The rise and fall of Zynga

Hi everybody,

Today I’ll focus on a piece of news about Zynga, an American provider of social video game services.

If you have used Facebook at least once, you surely have faced one of the countless announcements about your friend’s new farm that used to flood your Facebook user feed. Zynga is the software company behind a number of wildly popular social game on Facebook, including Words With Friends or CityVille among others.

Founded in 2007, their breakthrough happened with the release of FarmVille in 2009 which sent their profit sky high. Emboldened by their success, Zynga initiated in 2010 an Initial Public Offering (IPO) and valued their share at $10. The next year, they moved to their current headquarters, a massive 668,000 square foot, seven-story building at 8th and Townsend streets that cost them $228 millions.

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However, things aren’t looking so well for Zynga nowadays as their stock plunged to less than $2 during the few last monthes. Despite a high executive turn-over and multiple “restructuration plans” (a.k.a mass layoff) , Zynga has struggled to reproduce its past success and is bleeding money. In fact, the company value sank so low that their headquarters is considered to worth more than Zynga itself. Things move fast in technology, and no one is too rich to fail.

Thanks for reading !

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Sci-hub or why american researchers end up pirating their own work

Hi everybody,

I doubt you would learn anything new if I told you that academia in
the United States can cost a lot as student have to fork out up to
$10000 per semester to attend a decent university. What’s really
surprising is that even being researcher is also extremely expensive
because of how the academic papers are distributed in the USA.

See, in order to be recognized, researcher have to publish their
research in recognized academic journals. These journals then proceed
to put these articles behind paywalls and bill astromical prices for
simply getting the privilege to access a single academic paper. This
make the most basic form of research in the United States extremely
expensive as academics have to pay up to 32 dollars per publication
access during their work. Of course, the authors don’t get a single
penny from these editors.

A group of researcher world got fed up by this racket organized by a
small number of academic journal editor and decided and found a
simpler alternative : distribute their academic papers for free. This
growing movement led to Sci-Hub, a website that (illegally) offers
access to millions of academic paper that you normally would have to
pay a lot of money for.

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Sci-Hub illustrate the dysfunctional nature of scientific edition;
let’s hope this bring sorely needed change to the field.

Thanks for reading and share your opinion in the comments!

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Raspberry Pi – introduction (part 1)

Hi everybody, today I’ll focus on credit card–sized single-board computers : the Raspberry Pi.

The concept has been released in 2006 by the Raspberry Pi Foudation, an english company. That computer has been sold with intent to promote the teaching of basic computer  science at low cost.

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Since 2006, the Foundation has raised some funds because of its success and new versions has been released such as the Raspberry Pi 0, 2 B or 2 B+. Despite its success, the Foundation still provide cards at a low cost : around 30$.

All the versions have the same design :

  • Powered up by USB cable
  • Data stored on a memory card (SD card)
  • USB ports to plug a keyboard and a mouse
  • HDMI port to plug a screen on it

The different versions has diffenrent CPU meaning that the only difference (or almost) is the power of the CPU.

The questions now are : Is it worth it ? What can we do with it ?

Wait for the answer in a next post !

See you

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The new Tesla model 3

Hi everybody,

Today, I’ll focus on the automotive industry and particularly Tesla Motors. Tesla Motors is a great manufacturer known for it’s amazing electric cars. They usually aim affluent customers with cars sold for about 100k€ and more.

A few weeks ago, Tesla put a pre order on a new model, the Tesla Model 3.

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Contrary to the older models, that car will be sold for only 35k $. The technology is evolving and now, the average Joe can afford such a great car generally dedicated to rich people. As a reminder, the Tesla cars are all electrics so it will be a big improvement for the planet if everyone could afford it. We maybe can expect another decrease of electric cars prices on the future.

However, electric cars still have issues with bateries :

  • Low endurance
  • Reliability

Maybe we could all drive electric cars in a near future. Hope the manufacturers are working hard on it !

See you next time !

 

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AlphaGo Computer, first AI for Go

Have you ever heard about Game of Go ?

deepmind-alphago

It’s actually a chinese game with complicate rules. Until now, everybody thought that it was impossible to realize an Artificial Intelligence for that game. However, Google has once again overwhelmed our expectation. They succeed in creating a powerful AI (called AplhaGo) for the game of Go a year ago.

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In 2015, AlphaGo has beaten  his first French Professionnal player opponent.  A few weeks ago, AlphaGo has also played several games with a World Champion of Go (from Korea). The AlphaGo has won 4 games over 5 which is such impressive. The AI is still not “finished” but can already beat the bests players of Go !

The development of such a great program like AlphaGo has been possible with “machine learning”. It means that Google has developped a program able to learn by himself. Then, Google has showed to AlphaGo the progress of a lot of games played by professionnals to make it better. That kind of technology (machine learning) is quite impressive.

Share your point of view about it and see you next time !

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5G internet by using Drones

Hi everyone,

Today, I’ll focus on Google who plans to beam 5G by a whole new method. The usual method is actually to beam 3G,4G and others using antennas. Google, as usual, is innovating ang is trying to beam 5G (next generation) by using a drone.

 

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Indeed, Google acquired a company developing solar powered drones in 2014 : Titan Aerospace. In 2016, Google is working on the project Skybender which aim to beam 5G all over the world using drones. That method is awesome since it can provide 5G wherever they want, even in poor countries whereas it’s impossible to get internet because of the cost of an antenna installation.

These drones, powered by sun, can fly for over 5 years and 20km over the ground !

Thanks for reading, have a good day.

 

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Cool Gadgets #2 : Myo armband

Hi everyone,

This is the second edition of Cool gadgets and we’ll still talk about a gesture recognition device. Today, the chosen one is the Myo Gesture Control Armband.

Myo

That device is manufactured by Thalmic Labs. The Myo armband is a sensor which recognize the electrical activity made by the muscles of the forearm. The sensors, combined with apps proposed on the “Myo market” (similar to the Play Store or the Apple Store), enable a user to control techonologies. Until now, you were able to control drones, play games or other ordinary tasks via the Myo armband. A few days ago, researchers at Johns Hopkins University employed the device to a completely different application : prosthetics. With a high tech arm and a Myo armband, they allowed a patient (A walter White lookalike) who had loose his arm to recover it.

Here is a little video of the patient using it.

For your information, the Myo armband is available on Amazon for 200$.

Thank you and take care until the next Cool Gadget !

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