I’m here for a conference but had a bit of time this weekend to explore before it starts.
It’s not enough time to properly learn about the city, but I’m having a fantastic time and thought I’d share a few random disconnected thoughts.
Weather. I should get the cliched observation out of the way first. It’s hot and sunny. Really sunny. I’m regularly covering myself in SPF50 and still ending up more than a little pink. Perhaps I’m just not used to this “being outside” thing.
It’s hilly. Actually, they’re called hills, but that doesn’t do it justice. The bus heading up to Corcovado went up one bit that was so steep I was convinced it would roll back down.
Wherever you go, the hills are part of the landscape
Rio isn’t a place for people who don’t like heights. Even ignoring people offering me helicopter rides or friends suggesting hang gliding, the big tourist attraction is getting a cable car to the top of Sugar Loaf mountain. The views are apparently amazing, but I thought it looked far too scary and gave it a miss.
I’ve said before that I don’t like London. I avoid having to work in London wherever possible. But, if I’m honest, I don’t really know the city that well and always tend to go back to the same old places when I am there.
Yesterday changed that a bit. Amy and I went to London for a tour with HiddenCity, and I saw more of it in one day than I’d seen in years.
A HiddenCity trail is basically a treasure hunt delivered by SMS messages. You get a text message with a clue for something to find. Once you’ve worked it out, you reply by SMS. If you’re right, you get the clue for the next step of the hunt.
I’ve tried to explain IBM Watson to a lot of people this year. A common theme in questions I’ve had has been comparing it to search engines like Google.
Sometimes people ask why one is “better” than another. Sometimes they just ask how they are different.
It’s not surprising. A natural response to learning about something new is to put it into context of things that we already know.
In addition, we describe Watson as a question answering technology and over the last few years many people have perhaps become a bit conditioned to thinking that if they have a question then they can Google for it.
There are many differences between search engines and Watson, both in what they can do, and in how they try to do it.