Valuable Treasure

For this Ramadan, we have two songs to celebrate the festive aspects of the holy month and to showcase some cross language singing: Harta Berharga ('valuable treasure') by Michela Thea and Bie Zhi Ji ('take care, my friend') by Rani Pancarani. Though Bei Zhi Ji is in Mandarin, the chorus, which sounds like 'Ehsan Boh' is in the Yi language (closer to Burmese, spoken in Yunnan and vicinity). 'Ehsan Boh' also translates as 'take care, my friend'. Wishing Muslim readers Eid Mubarak and an early Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

Ramadan Food Delivery

  • Ramadan and fasting start tomorrow (Tue, Apr 13, 2021).
  • For MY, the latest charts from the MoH aren't looking too great with both the 7-day average of new cases (the dark line in the graph above) and the infectivity rate (the red line) inching upwards.
  • For the risk averse, good opportunity to opt for home cooking or food delivery vs buffets and bazaars.
  • For food delivery, we haven't noticed many deals or promos, and after rummaging around the web a bit, have managed to come up with only one poster: Kedai Cikgu
  • Ramadan break fast probably needs a different delivery model: bulk orders, surge deliveries, working class service vs standard delivery which is posh, on-demand, single-order orientated.
  • Below is a curated list from our Food Delivery post from last year, the outlets shown are likely halal, double-check as necessary.

Food Delivery

Metaverse: The New Internet

  • Old philosophies and modern physics postulate the existence of multiple universes. Sounds esoteric but multi-universes are already here. We have the real world (people, places, activities etc) and we have the online world (profiles, portals, e-transactions etc).
  • The internet is getting a bit ragged: appification and walled gardens leading to the fragmentation of info (ie unsearchable), web pages that are only 25% content (the rest are ads, auto-playing vids and giant drop down menus) and the usual data slurping (install a simple app and it wants to slurp up all your contacts).
  • Under the circumstances, tech and geeks are building a metaverse (to escape or expand to) which includes virtual worlds + AR/VR + internet + possible future verses like for mobility (connected, human scale, efficient, organic vs miles of bland, hard tarmac).
  • Among the early denizens of the metaverse are Sansar (events), Core (games), SecondLife (games), HiFi (audio) and Horizon (social).
  • Catch up on the latest on the metaverse at Real Time Conference (RTC2021) happening Apr 26-28, 2021 online.

RTC Sample Topics
  • Building the Metaverse One Standard at a Time - Nvidia
  • From Virtual Motor Show to Virtual Sales Platform - Endava
  • Standardizing 3D Commerce Asset Creation - Darmstadt
  • Previsualizing the Future with Magic - MagicLab
  • Real-time Live Demo of MetaHuman Creator - Epic
  • How Real-Time is Transforming Animation - Cinesite

Events Update

Major events happening over spring and summer of 2021:

Snow Patrol

Watch as Lisa-Marie Ramm performs Run at the German edition of talent competition The Voice Kids. Run is a song by Scottish-Irish alt-rock band Snow Patrol.

Nvidia GPU Technology Conference

Nvidia will be holding its GPU Technology Conference (GTC21) Apr 12-16, 2021. With a catalog of over 1,000 sessions, it is the biggest virtual conference we have come across. Sample topics:  [GPU=graphics processing unit]
  • Fusion of Thermal and Visible Cameras for Auto Driving - Toyota
  • Creating Cities with CityEngine, USD and Omniverse - Esri
  • Offshore O&G: Drones and Convolutional Neural Networks - Abyss
  • Use of GPUs in Quantitative Derivatives Risk Management - Cboe
  • C19 Treatments in Under 4 Weeks with Deep Learning - Recursion
  • Physical Mockups using 4,000 GPU Distributed Rendering - Renault
  • A New Era in Virtual Cinematography - Rob Legato
  • The AI-on-5G Opportunity: A New Paradigm in Telecoms - NVIDIA
  • Introduction to Omniverse Machinima - NVIDIA [video]
  • Top AI Use Cases by the Most Innovative Retailers - OmniTalk
  • Counterfactual Learning: Ecommerce Recommendations - Grubhub
  • Space and Earth Research Opportunities in Emerging Markets - G42
  • Robotic Composing Hierarchical Objecting-Centric Controllers - CMU
  • Scientists Share Their Discoveries - Mila | Google | Facebook | IDSIA
  • 100x Speedup for Transformers Inference - Hugging Face
  • The Future of Advertising - WPP

Spring FinTech

FinTech conferences coming up in April 2021 (sample topics shown with abridged titles and speakers list; for the Wharton event, the agenda has not been released yet, sample speaker companies shown):

UK Fintech Week (Apr 19-23) info

GreenFin (Apr 13-14) info

Wharton Fintech (Apr 22-23) info
  • Awarded Best Digital Banking Account - Oxygen
  • Get our debit card from a convenience store - Green Dot
  • Invest spare cash from checking (current) account - Finch
  • Autonomous investing (like in autonomous driving) - WF
  • Pool income with friends (modern collectivism?) - Pando

Eurovision Finals

Prominent 2020 events that got postponed to 2021 include the Olympics, the Euro finals, the Dubai expo (which looks like it might happen only in 2022) and the Eurovision song contest. This post's video is France's entry for Eurovision (May 18-22). A moody piece titled Voilà (literally 'here', figuratively 'stepping forward') by Barbara Pravi that blends together song, singer and  performance (the 'shadows' in the vid may represent 'doubts'). A gist:

Here I am
Even if exposed, it is done
Here I am in the noise and the fury
Look at me, my eyes and my hands
All that I have is here, my mouth, my tears
Here I am, here we are

Suez Crisis

  • Image 1: Ever Given's (EG) bow (front) is stuck at the Suez Canal.
  • Image 2: Typical nose of a ship ⇒ EG's bow is buried in the bank.
  • Image 3: Front and back of EG are stuck, no pull or push possible.
  • Spring tide is this Sun and Mon. Salvage crews hope the ship can be floated slightly to allow it to be dislodged from the banks. If that doesn't work, the next spring tide is two weeks away. 
  • Re: the third image, if the water level falls too much (for whatever reason), there will be nothing to support the ship except the two ends ⇒ the bottom could break.
  • Update: [Video] EG freed on Mon (29-Mar-2021).

Those Were The Days

Some songs really come alive when accompanied by an orchestra. Like Дорогой длинною performed here by Marie-Anne Izmajlov and by Sergey Lazarev. The song is the original Russian version of Those Were The Days. The Russian title translates to 'by the long road'. Same figurative meaning as 'those were the days' using the imagery of a long, memorable horse sled ride with a friend in a cold, snow-swept, winter night...those were the days.

Mobility as a Service

Mobility as a Service
Europe is looking to develop Mobility as a Service (MaaS):
  • Seamless: Single sign-on, booking, ticketing for all mobility modes
  • Borderless: Travel out-of -town, interstate, cross-border seamlessly
  • Infrastructure: Framework, platform, policy to enable the above

Future Mobility Conference
SmartMaaS will be holding a 3 day mobility conference starting tomorrow (23-25 Mar 2021). The first day is a closed event, the second day covers Future Mobility, the third day, the open source smart city platform FiWare. Sample topics:

Community Mobility
  • Contemporary vehicles, including EVs, focus on cocooning the driver in ever larger vehicles and metrics like top speed, horsepower, acceleration, gadgetry etc.
  • MaaS could be a community orientated alternative, with a metric like how many pleasant encounters (people, coffee etc) one had on one's journey.

PayTech vs FinTech

The term FinTech has become blaise (nonetheless, an uptick in interest in Q1 2021). At the trenches, it is PayTech that is doing battle: Stripe, PayPal, Square, Adyen, Wise, ewallets (eg Google Pay), and stalwarts Visa and Mastercard. Some latest Pay and FinTech startups:
  • Diem (this is not Libra, which seems to be either defunct or getting launched next week) is a neobank (functions like a bank but is not a fully licensed bank) that identifies itself as 'Bank of Things'. Its unique selling point is a 'pawnshop' component where assets can be converted into cash, in a possible trillion dollar economy.
  • Subaio helps users manage subscriptions. Subs will grow in the future (eg. subscribe to a new EV) and an app that can help users view and manage their multitude of subscriptions would come in very handy, including prompting for renewals, highlighting unexpected hikes, assisting with cancellations, spotting continued billing after cancellations.
  • Promise is a women-led PayTech which empowers government departments and agencies to offer multiple payment options to rate payers. Instead of paying in person at an office or post office, customers could pay using, say, credit card, debit card, online payment, ewallet, kiosk, ATM or cash at a convenience store.

Desk Bop

Recently, we met up with some pals we haven't seen for a year due to the pandemic. Most look trimmer, perhaps due to not being able to gorge down commercial chow as often. Some looked gaunt, possibly because of the lack of social energy one gets from the workplace. Or due to the lack of exercise by not having to run around for meetings, lunches, coffee, errands etc. Solution: Exercise-wise, for a simple workout which you can do right at your desk, just stand up and bop to the above videos.

The first is a dance cover of J'en ai marre by Violetta Sluká. Note the smooth, sinuous movements in contrast to modern genres which tend to be angular and staccato. The second is a jive duet by Kara Tointon and Artem Chigvintsev to the tune of Runaround Sue. (If bugzilla returns big time, maybe we will see a Smule for duet dancing.)

SXSW 2021

SXSW is happening this Tue-Sun, 16-21 Mar, 2021. The creative media focused event encompasses a conference, exhibition and three festivals: film, music, comedy. Sample conference topics:

Surprisingly for an art-creative event, SXSW has managed to attract a sizeable number of country and region exhibitors, including:
  • AR: Export Argentina | ES: Invest in Spain
  • DE: De:Hub Digital Ecosystem | DE: German Innovation
  • DK: Creative Denmark | UK: UK House
  • EU: EU@SXSW | EU: Enrich in USA
  • FI: Business Finland | FI: Visit Finland
  • HK: InvestHK | ID: Archipelageek
  • IE: Enterprise Ireland | JP: Accelerating Japan
  • NL: New Dutch Wave | NO: Nordic Edge

Startup Week

Rather than being slowed by bugzilla, some teams stepped on the gas instead. Techstars has expanded its Startup Weekend to Startup Week. Starting with a college focused Chicago edition happening online next week, Mar 15-19 (Mon-Fri) 2021. Sample topics:

American Anthems

America has a number of unofficial anthems. Featured here are two folksy ones. Battle Hymn of The Republic performed by Advent Heralds. And Dixie in two versions: a shorten one by Kendel Carson and a longer YouTube remix. These two songs perhaps represent two philosophies: The Shepherd and The Ascetic. (Dixie is no longer PC in the US, shown here for the purpose of art only). Other unofficial American anthems include America The Beautiful and God Bless America, The official anthem is The Star Spangled Banner.

Latest EV Tech

Latest EV (deep) tech:

Demand Side Economics

Demand Side Economics
  • Demand side economics is the powering of an economy by customer demand (disposable income etc) while supply side economics, by supplier production (low interest rates etc).
  • On a more personal scale, ponder: did you buy that smartphone because you need it (demand side economics), or did the maker do some great marketing (supply side economics)?
  • In this (backyard economics) post, we explore demand side economics further afield.

Digital Bank
  • Last week, just as we noted not much seems to be happening with digital banks, news arrived point-of-sale supplier Square has launched a new industrial bank, with an initial aim to provide business loans.
  • In contrast to digital banks which are usually established to then acquire customers (suppliers looking for customers), Square's bank offers new services to existing customers who might be seeking bridge loans, trade financing etc (customers looking for suppliers).
  • An example of 'demand side economics'. Ditto Shopfy Capital.

Trouble is A Friend

Challenges ahead? Jannine Weigel, mischievous looks and all, suggests embracing trouble as a friend. The song, Trouble is A Friend, recently spun a dance meme in the East, showcased here by Fern Wang. She and her pal get it right by landing their skips and steps on the beat.

Bugzilla Roulette

  • At some locales, lockdowns are being eased.
  • However, people might be getting the signalling wrong. They think it is an 'all clear' when what the authorities mean is 'go save the economy'.
  • One can already see crowds at eateries chatting away animatedly and lingering at tables, just like the pre-bugzilla days.
  • When they should be taking extra precautions because bugzilla is still lurking around looking for easy marks.
  • Think of it like a village where, because of a severe blizzard, the elders had forbidden folks from venturing out. But as food stocks run low, permission is granted to go gather food and firewood.
  • The signal is not the blizzard is over but to wear extra clothing and to take extra precautions.
  • To keep bugzilla at bay, relaxation of lockdowns is best balanced with increased circumspection and vigilance.

Case Study
  • Abundance 360 2021 was a tech event that ran from Jan 24-26 at Culver City, CA, USA.
  • The event was intended to be virtual but, due to demand, it allowed some audience to attend live.
  • Audience and staff, which totalled 80, were multi-tested before and during the event and were found negative.
  • The organisers did not mandate mask wearing during sessions, only between sessions.
  • Post event, 24 audience members and staff came down with the virus. 
  • The 35 member AV crew who did wear masks throughout was unaffected.