The Plastic Tide Project

This year for British Science Week we are helping out The Plastic Tide by getting them over 1 million classifications by the end of Sunday 19th March! The Plastic Tide aims to significantly enhance our understanding of the amount of plastic on coastlines, by trialling revolutionary drone-based automatic detection of litter. Help them reach […]

As with all the Zooniverse citizen science projects, its straight forward to take part. You categorise beach plastic to help train an AI algorithm. This will take over the task and track the problem of plastic in the sea in future.

via British Science Week Challenge – The Plastic Tide — Daily Zooniverse



Stephen Hawking: Visionary physicist dies aged 76 – BBC News

World renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76.
He died peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of Wednesday, his family said.
The British scientist was famed for his work with black holes and relativity, and wrote several popular science books including A Brief History of Time.

via Stephen Hawking: Visionary physicist dies aged 76 – BBC News

Whenever I was in Cambridge I always hoped to catch a glimpse of him around, now – assuming time is linear – I’m sad that won’t happen.

A remarkable human. Stephen Hawking RIP.

Firefox For Fire TV Gets Favourites

Latest Firefox for Amazon Fire TV Available this Week
With this latest release, we’ve included a fresh new look to help you easily navigate the web on your Fire TV. No more typing in long URLs that you like to visit frequently. Users can now save their preferred websites by pinning them to the Firefox home screen. By using the menu button, you can easily remove any pinned websites at any time.

via Latest Firefox available to users where they browse the web – laptop, Fire TV and the office. The Mozilla Blog

Excellent. One of my negatives from my Firefox on Fire TV review has been solved. Its a small thing but makes it so much more useable, even for the most casual use.

Microsoft Dropped the Ball on Cortana

It’s funny to think that just a few years ago, Cortana was one of the best virtual assistants on the market that was also appropriately positioned to improve and grow. Microsoft was the first to have an always listening peripheral on the market with the Xbox One and Kinect. It was the first to bring a virtual assistant to a desktop OS with Windows 10. It was the first to build out a virtual assistant that can sync data across devices. Somehow, Cortana has fallen so far behind.

via Microsoft has totally dropped the ball on Cortana | Windows Central

Its hard to dispute the article title, somewhere along the way, Microsoft got overtaken by the other voice assistants.

Apple was the first to put it in peoples phones, Amazon the first to land it in peoples homes.

A few thoughts

My sticking point has always been the name, Cortana. I know its something to do with Halo, but it means nothing to me, and likely consumers at large. I can see how early on they thought the early adopters would be the tech, gamer crowd. The name needs to change to something more friendly sounding.

The quote above also illustrates another issue. Cortana has alway existed blended in with something else. Without the mobile market success in Windows Phone, to most users, Cortana is part of the now defunct Kinect or the search feature of Windows 10. Incidental to something else.

I kinda disagree with article, that it needs to be in more markets. Yes it does. That will help the numbers, sure. Siri is on hundreds of millions of phones, but doesn’t have the best reputation. Pushing it out to more people doesn’t seem like it will automatically equal success.

The partnership with Amazon Alexa to allow them to talk together, seems like a kludgy sticky plaster mis-step.

Cortanas Future

I think the move out of search and into the action centre on Windows will help, and fit with the virtual assistant premise. One strength of Cortana was the Notebook, where you could dictate what it knew. A bit like a PA.

I think Microsoft can’t be all things and top this market. I think their best option is simply refocusing on something specific and carve a niche. They have Bing which should mean they can mix it with the others for trivia and search queries. They have all the services, Office etc mixed in, they could go the professional route. They could also go the Bixby direction and specialise at device control. Performing complex tasks on devices, simply.

Oh no, it will be called something glamorous like, Windows Assistant.

The Two Faces of AMP

So, to recap, the web community has stated over and over again that we’re not comfortable with Google incentivizing the use of AMP with search engine carrots. In response, Google has provided yet another search engine carrot for AMP.

This wouldn’t bother me if AMP was open about what it is: a tool for folks to optimize their search engine placement. But of course, that’s not the claim. The claim is that AMP is “for the open web.” There are a lot of good folks working on AMP. I’ve met and talked with many of them numerous times and they’re doing amazing technical work. But the way the project is being positioned right now is disingenuous.

If AMP is truly for the open web, de-couple it from Google search entirely. It has no business there.

via The Two Faces of AMP –

Progressive Web Apps (PWA) can be the next platform – with Chrome, Samsung Internet and now Firefox Mobile supporting the concept and Safari in future. PWA can sit seamlessly alongside native apps right now on your device and soon in the app stores.

Desktop support is in progress, congratulations if you are a web developer you may be called software developer in future, as the two disciplines will be indistinguishable in future. As will any concept of a ‘mobile’ browser, as now the OS are starting to run on any form factor.

Truly multi-platform progress.

From my latest post on mobile browser choices on