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Tom Hume
Works at Google
Attended University of Sussex
Lives in San Francisco, US
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Tom Hume

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“Welcome to Google. It’s amazing to be with you,” he says. “My name is Upright Mammal. I am a human being who stands on two legs, which is good. I will be your tour guide through the incredible technology prison of Google."
Google. A titan of the Information Age. From its modest beginnings in 1998 as the passion project of Stanford graduate students Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Google has grown to become one of the greatest tech juggernauts in the world. It is now an omnipresent force in modern society—an inescapable...
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Tom Hume

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"By 2020, the House of Commons should ensure that everyone can understand what it does."

Steady on!

http://digitaldemocracy.parliament.uk/chapter/summary#main-content
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Yes, it should go on the MySpace or something.
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"The goal of this project is to create a git repository representing the Unix source code history, starting from the 1970s and ending in the modern time."

https://github.com/dspinellis/unix-history-repo
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This will make reading the Lions book so much simpler!
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Programmatically generated recipes! /cc +James Burt​
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So that's where they got these scripts from....
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzjR0yL4f0Y
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Tom Hume

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I preordered an Amazon Echo[1] when it was first announced early this year, and it turned up just over a week ago. Here's a few first impressions after using it for a week:

- Setup was very easy. Plug it in, download an app, connect it to the wifi network through that... Done.
- I like the look of it. It's a beautiful, if slightly stern, cylindrical monolith which sits comfortably atop a wooden box in the corner of our living room. - The curved black metal reminds me of what I liked about the Nexus Q.
- The voice detection is great: I can speak at quite low volume from the other side of the room and it hears me. I can be playing music loud, tell it to stop, and it hears me. Those 7 microphones Amazon put inside are doing a good job.
- I also like that I can speak naturally, without needing to wait for a response giving me permission to continue: less "Alexa... ... ... Play my news briefing" and more "Alexa, play my news briefing". It feels conversational.
- Addressing a plausibly human name feels good. I'm much more comfortable talking to Alexa than saying "OK Google", "OK Moto", or even "Siri". Fewer syllables than OK Google, too. If I had a friend IRL called Alexa, it might be a bit weird.
- When it detects that you've started talking to it, it responds by flashing its top-surface LEDs around in a circle - a great signal that you're being heard which doesn't involve interrupting the conversation (compared to the bleep that Google voice search uses for the same purpose, which can feel like a slightly assertive pause - software clearing its throat to let you know it's there).
- Those LEDs are also used as a progress indicator when it's looking up answers online, another useful hint that the tiny monolith is communing on my behalf. They stay lit whilst it talks to you.
- Responses seem blindingly fast - it seems to take less than half a second to find answers to most questions.
- It's (obviously) way faster to start talking to Alexa than it is to get my phone out and unlock it, or to raise my wrist to my mouth. Fast is better than slow.
- There's something nice about the Echo having a permanent place in the living room. I'm always addressing something (someone?), rather than speaking through a device to a being that's somewhere else, or everywhere, or nowhere.
- My lack of commitment to the Amazon ecosystem stops me from playing my music on the Echo - which is a shame, because I can imagine it'd be great being able to do so. I'm already wondering about the viability of syncing my Play Music library into Amazon.
- Fantastic if limited podcast integration: "Alexa, play my flash news briefing" starts a roundup of the BBC news and local weather. "Play the latest RadioLab" does just that. Beyond this, the search for podcasts isn't so great - I can't seem to find some of the more obscure ones I might want (e.g. A16z), and when I ask for them it seems that Alexa does a search across my music. Better search across podcasts please!
- The shopping list integration and reordering of supplies seems good, but I've not really tried it yet. As with the Dash project, I think the aim here is to have Amazon make decisions about when to ship items to customers and for it to control batching of them (versus today's world where we individually batch a shopping list into an order, so losing the benefit of any shipping that could be shared with other nearby customers). 
- The companion app feels a bit poor: it's sluggish (I sit on a loading screen for too long watching a spinner when it starts), and crashes occasionally, and the first screen list of my recent searches feels more creepy than helpful.
- The app seems to list all the apps it integrates with (TuneIn, Pandora, etc). I can start a podcast playing from one of these (though having started it, I couldn't control volume from my phone - irritating) but this feels like a stopgap: it won't scale as Amazon add integrations, voice search across these has to improve.
- There's a tucked-away "Connected Home" menu, in which you can tie WeMo and Hue devices up to voice control. I've bought a few WeMo plug switches for our coffee machine[1] and the DropCam which watches the cats whilst I'm away. Rigging them was super-simple. I'm already more inclined to tell my coffee machine to turn off than to bother flicking the switch. I may be abnormal here.
- Commands have a simple verbal acknowledgement: "ok". When you give a command and the Echo is playing audio, audio is faded out and in nicely.
- Why rig up the coffee machine? Real User Problem: leaving home, walking for 10 minutes, turning to each other and saying "did you turn the coffee machine off?"
- Related: I want to be able to talk to the Echo through my phone when I am out, and give her commands remotely.
- You can set up groups of devices and control them with a single name too. "Turn off the lights" etc.
- There's support for multiple Amazon accounts in there: I can invite other people to join the household, at which point we can have individual preferences for our flash news briefing, share a shopping list, share content, etc. Not tried this yet.
- Echo comes with a small remote control. I've not used it yet, but there's a nice nod towards the intended use there: it comes with a holder which is magnetized and attaches neatly to the kitchen fridge.
- Overall, I'm impressed. The Echo carves itself a really interesting niche; I'm sold on the notion of giving it a permanent space in my living room, and am looking forward to seeing where it goes beyond 1.0. I can imagine starting to use Amazon for lower-value items like washing powder, purely out of convenience.

The biggest weakness which worries me is the media tie-in to Amazon ecosystem; I should imagine they lag a long way behind iTunes and Play, and that new users are unlikely to switch to Amazon for Echo.

Observation when re-reading the above: I started out talking about Echo, but slipped into referring to Alexa and personalizing the writing (fixed). Nass and Reeves[2], take a bow.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/oc/echo/
[2] http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Media_Equation

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Tom Hume

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Tired of having to put the food in your own mouth? Let us do it for you. Launching in San Francisco. Join the Wait List. How it Works. You sign up. We have an initial visit where we assess the size of the silver spoon in your mouth. You never have to worry about feeding yourself again.
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http://www.theverge.com/2015/6/4/8729943/laughing-and-crying-my-way-through-the-new-google-photos

"The film itself is a new kind of uncanny valley for digital artifacts: Assistant and its algorithms combined these clips in a way that no reasonable person would attempt. Ever. The result is surreal, random, creepy, sad, and oddly funny.

...

I’ve played it over and over. And the message of the strange film that Assistant made for me is clear: my future lies with my young family, with my children and the things they build. Grace and Grumpy will both be gone soon. Death and loss are a part of life, and we all have to keep running, around and around, forward through the sun.

I saved it to my library."
I started using Google Photos after it first launched last week. I was immediately impressed for all the reasons that Casey Newton mentioned in his review: simplicity, intuitive navigation and...
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"I’ve been testing Google Photos with a few thousand pics from recent holidays and family events. The behind-the-scenes Assistant feature is downright magical (to borrow another Apple buzzword). It combined five separate videos I shot of my daughter’s gymnastics competition into an almost perfect one-minute highlight reel set to music. Amazingly, it identified her amongst all the other children of the same age and wearing the same uniform, culminating with a still photo of her on the trophy stand.

I was blown away, again and again."

http://www.theverge.com/2015/6/2/8704137/google-photos-surprise-and-delight
As unofficial corporate mottos go, "Surprise & Delight" is to Apple as "Don’t be Evil" is to Google. Apple cites the phrase regularly at earnings calls, company emails, and most prominently in...
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Tom Hume

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Paging +James Burt and MechaPoet 2.0 ...
 
This is wonderful; neural network setup producing wonderful results; one example is training it on wikipedia and it ends up producing valid XML pseudo articles.  Another is training it on Linux kernel source, and it ends up producing C code that looks appealingly complex until you try and figure it out (even with bogus comments).
http://karpathy.github.io/2015/05/21/rnn-effectiveness/
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Oh god. I basically need a clone to do all the fun stuff I'd do if I didn't have to work.
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Podcasts Seem to Show Audience Engagement That Other Media Would Envy

http://adage.com/article/internet-week-new-york/golden-age-podcasts-audience-engagement-king/298708/
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Tom Hume

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A few years on, the paper Des Watson and I wrote based on my Master's dissertation is finally technically published in an edititon online[1]. It was online before as an Early Access thingy. I don't really understand what the difference is between these two states of Being Online, but what the hey. Apparently another year until it gets into print. Either academic publishing timescales are odd, or Someone is trying to tell me Something, or both.

[1] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/spe.v45.4/issuetoc
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"academic publishing timescales are odd" < this.
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Have him in circles
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Work
Occupation
Product Manager
Skills
"A janitor, essentially": https://medium.com/p/664d83ee702e
Employment
  • Google
    Product Manager, 2012 - present
    Started out in the Android Apps team. Took Auto Awesome Movies from concept to launch, shipped Quickoffice for Android Kitkat, merged it with Google Docs for Android. Moved to Android Platform team in 2014, working on System UI. Responsible for Android home screen and setup experiences.
  • Future Platforms
    2000 - 2011
    Co-founded, ran, and eventually sold this software company, which built gorgeous mobile apps for Palm Pilot to Android and iPhone, and everything in between. EVERYTHING.
  • Good Technology
    1995 - 2000
    Graduated from web all-rounder to technical dogsbody, before spending a year spinning off a division looking at mobile apps in 1999.
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
San Francisco, US
Previously
San Jose, US - London, UK - Brighton, UK - Reading, UK
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Story
Tagline
Long-time squawk box software chap. Snagged on frowns, and slowly dawns.
Introduction
Internet and mobile software guy, wannabe AI geek.

Career path: BBC Micro (8) -> BBSs (16) -> FidoNet (17) -> Linux (18) -> Web (20) -> WAP (26) (sorry) -> mobile apps (27) -> University (38) -> Google (39)

Hobbies: running, reading, (writing), Aikido, airsoft.

Living in the Bay Area since 2013. Heart still in Brighton, UK.
Bragging rights
Built, ran and sold Future Platforms, (once) one of the UK's first and best mobile software houses. Wrote Java for Kylie, back in the day.
Education
  • University of Sussex
    MSc Advanced Computer Science, 2011 - 2012
  • Lancing College
    1987 - 1992
Basic Information
Gender
Male
Birthday
September 22
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