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Intel Labs presents SPEAR, a realistic simulator to facilitate the training of AI systems



The Intel Labs team has surprised us with the presentation of SPEAR, a simulator that takes a highly realistic approachthanks to its graphics that offer a quality that borders on photorealism, and also to its physics system and its high degree of interaction with each and every one of the elements that it is capable of representing.

We have said that SPEAR is a simulator, but what exactly can it simulate? Surely the images in the article will have helped you deduce the answervery rich and varied interiors, not only for its spaciousness, since it can generate from huge rooms to small rooms, but also due to the large number of decorative elements and objects that you can play.

Its mission is very easy to understand, this simulate from Intel Labs will allow train and validate artificial intelligence systems that can be used in robots that will perform different tasks indoors. Think, for example, of the potential that this would have when training a robot dedicated to cleaning tasks or handling certain objects in order to tidy up a room.

Artificial intelligence has to be properly trained to know how an object will react when you interact with it, and in this sense, aspects as important as its weight, its resistance and the fragility of some of its parts come into play. Understanding all this is an essential part of the artificial intelligence inference process, and SPEAR is emerging as a fundamental tool in this regard.

Said simulator has been developed based on three different keys: offering a wide number of different environments, guaranteeing a realistic physics system that covers a wide variety of objects and raising the graphic quality as much as possible to get closer to photorealism. Although these three pillars are fundamental, it is evident that the most important advance that Intel Labs has achieved with SPEAR is not so much in the realism of the environment, but rather in the possibilities of interaction offered and in its physics system.

SPEAR has also been built as an open source simulator, and features four differentiated agents that we can use:

  • The openbot agent, which provides image observations identical to those of a real-world OpenBot, implements an identical control interface, and is modeled with precise geometry and physical parameters. It is recommended for experiments simulating reality.
  • The Fetch and LoCoBot agents They have also been modeled using precise geometry and physics, and each has a gripper that interacts highly realistically with the objects in the simulation. These agents are intended to recreate reordering tasks.
  • The agent camera You can freely teleport anywhere, and it’s very useful for realistic data collection.

All agents return data from first person observations of the sensors present in their cameras, and also provide useful information from other elements, such as the encoders of the wheels and joints, and other important data related to imperfections in the observation.

As I told you before, SPEAR is available under an open source MIT license. We can find more information on GitHub. This project has been carried out by Intel Labs in collaboration with the Computer Vision Center of Spain, Kujiale in China and the Technical University of Munich.

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EIZO ColorEdge CS2400S, new 24.1-inch professional monitor



The EIZO ColorEdge CS2400S is a monitor aimed at professionals that mounts a 24.1-inch panel and has, as you may have imagined, a resolution of 1,920 x 1,200 pixels. Its maximum brightness is 410 cd/m2, it has a contrast of 1,350:1, it reproduces 1,070 million colors and it is capable of covering the 99% of the Adobe RGB color space.

This EIZO model brings a series of clear improvements over the previous generation. Among the most important changes we can highlight the inclusion of a USB Type-C connector, that offers up to 70 watts of charge, and that we can use to charge a laptop while we use it with said monitor (simultaneous data and power).

Another important addition to the EIZO ColorEdge CS2400S is that it comes with an adjustment report that measures the state of the screen at the time of shipment, a feature that previously it was only available on CG series professional monitors.

Maintaining its commitment to the environment, EIZO has eliminated any type of plastic from the packaging and materials that accompany the wiring. This monitor is also more efficient, as it It has a consumption of only 26 watts.

The rest of its specifications are completed with a response time of 19ms, it has DisplayPort and HDMI outputs, it has a USB Type-C connector, as we have already said, it has two USB 3.0 and it has two other USB 2.0 ports. we can use it both horizontally and verticallysomething that the most creative professionals will undoubtedly like.

This monitor is mainly aimed at content creators, designers, video and photo editors, illustrators and cartoonists. It is height, swivel and tilt adjustable, which translates into good ergonomics and great versatility when it comes to integrating into different work spaces.

The EIZO ColorEdge CS2400S comes with a 5-year warranty covering each and every component, and is also subject to the zero bad pixel policy, which is covered for six months from the launch date. Taking into account the investment that we have to make to buy this monitor, it is totally normal, since its price in Spain will be around 800 euro.

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Microsoft Extends ESU Support for Windows Server 2008 and R2



When an operating system ends its life cycle, Microsoft usually considers the possibility of offering extended support, which usually ends up being paid, or may be subject to some type of special condition. The latter is what has happened with Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2, two operating systems that have ended their life cycle and are no longer supported in 2020.

The thing is that Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 still have a significant user baseand for this reason Microsoft has decided an additional year of support of the ESU type, acronym for “extended security updates”. This is good news for companies that still use the operating system, but it has one important condition, and that is that it will only be available to those who are Microsoft Azure customers.

This extended period of security updates will be active until January 9, 2024. If you are wondering if this will be a free program, I can tell you that it is not, and that Microsoft will bill it as it normally does with extended support programs.

In case you are wondering why so many professionals are still using Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 the answer is very simple, because in more than one case upgrading to a new operating system requires significant expenses that can derive from a hardware renewal, from a prolonged period of inactivity, from updating and developing new applications if necessary or from a little of everything that we have just said.

Microsoft has confirmed all the versions of Windows Server 2008 that will be able to benefit from this year of extended support, and we have listed them as is:

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 (SP1) and 2008 Service Pack 2 (SP2).
  • Windows Embedded POSReady 7.
  • Windows Embedded Standard 7.
  • All Azure virtual machines (VMs) running Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 operating systems on Azure, Azure Stack, Azure VMWare Solutions, or Azure Nutanix Solution.

It does not seem that they are going to give more extensions once this is finished, so if your company is using any of those operating systems you should be clear that time is running out, and that in a matter of a year you will be tied to an operating system without support that could become a time bomb in terms of security.

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Apple will abolish the position of Head of Product Design



The departure of Jonathan Ive from Apple was one of the most shocking news of 2019, not in vain are we talking about what was Head of Product Design in that company, responsible for some of its most successful products, and a professional who was part of the bitten apple company for more than 30 years.

It is true that at first there was no complete break between Ive and Applesince both continued to work together through an independent agency founded by the former executive, but in the end both parties decided to put an end to their adventure, and a final separation was confirmed last July.

The position that Ive left was filled by Evans Hankey, but we know that this executive also plans to leave the company in the coming months. What will happen then with the position of Head of Product Design? The normal thing would be to look for a new professional that lives up to that position, but according to a new report presented by Bloomberg it won’t be like that.

The apple company will abolish the position of Head of Product Design, and the product design team will report to and report directly to Apple’s COO, Jeff Williams. To avoid internal problems, Apple will give more important roles to the designers of key products for the apple company, but it seems that this has not been liked by everyone, and that some employees are upset with Apple’s decision.

The truth is that, if we analyze the situation that existed previously, it is not as important a change as it might seem at first glance. Evans Hankey acts as the liaison for the design team, but in the end it depended on Jeff Williams and had to answer to himso with this move Apple would be eliminating an intermediate position that in the end would not be “essential”, and would simplify the hierarchical structure of the product design team.

It is also important to note that this change reinforces the position of Jeff Williams, a high-profile executive at Apple who many see as Tim Cook’s possible successor. We’ll see how the situation evolves, and if Apple is really able to get on without a Head of Product Design.

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