the way to do this in Node, as it’s the result of my first hour’s tinkering. But it worked, and I mostly wanted to share how quick and easy it was.
So… I was expecting a cool and geeky, if faceless, serious, formal, and intimidating event.
I’d read it completely wrong. It’s absolutely a professionally run event. And there was no shortage of cool geekiness. But, more than that, the organizer, Herb Kim, has created a real sense of community in it. There’s a feeling of almost familial warmth amongst attendees who come year after year after year.