Early last month Facebook announced it was going to start offering a search feature, called Graph Search, to its users. The new search tool would allow users to surface information within Facebook itself — instead of across the Web.
Some may view Graph Search as an attack on Google, and in some ways it is, but at the end of the day it’s a completely different approach to search. It’s social search.
Right now, when you want to find a topical Web site or information (spanning very broad or specific categories) you search using Google. The results are often very impressive. Google does the best job in surfacing relevant information for you.
With Facebook, until now, search has had to be very specific. You had to know the username, business name, phone number or e-mail address of the person you are trying to find. It was extremely frustrating to search within. With the new Graph Search feature you can enter more general terms to not only surface people, but places, pictures and events.
For example, right now if I wanted to look up which of my friends on Facebook like the popular show *Game of Thrones,* with the intent of holding a viewing party, I would be without an easy method to do this. Google wouldn’t have a clue where to start indexing, and Facebook (without Graph Search) couldn’t tell me either. I’d have to post a status update asking who likes the show and hope the algorithms treated me well that day.
With Graph Search, I’ll now be able to search for just that. I can even go one step further and narrow down the search results by searching for friends of friends, or only male friends, or people located in Pueblo.. and the list goes on. I can get very specific with the search query, and Facebook will not only recognize it, but I will also see a list of people with the most important result surfacing at the top.
This is powerful when you think about use cases beyond a simple viewing party. Yelp and Foursquare are arguably two of the better services to assist you in finding somewhere to eat in a new town. Millions of Yelp and Foursquare users connect their accounts to Facebook, posting reviews, likes and tips at various venues across both networks. Facebook can now leverage this information, which up until now was sitting unused by anyone but advertisers, and let its users take advantage of it.
Yes, you can search Google for “best places to eat in Seattle,” but you wouldn’t get the same customized results you are going to from Graph Search. With Graph Search you’ll be able to search “favorite places to eat in Seattle for people my age.” See the difference?
Let’s take Online dating as another example. Online dating right now works something like this: you sit down, fill out a profile, add you what interests you at that moment, put a few pictures up and wait. And wait. But with Facebook, our interests, photos and profile are changing on a daily basis. Our social graph is a living set of various data metrics. This graph is what Facebook compares search queries against. Facebook can take your graph to help you surface your next date through Graph Search. “Show me female friends of my friends who are single, like Indian food and have traveled to San Francisco” is an example of (potentially) how specific you would be able to get when looking for a date. Then knowing you have a friend who knows this person, you can ask for an introduction, or simply make the introduction yourself stating you have a mutual friend. The same situation can apply to those looking for a job, instead of a date. It sounds kind of creepy, and well — it is.
It’s creepy because until now we have had no way of putting into a visual form (other than your Facebook Timeline which is cumbersome and annoyingly difficult to navigate, let alone find a specific post easily) the amount of data Facebook keeps about us. With Graph Search you’ll be able to view all of the photos you’ve ever liked on Facebook with a simple search (yes, this hasn’t ever been easily available up until now).
For better or worse, Facebook has a lot of dirt on all of us. It knows what we like, where we’ve been, who we are friends with and so much more. Notice Facebook only knows what we have done in the past, or what we are doing right now. It currently doesn’t know what we want to do in the future, although it probably has some great guesses. With the addition of Graph Search, it will soon know what our intent is. It will know where we want to go, what we want to eat, who we want to meet.
What does this mean for your privacy? Well, depending on your privacy settings, not much. The biggest impact is going to come from posts, photos and likes you’ve publicly shared. Once Graph Search is enabled for your account, anything you publicly share (not to friends or groups) will be searchable by anyone. But don’t worry, you’ll be alerted when your account has Graph Search and you’ll be given a chance to tidy up those privacy settings for future and past posts.
Facebook has said it’s going to slowly roll out the Graph Search. If you’re the adventurous type, you can request to be part of the early beta by visiting facebook.com/graphsearch on your computer and clicking on the button at the bottom of the page.
I’ve requested my invite and I look forward to the day I gain access to the new search tool. Facebook has always been a social network I used because I had to, not because I wanted to. I hope Graph Search will help show me the value of the data I blindly give to the social giant.
Using this data to help us make new connections or find the perfect place to eat on our anniversary trip isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We are willingly giving this information to Facebook anyways, and if Mark Zuckerberg wants to make a few bucks off of it — so be it.
by Jason Cipriani
Mecheagle v. Rising Sun Robot
For American robotics company MegaBots and Japanese company Suidobashi it’s battle time. Punches will probably be thrown.
In 2012, Suidobashi developed a giant robot called the Kuratas, which stands over 13 feet high and weighs just under 10,000 pounds. It can be manned by one person, and features a full heads-up display and an advanced targeting system, or can even be controlled remotely. Costing a bit over $1.35 million, the Kuratas was first revealed three years ago with no opposition in its field, making it the first ever robot of its kind.
Fast forward three years.
Only the most American of ideas conceivable would happen. MegaBots decided they would build their own giant robot, and challenge Suidobashi to a battle that was, until now, only a spark of imagination in our minds. The challenge went viral after being posted to YouTube and was soon seen by Suidobashi.
“We just finished tightening the bolts on the Mk. II, America’s first fully-functional, giant piloted robot,” the makers said in the video. “And because we’re American, we’ve added really big guns.”
After throwing in some details about the features of their robot, as well as details regarding the Kuratas, the team members did the inevitable.
“Suidobashi, we have a giant robot, you have a giant robot… You know what needs to happen,” after which the challenge was offered. America’s MegaBots picked a fight.
In Suidobashi’s response video, Kogoro Kurata, the company’s CEO, replied with several mocking retorts, such as “Come on guys, make it cooler. Just building something huge and sticking guns on it. It’s… Super American.”
Kurata goes on to say: “We can’t let another country win this. Giant robots are Japanese culture.”
The video ends with a message telling MegaBots to arrange the duel, and that Suidobashi will be there. But in order for it to be a real duel, the robots need to have some form of malee combat. The battle is expected to take place sometime in the summer or fall or 2016.
Now, while this may sound like an aggressively playful jab between giant robot companies, many predictions have begun circulating around regarding just what, exactly, this means for the future of giant fighting robots.
Until now, the only field in which robotic technology has received major attention has been in the medical field, which almost creates a comedic tone of irony. Medical robotics have been designed and intended to help people who are in the hospital, and now these two companies are in an arms race to design robots that could easily hospitalize people, in what has become one of the biggest public relations events in the history of robotic technology, especially considering how well-accepted and spread around it has been by social media.
MegaBots speculations suggest giant robots fighting could become the next huge worldwide sport, which, much like UFC or WWE, would be filled with an enthusiastic sense of danger and excitement, minus the actual injury of humans.
Giant robots would also have different limitations than what humans can, causing the style of the fights to be vastly different from traditional fighting-related sports. Robots can fire projectiles from their arms, withstand explosions, be loaded up with a wide array of equipment, and can be reassembled after being destroyed – or, at least, another one can be made to look like the first.
Much like Kurata said in Suidobashi’s response video, the fascination with giant robots fighting one another originated in Japanese culture, most noticeably in manga and anime. One of the most famous of all being the Gundam series, which is easily recognizable by anime fans worldwide for its giant robots (more commonly referred to as ‘mechs’) that fight each other with a mixture of sword fights and gun battles.
Some anime fans may remember a show from year back called IGPX, or, “Immortal Grand Prix” where giant mechs would race along long and convoluted tracks to a finish line, while fighting against an opposing team that would try and get there first.
Looking at the current models for the Mk. II and the Kuratas, both robots have armor, wheels and weaponry, meaning that to see them fighting and racing is, by no means, out of the questions. It goes without saying that, even if their dispute is only aimed at the purpose of entertainment, MegaBots and Suidobashi may be making history as the pioneers of what could be the next biggest sports in world history.
Watching people game: Twitch TV
At first glance the name Twitch.tv comes across as more confusing than intuitive. Something in the realm of a drug side effect than a popular video site. Honestly could you guess that everyday on average 4 million viewers watch over 2 hours of content from it? Content being basically live streams of someone else playing a video game? That’s more viewers per week than Breaking Bad, Preseason NFL, and tosh.0 combined. It’s pretty astonishing if you ask me.
In just a few years the live video streaming service has gone from an interesting niche idea to clogging the internet like a boss. It joins Netflix, Apple, and Google in peak internet traffic claiming 1.8% just above Hulu at 1.7%. There’s also the business aspect of streaming which isn’t just for the hobbyist. Professional streamer Jeffrey Shih told Forbes that the best streamers can bring home upwards of $100,000 on their streams alone. That’s some serious cash for just “sitting around playing games”.
What’s also serious is how Twtich.tv started. Twitch was origionally called Justin.tv and started as the personal site where Justin Kan would lifecast to the world. Lifecasting involved streaming events over the internet usually point of view style. It meant wearing head mounted cameras giving the viewer a very personal and entertaining experience. This concept transitioned over into Twtich.tv by allowing anyone with the right hardware to stream live gameplay over the interent. This last February Justin.tv was dropped in favor of building Twitch 100% and pushing it into the mainstream.
So when your internet speeds start to dip in the evenings after everyone gets home you’ll might be able to blame live streaming.
Strangely enough though this service isn’t exactly on the western radar yet being adopted more quickly by the European and Asian countries. It wasn’t until about six months ago when Google pondered the idea of buying Twitch that it started to really get noticed. Plot twist however Amazon just snagged it for a cool $970 million to add to it’s ever growing portfolio of world domination. It seems as if gaming as a spectator sport is coming to fruition and quickly thanks to huge investments of cash from the tech giant. If they are printing that kind of money you can bet they have a plan for the future, and hopefully it benefits all gamers whether professional, hobbyist, viewer or streamer.
The best streamers can bring home upwards of $100,000 on their streams alone.
The numbers are there and the cash is flowing in, but the biggest question most ask is “why should I care”?
Why indeed. The idea of watching someone else’s game seems pointless. With today’s hardware being so affordable and customizable why on earth would you waste your time watching someone else? Shouldn’t you be playing yourself?
Interestingly enough this is where Twitch really shines. It’s not just about the content but also the micro communities. Built in chat, custom emoticons, giveaways, and other channel specific benefits give viewers a reason to come back daily. That and the content is always new, even if it’s just picking up from the save game the day before.
Steamers can have real time interaction with just a handful of viewers up to hundreds of thousands. The audience can interact and change what they are watching by just commenting. Giving a community aspect above and beyond traditional television or other video sites like YouTube. Gamers have even quit their full-time jobs where they try to make it off revenue from YouTube and Twitch
Over the next few years, with the help of eSports and gaming colleges, you will probably see the entire gaming sector sky rocket. Gaming talk shows, professional tournaments, and overall quality of content is growing by leaps and bounds every month.
Twitch much like Vine, Twitter, Instagram, and other social networks doesn’t make sense to outsiders. However gaming, like every other social medium thrives off personal interaction and just moved to the digital realm. Watching others play games may sound boring, but when you think about it, isn’t that was we did as kids? In our parent’s basement watching our friend make an incredible run on Sonic the Hedgehog. All that’s really changed is now your couch can seat thousands of friends from all around the world.
It’s a good time to be a gamer.
The $299 NVIDIA Shield Tablet: not just for Gamers
You can think of the Shield Tablet as a technological utility knife. Not one of those cheap chinese knock offs you’d get at a flea market, but something from the future with lasers and maybe a chainsaw option. Something that would make Dr. Who or maybe even Tony Stark envious. Alright maybe not quite that awesome but it’s still pretty sweet. All jokes aside it’s able to run high end mobile games, stream PC games, connect to your HDTV, watch movies, listen to music, browse the internet, stream to Twitch.tv, make video calls, take notes, draw works of art, hack your neighbors WiFi, post social updates, and more… much much more.
All of these features are thanks to the great specs inside. Now I’m going to have to get nerdy for a bit so brace yourselves (feel free to glaze over this part if specs aren’t your thing). It has 2GB of system memory, 16GB or 32GB of internal storage, a microSD slot supporting up to 128GB, mini HDMI out for console mode supporting up to 4K, an 8in full 1080p HD display (275ppi), a 3.5mm headphone jack, a 5-megapixel front camera and 5-megapixel rear camera, a built in stylus for drawing and note taking, built in 802.11n 2×2 MIMO Wi-Fi, a quadcore 2.2GHz ARM A15 CPU, and of course the main feature of the tablet the 192 core Kepler GPU. Not bad for only being 9.2mm thick and 390 grams.
“If some of that went over your head it’s ok, just imagine something along the lines of an overclocked PS3 flattened to a pancake and shoved under an 8in screen.”
Now before I get into the main details of the tablet let me explain a bit about Nvidia as a company itself. Over the last 20+ years they have influenced our daily lives by: continually evolving the GPU, helping Holywood make awesome movies, powering the world’s fastest supercomputers, creating proprietary console GPUs, powering smart gadgets and vehicles, and even helping save lives through GPU based medical advancements. I’d venture a guess that everyone in the last year alone has watched at least one movie or played a game that was powered by Nvidia tech. At it’s core Nvidia is a gaming company though, and no matter how many ventures they expand into gaming will always be a primary focus for them. Hence the move to making an Android based gaming tablet. Nvidia wanted something to upset the balance of mobile gaming and show that console quality games can be played on the go.
Android Gaming: This is where the tablet really shines. I loaded up some of the newest mobile games like: Modern Combat 5, Asphalt 8, Trine 2, Rochard, Dead Trigger 2, Defenders, Bounty Arms, Half-Life 2, Portal, Deus Ex: The Fall, and Dungeon Defenders just to name a few. Needless to say everything ran great. Fast fluid framerates, faster than normal load times, and the ability to run everything on max settings makes for a great experience. Touch screen games look and play awesome on the 8in screen. However the tablets best experience can be had through it’s library of controller supported games.
Shield Controller: This truly is a game changer for the mobile market. The controller feels good in the hands and sports some neat extras like android navigation buttons, a touch pad, volume rocker, built-in microphone, rechargeable battery, and 3.5mm jack for a headset. The analog sticks and D-Pad are what you would expect from a gaming controller and leagues ahead of any bluetooth options on the market. The addition of native android buttons are a nice touch and help more than you would think. The touchpad is a neat option allowing you to navigate non-controller supported screens more easily. The built in microphone is great for giving voice commands or recording over gameplay while streaming. Lastly the headset port on the top allows you to plug in a headset and not only hear all the audio from the tablet but stream voice back if you prefer a higher quality mic than the built in one. It will cost you an extra $60 so it’s not for everyone, but I recommend it if you want the full gaming experience. It’s money well spent, and I’m debating on buying more for multiplayer games.
Gamestream: This is actually a really neat feature that most will probably never use. Basically you can stream your PC games to the Shield Tablet anywhere you have a fast/stable connection. It requires a GTX600 or higher equipped PC and that can cost you almost as much as the tablet itself if not more. If you meet the requirements it’s a great add-on and being able to access your library of games from anywhere is a lot of fun.
GRID: Simply put this is like having a gaming PC in the cloud. Nvidia setup a huge server cluster in California that streams a select library of PC games to your device. It’s still a beta feature currently so it’s free for every tablet user but is limited to only the games they have loaded. From my tests it runs great and almost better than local Gamestreaming even though I’m in Colorado. There’s not a roadmap for the GRID service but I’d like to see them add support for Steam so I can load up my games and saves. I’d gladly pay $10-15/month to have my own personal gaming rig in the cloud. Paired with 4G LTE this could be a game changer but right now it’s just a neat feature to try.
Shadowplay: This is Nvidia’s fancy name for local recording. You can record anything you do on your tablet and stream it straight to Twitch.tv or save it for editing later. I’ve been putting this to the test by recording lots of gameplay videos which you can view on my youtube gaming channel. It has multiple options for quality that goes all the way up to 1080p. Thats right you can record 1080p games right on the tablet. If you’re into adding your voice and face while you play you can do that too. The interface is simple and quickly accessible from the controller or settings dropdown.
Direct Stylus 2: You read that right this tablet is sporting v2 of the direct stylus tech! Although it’s ok if you didn’t know there was a v1. Basically Nvidia managed to tack on a sensitive and low latency stylus thanks to the power of the Tegra GPU. The built in apps like Dabbler really show off the power of it, but you can use your favorite apps that you would say on a Galaxy Note 3. It works well for taking notes and drawing but isn’t going to replace your Wacom or pen and paper anytime soon.
- Fast…. really fast. Currently unmatched in the mobile realm.
- It’s a full featured tablet running stock android.
- HD Screen! Slightly larger than 1080p.
- Plays every game thrown at it and has K1 exclusives.
- Can stream full PC games from GTX enabled machines.
- Comes with a stylus for drawing and note taking.
- Doesn’t cost an arm and a leg like most of Nvidias new tech.
- Console grade low latency wireless controller (supports up to 4).
- Micro SD storage expansion up to 128GB.
- Built in mini HDMI out for a true console experience.
- Twitch.tv streaming right from the tablet.
- “Squishy” (hard to use) power and volume buttons.
- Controller must be purchased separately.
- Can’t turn on/off tablet from the controller while sitting on the couch (might be fixed through software)
- Desktop class GPU means lower than average battery life when running high end games.
- Swiss army knife of tablets (might be too many options for normal consumers)
- Bugs… too many options means lots of bugs.
- Quite a few of the first batches have heating defects.
- Below average WiFi range (this is a bummer).
- It doesn’t have a “lower case I” or an apple on it.
All in all I’m extremely happy with this tablet. After just a few weeks of daily use I still reach for this over any other device. If you consider yourself a gamer this is an obvious purchase and if not for $299 what are you going to find that’s better?