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One of the more interesting problems facing startups today is the double bind that cloud computing offers innovative new software companies.
On the one hand, deploying new innovative software in the cloud is a godsend for startups trying to appease the IT department’s often obstructive attitude toward new software. This is particularly true of anything that requires IT resources to install and manage.
On the other hand, being able to support a newly developed cloud-based offering means building and deploying a cloud infrastructure with the up-time and redundancy that cloud customers have come to expect, before a single contract is signed and a single customer dollar has been put in the bank. It’s a daunting dilemma for those three guys in a garage with a great idea that they’re trying to turn into a software product.
Herein lies Microsoft’s biggest cloud opportunity: Azure has a role to fill as a low-cost, Windows-ready deployment option for new cloud computing offerings. With Azure as the deployment platform, startups can offer 99%-plus up time, failover capacity, and all the other terms and conditions that can make a fledgling startup’s support infrastructure look like a seasoned cloud-based offering.
This isn’t just good for start-ups and Microsoft. The beauty of having an enterprise-class cloud infrastructure at the disposal of software startups is that this partnership will go a long way toward facilitating the uptake of innovative new software inside the enterprise.
The problem is that the innovator’s dilemma in many companies revolves around the shifting roles of IT and the line of business in the acquisition of new capabilities – a shift aided and abetted by the companies that are developing new, exciting software products.
More and more, the line of business has the budget and authority to acquire new software that can provide specific business value to a specific business function or class of business user. If only they can convince IT to let them deploy the software they want.
The problem is that IT tends to be wary of new software from small startups that requires IT support and IT resources. In many cases the line of business user that wants to work with a start-up has to run an IT gauntlet. This gauntlet is intended to preserve the sanctity of the IT department’s security and privacy rules. But in the end it also does an excellent job of short-circuiting attempts to acquire best-of-breed applications from unknown start-up companies.
The fact that it’s a Microsoft cloud – built on top of the company’s multi-billion dollar infrastructure investment – will attract a lot to developers looking for a secure, safe, scalable cloud infrastructure, and then some. Azure offering of key Microsoft stack services like SQL Server, Communications Services, and other .NET services makes it an attractive development environment for new software startups eager to focus their resources on their specific IP and leave the infrastructure/back office issues to Microsoft.
How soon will Azure start to impact the start-up world – and thereby the consumption of innovative software in the line of business?
Based on what I saw last fall at Microsoft’s developers’ conference, it won’t be until later this year at best. The issue of how fast a complex application can be deployed on Azure needs to be resolved – the demo I saw took minutes to deploy a simple application that displayed “Hello World” on a user’s screen. The ability of Azure to offer service levels that a startup can literally bet its company on remains to be seen as well.
But once these and several other basic issues are resolved, Microsoft has a helluva opportunity on its hands. The innovators/developers desperately need a platform that will off-load a lot of cloud deployment issues to a big partner, and the innovators/consumers need their software to be running in a cloud environment that won’t give IT conniptions.
Azure could be just the ticket to bring these two needs together in a single cloud-based offering. And the sooner they can do it, the better for customers, start-ups, and Microsoft itself.
You're reading Microsoft Azure: Making The Cloud Safe For Innovation
Making TB the Next Polio BU team lands $21 million NIH grant to study the disease
MED’s Jerrold Ellner hopes his team of international researchers will find biomarkers that identify who is at risk of developing TB and who is cured of the infectious disease. Photo by Jackie Ricciardi
When Jerrold Ellner started working in infectious disease, schistosomiasis was a greater concern to international health professionals than tuberculosis. Fast forward a few decades and TB is now among the greatest public health threats worldwide.
There are nine million new cases and three million deaths annually from the disease, says Ellner, a BU School of Medicine professor of medicine and chief of Boston Medical Center‘s infectious diseases section. Most troubling is that 500,000 of these cases are multidrug-resistant, meaning they don’t respond to the most effective antibiotics and are more complicated and expensive to treat. An overwhelming majority of these cases and almost all deaths occur in resource-limited nations.
One third of the world’s population has had a positive skin test for tuberculosis, but only 5 percent of those who test positive move from a latent to an active infection. The mystery for scientists like Ellner is: which 5 percent? Right now, he and his colleagues have no way of identifying these individuals, who are essentially the needles in a haystack of two to three billion people.
The good news is that once people develop active TB, the vast majority of them can be cured with a six-month regimen of antibiotics. Those TB infections that are multidrug-resistant require a more toxic cocktail of antibiotics over a longer period of time, up to 24 months for particularly stubborn cases. People fighting drug-resistant TB in developing nations usually must quit working, travel long distances to medical facilities, and adhere strictly to a costly drug regimen that often has debilitating side effects, but no guarantee of a cure. It’s enough to make patients throw in the towel before treatment is complete, and make doctors wish there were a concrete way to determine when a patient is cured.
Resolving these two issues—finding a way to identify which people with a latent TB infection will develop an active case, and determining an endpoint for successful TB treatment—are the goals of a seven-year, $21 million grant that Ellner and his international team of scientists received from the National Institutes of Health last summer. Their research is divided into four projects; two studying latent and persistent TB in humans in Brazil, China, and South Africa, and two studying latent and persistent TB in rabbits, which, Ellner says, “reflects human disease and allows us to look at drug treatment and penetration into tissue in lesions.” The lab work will also help scientists answer key questions about the bacteria’s genetics and how or where the disease strikes.
“What I consider the current Holy Grail of TB research is a biomarker that you could use to take someone that you know is infected with TB and predict that this person is at risk of developing active TB,” Ellner says. “If we could say this person is at risk or this person is cured, we could talk about treatment, or preventive therapy.”
If Ellner’s team is successful, TB could be the world’s next polio. “We could eliminate TB by 2050,” he says. “If you can eradicate the latent reservoir, it means you prevent further transmission. When people reactivate their TB, they infect another 20 people, and then the problem exists for another generation. But if you treat the people and prevent them from developing infectious TB, then you can really stop it.”
Brazil, South Africa, and China were chosen as research sites because of TB’s large presence in their populations, Ellner says, and because they are middle-income countries with strong research infrastructures. South Africa and China have a greater percentage of multidrug-resistant cases, while Brazil has more cases that respond to first-line antibiotics. “There’s so much TB in these countries,” he says, “and you’d rather work in an area where it’s a major public health problem, because the things that you find will be relevant in those populations.”
Patients will be followed over the course of their treatment at each site. Researchers will collect blood samples and conduct PET/CT scans, which detect inflammation in soft tissues like the lung and lymph nodes. “The more activity on PET scans, the more likelihood of a patient developing active TB down the line,” says grant coinvestigator Karen Jacobson, a MED assistant professor of medicine.
Ellner’s Holy Grail could help resolve the mystery of the 5 percent whose latent infections will become active. “If we could try to identify the many infected and target preventive therapies for those few, then we’d really be in business,” says Edward Jones-Lopez, a MED assistant professor of medicine, another grant coinvestigator.
For patients already undergoing treatment for active TB, “PET scans could be used as interim indicators of relapse,” Jacobson says. “We could find biomarkers in the blood to correlate with these PET scan results. Blood biomarkers could then be used to better stratify who looks really cured versus who’s more at risk of relapse.” Doctors could then adjust treatment regimens to fit patients’ progress.
“We hope that we can eliminate the disease in the United States and then abroad,” says Robert Horsburgh, a School of Public Health professor of epidemiology, biostatistics, and medicine and a member of Ellner’s team. “But without better tools, we’re never going to make any progress eliminating it in the rest of world. We did it with smallpox and polio, and we’d like to do it with TB.”
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Following a special performance of Mike Daisey’s monologue “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs”, the Woz took the stage for a Q&A session with the audience. His take on the cloud (and consequentially Apple’s iCloud)?
TIMELY: Conveniently, AT&T just suffered what one blog described as a “massive outage”.
Robert MacPherson, reporting for Agence France-Presse, writes that Woz is losing sleep over the cloud’s potential to seriously disrupt our lives should anything go terribly wrong:
I really worry about everything going to the cloud. think it’s going to be horrendous. I think there are going to be a lot of horrible problems in the next five years.
Apple did resolve service interruption in a matter of hours, but customers were nevertheless enraged and disgruntled even if their data was kept intact.
But what if it was a longer disruption and you were unable to access your iCloud contacts, calendars and photos for weeks or months?
And what happens if data gets wiped out as a result of poor cloud maintenance?
Who’s responsible? Who do I sue?
And things can always get worse and beyond repair.
It seems these questions are on Woz’s mind, too.
With the cloud, you don’t own anything. You already signed it away through the legalistic terms of service with a cloud provider that computer users must agree to.
Cloud providers confuse customers with pages of legal mumbo jumbo that people just glance over briefly before hitting the “I Agree” button. In case of an incident, the legalities we all easily agreed to usually absolve a cloud provider of any serious repercussions related to loss of data.
The legalities also help these monopolies change service terms per their whim. For example, I found out a couple times that the apps and movies I had previously bought were no longer available on iTunes.
No, I wasn’t backing up anything back then.
I know, my fault.
I want to feel that I own things. A lot of people feel, ‘Oh, everything is really on my computer,’ but I say the more we transfer everything onto the web, onto the cloud, the less we’re going to have control over it.
He nailed it.
I don’t own much these days.
Apple’s iCloud facility in North Carolina that holds all your digital stuff.
Apple’s iCloud facility in North Carolina that holds all your digital stuff.
I tend to rent as much as I can in order to free myself from the burden and stress that comes with owning things.
I pay for my music through Spotify.
My iCoud keeps my iOS devices backed up and in sync.
Dropbox has my important documents the Google cloud stores my digital life from Android devices.
Yeah, I also back up my Mac to a 3TB Time Capsule with Time Machine, but not everything that is synced wirelessly via iCloud (or some other cloud) gets stored on my Mac.
If anything goes south with the cloud, my digital life will take a hit.
That’s why I don’t feel 100 percent safe all the time and it’s not like I haven’t invested in backup strategies.
I want to believe that Apple is on top of things and well prepared for a major data loss incident.
Perhaps that’s what an upcoming tactical data center is for?
I’m not even remotely prepared for anything like the 2009 Sidekick data loss.
How about you?
Are you an ‘accidental’ project manager who finds Project Online to betoo complex for your needs?Maybe you are a manager of a small team looking for a simple, online tool to manage small to mid-sizeprojects and task lists? If so, the latest addition to Microsoft’s family of Project products, ‘Project for theWeb’ might bethe answer to your prayers!Project for the Web is the perfect tool for teams looking for a project management tool that has asimple interface, is integrated with Microsoft 365 applications, is collaborative, and gets the job donewithout the need for extensive training.Project for the Web fills a gap. If you find Microsoft Planner too basic for your needs but Project Onlinetoo complex and expensive, then Project for the Web is for you. Built on the Power Platform, Project forthe Web harnesses the strength of Power Apps, such as Power Automate and Power BI, to add anadditional layer of automation and reporting capabilities.
In this course, we will explore the basic project offerings from Microsoft. We’ll start out by looking atMicrosoft Planner. As afree app that’s included with our Microsoft 365 subscription, we can use Plannerto manage, assign and monitor team tasks.
Too basic for your needs? Consider Project for the Web. We will run through all the different ways wecan create new projects including creating a project from scratch and using built-in templates. You’lllearn how to add tasks, give the project structure with summary and subtasks, create dependencies,assign buckets and labels, and view our project Gantt chart in the timeline view. We’ll also check outhow to create roadmaps to have visibility across all projects we are managing.
In the final section, we will look at creating Power BI reports based on our Project for the Web data.We’ll see how to create a link to the Dataverse, download and modify the Power BI report template,modify and format visualizations, build our own custom reports, and how to share our reports bypublishing them as dashboards to the Power BI service.
If you would like to follow along with the Project for theWeb and Power BI sections of this course, youwill need to make sure you have the relevant subscriptions to these applications.
Create a plan in Microsoft Planner from scratch and from an Outlook group
Add members to a plan
Create and edit task details
Organize tasks into buckets and assign labels
Update task progress and priority
Attach files to tasks
Access plans from Microsoft Teams
Use Smart Backgrounds
Export a plan to Excel
Project for the Web
Navigate the Project for the Web interface
Import a project from Project Online
Create a Project from a template and from scratch
Customize column headings.
Set the Start and End dates of a Project
Create new tasks and assign members to tasks
Add structure with summary and subtasks
Use Timeline view to modify tasks
Update task progress
Add attachments, notes, and checklist items
Group tasks into custom buckets
Create task dependencies
Categorize tasks with labels
Hide and remove columns
Share projects and tasks with others
Visualize project plans in a Microsoft Teams channel
Create a project roadmap
Project for the Web: Reporting with Power BI
Create a connection between Power BI and Project for the Web (Dataverse)
Locate and download the Power BI reporting template
Navigate the Power BI interface
Understand how visualizations are built and formatted
Create slicers to filter report data
Work with tables and matrix tables
Update/refresh report data
Build a custom report
Publish a report to the Power BI service
Create a dashboard to display key metrics.Goals
Explain what Project for the Web is and why it is useful
Compare Planner, Project for the Web, and Project Online
Differentiate between the different Project Plans
Introduction Improving Text Representation
Accurate representation of text is necessary as it allows the machine to understand the meaning and intent of the text and allows us to perform various tasks such as text classification, language translation, and text generation.
As we know to input textual data into the NLP models, we need to convert that textual data to their embeddings. And the results of these models depend on these embeddings only.Data2Vec 2.0
Data2Vec2.0 is an updated release for the model Data2vec. Data2vec is a self-supervised learning algorithm, meaning it can learn from vision, text, and speech without needing explicit labels. Self-supervised learning algorithms learn by using the inherent structure of the data itself.
Data2Vec2.0 has shown tremendous results for tasks like text understanding image segmentation and speech translation task.
Similar to the original data2vec algorithm, data2vec 2.0 predicts contextualized representations of the data, meaning they take the entire training data into account.
Data2Vec2.0 is an improved version then all its predecessors as it is way faster than any other model and does not compromise accuracy.
For speech, the test was done on the LibriSpeech speech recognition benchmark, where it performed more than 11 times faster than wav2vec 2.0 with similar accuracy. For natural language processing (NLP), evaluation was done on the General Language Understanding Evaluation (GLUE) benchmark, which achieved the same accuracy as RoBERTa and BERT.
The architecture of Data2Vec 2.0
To know more about the topic, refer to this linkNew and Improved Embedding Model
Text-embedding-ada-002 was recently launched by openAI. It has outperformed all the previous embedding models launched by openAI.
Text-embedding-ada-002 is trained using a supervised learning approach, which means that it is trained on a labeled dataset that consists of text input and corresponding targets.
The model uses a transformer-based architecture designed to process sequential data such as text. The transformer architecture allows the model to effectively capture the relationships between words and phrases in the text and generate embeddings that accurately reflect the meaning of the input.
The new model, text-embedding-ada-002, replaces five separate models for text search, text similarity, and code search and is priced way lower than all the previous models.
The context length of the new model is increased, which makes it more convenient to work with large documents, while the embedding size of the new model is decreased, making it more cost-effective.Image and Video Generation Imagen
Imagen, developed by Google and launched in 2023, is a text-to-image diffusion model. It takes in a description of an image and produces realistic images.
Diffusion models are generative models that produce high-resolution images. These models work in two steps. In the first step, some random gaussian noises are added to the image and then in the second step, the model learns to reverse the process by removing the noise, thereby generating new data.
Imagen encodes the text into encodings and then uses the diffusion model to generate an image. A series of diffusion models are used to produce high-resolution images.
It is a really interesting technology as you can visualize your creative thinking just by describing an image and generating whatever you want in moments.
Now let me show you guys the output image I got using a certain text
Text: A marble statue of a Koala DJ in front of a marble statue of a turntable. The Koala wears large marble headphones.
Output Image of a Koala DJ by Imagen
I know that was something really fascinating, Right!!. To know more about the model, refer to this linkDreamFusion
DreamFusion, developed by Google in 2023, can generate 3D objects based on text input.
The 3D objects created are of high quality and are exportable. They can be further processed in common 3D tools.
Video of some 3D images produced by DreamFusion
The 3D model created is based on 2D images from the generative image model Imagen so you also don’t need any 3D training data for the model.
Interesting, Right!!, Now go and refer to this link to learn more about the model.DALL-E2
DALL-E2 is an AI system developed by OpenAI and launched in 2023 that can create realistic images and art based on textual descriptions.
We have already seen the same technologies, but this system is too worth exploring and spending some time. I found DALL-E2 as one of the best models present, which works on image generation.
It uses a GPT-3 modified to generate images and is trained on millions of images from over the internet.
DALL-E uses NLP techniques to understand the meaning of the input text and computer vision techniques to generate the image. It is trained on a large dataset of images and their associated textual descriptions, which allows it to learn the relationships between words and visual features. DALL-E can generate coherent images with the input text by learning these relationships.
Let me show you how DALL-E2 works
Input text – Teddy bears
Image of Teddy bears produced by DALL-E2
Here is the link to the research paper if you are interested to read in detail here.Conversational Agents
Here are some top Conversational models launched in 2023LaMDA: Towards Safe, Grounded, and High-Quality Dialog Models for Everything
LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue and Answering), developed by Google, is a language model designed for answering and dialog tasks.
This model can be used in various ways, such as chatbots, customer service, Virtual Assistants, etc.
One of the key features of LaMDA is its ability to generate coherent responses grounded in the input text. This is achieved through the use of a transformer-based language model that is trained on a large dataset of human conversations. The model is able to understand the context of the conversation and generate appropriate responses based on the content of the input text.
LaMDA can generate high-quality responses on a wide variety of topics and open-ended questions.
The developers have also kept in mind the sanity of responses generated by the model, and it avoids generating offensive and biased content.
I’m sure you guys would want to see a demo of this amazing bot. So here it is!
Conversation with LaMDA
For in-depth knowledge, refer to the link hereChatGPT
ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI, was recently released in late November and is one most trending and viral AI product launched in 2023. Almost all data professionals are trying and researching this amazing chatbot.
ChatGPT is based on the GPT-3 (Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3) language model, a large, transformer-based language model trained on a massive dataset of human-generated text.
ChatGPT can generate coherent responses and can, understand the context of the conversation, and generate appropriate responses based on the content of the input text.
It is designed to carry conversations with people. Some of its features include answering follow-up questions for various topics.
The accuracy and the quality of the responses generated by the model are incomparable to any other chatbot.
Here is the demo of how ChatGPT works
Conversation by chatGPT
Refer to this link to learn more about the model hereAutomatic Speech Recognition Whisper
Whisper, developed by OpenAI, is a technology that helps in the conversion of Speech to text.
It has multiple uses like Virtual assistants, voice recognition software, etc. Moreover, it enables transcription in multiple languages and translation from those languages into English.
Whisper is trained on 680,000 hours of multilingual and multitask data collected from the web. The use of a large and diverse dataset has led to increased accuracy of the model.
Whisper uses encoder-decoder architecture in which the input audio is split into chunks of 30 seconds, converted into a log-Mel spectrogram, and then passed into an encoder. A decoder is trained to predict the corresponding text caption.
Whisper can be trained on large datasets of speech and transcription pairs to improve its accuracy and adapt to different accents, languages, and speaking styles.
The architecture of Whisper
SourceTransfer Learning in NLP
Transfer learning is a go-to approach for building high-performance models. In transfer learning, the model is trained on large and general datasets and is fine-tuned for our related task. It has been widely used in natural language processing (NLP) to improve models’ performance on almost each and every task. There has been significant research in 2023 around improving the transfer learning techniques. We will discuss the top 2 breakthroughs in this area now.Zero-Shot Text Classification with Self-Training
As a result of recent developments in big pre-trained language models, the importance of zero-shot text categorization has increased.
Particularly, zero-shot classifiers developed using natural language inference datasets have gained popularity due to their promising outcomes and ready availability.
You can read more about this approach in this conference paper.Improving In-Context Few-Shot Learning via Self-Supervised Training
In-context few-shot learning refers to learning a new task using only a few examples within the context of a larger, related task. One way to improve the performance of in-context few-shot learning is through the use of self-supervised training.
Self-supervised learning involves training a model on a task using only input data and without explicit human-provided labels. The goal is to learn meaningful representations of the input data that can be used for downstream tasks.
In the context of in-context few-shot learning, self-supervised training can be used to pre-train a model on a related task, such as image classification or language translation, to learn useful data representations. This pre-trained model can then be fine-tuned on the few-shot learning task using only a few labeled examples.
Read in detail about the approach in this paper.Conclusion
Storage Explorer simplifies administering Azure blobs, queues, tables, and files. It’s a program that facilitates access, control over, and manipulation of information saved in an Azure storage account. Working with data stored in Azure Storage is a breeze thanks to this Azure Storage Explorer. Storage Explorer gives you access to your Azure cloud storage account without cost. It’s a handy utility that facilitates quick access to and control over your Azure Storage documents. These days, cloud storage in the form of Azure Storage is essential. The ability to safeguard your data or applications is a major factor in the success of Azure storage.Azure Storage Explorer
Microsoft Azure Storage Explorer is great for browsing and managing your cloud storage account, including adding new containers and downloading or uploading files. The Azure Storage Explorer is a graphical user interface (GUI) tool with many capabilities to facilitate software development. While using Azure, it’s simple to link your storage accounts to any gadget. Managing numerous storage accounts is a breeze with the help of Microsoft’s Azure Storage Explorer. Microsoft Azure storage is growing in popularity due to its adaptability, security, and scalability. It’s a simple cloud storage management service. The Azure Storage Explorer is a useful tool for quickly gaining access to data and modifying it as needed. It’s a free program that works with many different OSes, including Windows, Linux, Mac OS, and more.Advantages of Azure Storage Explorer
Even though there are many cloud storage solutions out there, most companies favour Microsoft’s Azure platform. Storage on Microsoft’s Azure cloud is in high demand because of the service’s scalability, consistency, and massive capacity. To get started with Azure Storage Explorer, simply download it and set it up, and you can get the following −
Files and folders can be viewed, uploaded, deleted, and downloaded using this.
It’s also a convenient way to set up and control your storage space, containers, and blobs.
Very safe, as it encrypts all data in Azure StorageStorage.
Use this robust utility to take charge of your Azure Storage space.
Cloud management is made simple with Azure’s attention to hardware upkeep, patching, and emergency fixes.
Get instant access to, and control over everything stored in your cloud service of choice.
The files are simply accessible in your cloud storage account for both uploading and downloading.
A cloud storage account allows you to upload and download files from any computer with internet access.
When it comes to managing your Azure storage account, you won’t find a better tool than Storage Explorer.How to install Microsoft Azure Storage Explorer?
Azure Storage Explorer has a quick and simple installation process −
Visit the Main Azure Storage Explorer Page. First, choose your operating system from the drop-down menu.
Then there will be a pop-up agreement box; select “I accept the agreement” and then Install” to proceed.
Choose the box and hit Finish to launch the freshly installed program.Steps for accessing Azure Storage Explorer
Follow the steps below to your newly installed copy of Azure Storage Explorer to the web-based Azure management console. Working with this is a lot less strenuous and more pleasant.
To do this, use the button labelled “Connect to Azure Storage,” then use the Choose Resource panel to choose “Subscription” in the Azure Storage dialogue that displays.
Now choose the Azure environment you want to sign into.
You can connect to either the global Azure cloud or a regional cloud, or even an Azure Stack instance in your region. Follow this by selecting the Next button.
After you’ve finished using the page, open it again and go to Azure Storage Explorer.Conclusion
The Azure Storage Explorer is perfect for this purpose. It provides an adaptable means of storing vast quantities of data on the cloud, and it may be used for a wide range of purposes. Together with its amazing capacity for storing data, Azure Storage also serves as a dependable means of sending messages, a cloud-based filing system, a NoSQL database, and a vast ascendable object store for knowledge objects. When it comes to managing your Azure Storage, you can’t do better than with Azure Storage Explorer. The Azure Storage Explorer is the tool to use if you want to manage your Azure StorageStorage with minimal effort.
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