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Steve Akins
Works at SteveAkins: Digital Marketing, SEO, Social, Developer, Entrepreneur, Struggling Poet :), Gastronome, Explorer
Lives in Chicago, IL, United States
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Steve Akins

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“How studying insects may lead to smarter drones” Tom Daniel on  +PBS NewsHour via +Yann LeCun 
 
A terrific 8-minute piece on PBS NewsHour describing the research of UW CSE adjunct professor (and UW Biology professor) Tom Daniel: “Aviation technology continues to evolve, and in recent years, there's been a big push by both private companies and the military to make more sophisticated ...
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Steve Akins

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Relation extraction is the task of assigning a semantic relationship between a pair of arguments - for example, a relationship between the phrases “Ottawa” and “Canada” is “is the capital of”.  While relation extraction systems work accurately for English and a few other languages, there is relatively little work in developing such systems for most of the world's language.

However, there are translation systems (such as Google Translate) between English and many other languages, so one can translate text from a non-English language to English, perform relation extraction and project these relations back to the foreign language.

To facilitate researchers working on natural language processing and to encourage novel applications in a wide variety of languages, we are releasing a dataset of automatically extracted relations from the Wikipedia corpus in 61 languages, along with the manually annotated relations in 3 languages (French, Hindi and Russian). Head over to the Google Research blog to learn more.
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"Your search results just got more real time: See Tweets in Google Search on mobile" http://goo.gl/5Yf49U  👍 via +Google +Sundar Pichai  
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Just wanted to confirm that the rumors are true -- I’m excited to be running Google’s Photos and Streams products!  It’s important to me that these changes are properly understood to be positive improvements to both our products and how they reach users.
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Google has announced that the latest version of its Panda Update -- a filter designed to penalize "thin" or poor content from ranking well -- has been rele
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Building a deeper understanding of images

A few weeks ago we shared the results of the 2014 ImageNet Large Scale Visual Recognition Challenge, in which a team of Googlers, GoogLeNet, used a deep learning training system to automatically classify images and detect objects from Internet sources (http://goo.gl/mrCLCH).

Today on the Google Research Blog, GoogLeNet team member +Christian Szegedy offers a deeper look at the techniques the team used to place first in the classification and detection tasks of the competition, including the use of the DistBelief infrastructure (http://goo.gl/28ufU5), which makes it possible to train neural networks in a distributed manner.

Head over to the Research blog, linked below, to learn more about the techniques that will enable even better image understanding any place where it is useful to understand what is in an image as well as where things are.
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Steve Akins

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Today, Project Loon turns two! It’s been quite a journey—16 million kilometers to be precise—since we first connected sheep farmer Charles Nimmo to the Internet during our 2013 pilot test.

Our earliest tests started back in 2011, using a weather balloon and basic, off-the-shelf radio parts. These tests showed that balloon-powered Internet might just work, but the team knew that weather balloons wouldn't be a long term solution since they aren’t built to last in the stratosphere. So, our balloon enthusiasts got down to work and asked: if we wanted to bring balloon powered Internet to the whole world, what type of balloon would we need to build?

We started by building much, much bigger balloons able to hold equipment capable of beaming connectivity 20 km down to the earth below—starting with our modestly larger early Albatross design, all the way up to our 141-foot-long Hawk and beyond. To ensure there’s always a balloon overhead to provide connection, we needed to build a system that can manufacture these balloons at scale, leading to our latest balloon design, the Nighthawk, the likes of which has never been seen before.

Take a peek into our archives to see how our balloons have developed over time to deal with these challenges, from our very first ‘prehistoric’ balloons all the way to our latest flock design.
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How Emotional Intelligence Became a Key Leadership Skill Excellent http://t.co/BXPDGPSBjI via +JillGeisler
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After nearly 7 years as CFO, I will be retiring from Google to spend more time with my family.  Yeah, I know you've heard that line before.  We give a lot to our jobs.  I certainly did.  And while I am not looking for sympathy, I want to share my thought process because so many people struggle to strike the right balance between work and personal life.

This story starts last fall. A very early morning last September, after a whole night of climbing, looking at the sunrise on top of Africa - Mt Kilimanjaro. Tamar (my wife) and I were not only enjoying the summit, but on such a clear day, we could see in the distance, the vast plain of the Serengeti at our feet, and with it the calling of all the potential adventures Africa has to offer. (see exhibit #1 - Tamar and I on Kili).

And Tamar out of the blue said "Hey, why don't we just keep on going". Let's explore Africa, and then turn east to make our way to India, it's just next door, and we're here already. Then, we keep going; the Himalayas, Everest, go to Bali, the Great Barrier Reef... Antarctica, let's go see Antarctica!?" Little did she know, she was tempting fate.

I remember telling Tamar a typical prudent CFO type response- I would love to keep going, but we have to go back. It's not time yet, There is still so much to do at Google, with my career, so many people counting on me/us - Boards, Non Profits, etc

But then she asked the killer question: So when is it going to be time? Our time? My time? The questions just hung there in the cold morning African air. 

A few weeks later, I was happy back at work, but could not shake away THE question: When is it time for us to just keep going? And so began a reflection on my/our life. Through numerous hours of cycling last fall (my introvert happy place) I concluded on a few simple and self-evident truths:

First, The kids are gone.  Two are in college, one graduated and in a start-up in Africa. Beautiful young adults we are very proud of. Tamar honestly deserves most of the credit here. She has done a marvelous job. Simply marvelous. But the reality is that for Tamar and I, there will be no more Cheerios encrusted minivan, night watch because of ear infections, ice hockey rinks at 6:00am. Nobody is waiting for us/needing us. 

Second, I am completing this summer 25-30 years of nearly non-stop work (depending on how you wish to cut the data). And being member of FWIO, the noble Fraternity of Worldwide Insecure Over-achievers, it has been a whirlwind of truly amazing experiences. But as I count it now, it has also been a frenetic pace for about 1500 weeks now. Always on - even when I was not supposed to be. Especially when I was not supposed to be. And am guilty as charged - I love my job (still do), my colleagues, my friends, the opportunities to lead and change the world.

Third, this summer, Tamar and I will be celebrating our 25th anniversary. When our kids are asked by their friends about the success of the longevity of our marriage, they simply joke that Tamar and I have spent so little time together that "it's really too early to tell" if our marriage will in fact succeed. 
If they could only know how many great memories we already have together. How many will you say? How long do you have? But one thing is for sure, I want more. And she deserves more. Lots more.

Allow me to spare you the rest of the truths. But the short answer is simply that I could not find a good argument to tell Tamar we should wait any longer for us to grab our backpacks and hit the road - celebrate our last 25 years together by turning the page and enjoy a perfectly fine mid life crisis full of bliss and beauty, and leave the door open to serendipity for our next leadership opportunities, once our long list of travels and adventures is exhausted.

Working at Google is a privilege, nothing less. I have worked with the best of the best, and know that I am leaving Google in great hands. I have made so many friends at Google it's not funny. Larry, Sergey, Eric, thank you for friendship. I am forever grateful for letting me be me, for your trust, your warmth, your support, and for so much laughter through good and not so good times.

To be clear, I am still here. I wish to transition over the coming months but only after we have found a new Googley CFO and help him/her through an orderly transition, which will take some time. 

In the end, life is wonderful, but nonetheless a series of trade offs, especially between business/professional endeavours and family/community. And thankfully, I feel I’m at a point in my life where I no longer have to have to make such tough choices anymore. And for that I am truly grateful. Carpe Diem.


Patrick
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Two awesome ‪#‎roadtrip‬ adventures in the Himalayas ‪#‎travel‬
http://www.natgeotraveller.in/web-exclusive/web-exclusive-month/driving-himachal--two-road-trips-you-must-take-now-42/ by Rishad Mehta  via National Geographic Traveller India Marilyn Terrell 
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Founded by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that actively advances the work of independent storytellers in film and theatre.
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Panda update rolling out

Earlier this week, we started a slow rollout of an improved Panda algorithm, and we expect to have everything done sometime next week. 

Based on user (and webmaster!) feedback, we’ve been able to discover a few more signals to help Panda identify low-quality content more precisely. This results in a greater diversity of high-quality small- and medium-sized sites ranking higher, which is nice.

Depending on the locale, around 3-5% of queries are affected.
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Thanks for the great service, Desiree and Yolanda! You answered my questions and solved the problem fast and efficiently. Much appreciated.
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