September 17

As challenges loom, Cal is a must-win test

first_imgWhen I wrote my last column, USC was 4-0. Undefeated. The fans were happy.Now, just two weeks later, USC is 4-2, the Trojans having lost two consecutive games for the first time since 2001. The fans, as you might guess, are not happy.What’s changed?Two things: one, a sad-but-true realization and an incredible stroke of bad luck. Let’s break it down.First, as was probably under-reported earlier this year, these Trojans have not put together a complete performance all season.By complete, I mean the offense, defense and special teams all playing above average.And by never, I mean never — not in spring practice, not in summer workouts and not in fall camp. In fact, USC’s best overall day since Lane Kiffin and most of his coaching staff arrived in January was probably Saturday’s game against Stanford.Yes, the Trojans lost that game. No, I am not joking.But you have to give it to Kiffin and his team, who have responded well to adversity this week in practice. Those are my words, not those of anybody on the team — although they agree.“I don’t think you can tell, off of them, whether we won or lost the game,” Kiffin said Wednesday when asked to evaluate his team’s feelings at this point in the season. “I don’t think they’re any different in practice, which is the same the week before [concerning their morale], and now you can’t go undefeated, you lost to Washington at home in the last second. ”He continued, saying this week’s packed injury report is much more of a concern to him than anything that happened last week.“I’m not worried about that,” he said. “I’m much more worried about who is going to be there to play Saturday.”That brings me to my next point. A typical excuse for underachieving teams is that they have been ravaged by injuries.Up until this week, you couldn’t say that for this USC team. This is the first week that a substantial amount of key players look like questionable bets to play on Saturday.But I’m not sure I’d call them “underachieving” either.Did the losses to Stanford and Washington really scream that fateful word — “upset?”You don’t have to answer that. I’ll tell you one thing, though: They did scream “unlucky.”And that’s the second thing. Both losses were extremely unlucky. There are all kinds of crazy statistics about just how abnormal the two consecutive last-play losses were.“It’s very unusual,” Kiffin said earlier this week. “We were talking today and USC has played football for more than 100 years and there have been four games in 100 years, prior to these last two weeks, that USC has lost on the last play of the game. Four in 100 years, and now we’ve done it twice in seven days,”Kiffin said.“That’s a record that we didn’t really want to break or be a part of. The fact is that we should learn from it and know that feeling and how it is, and have a feeling for it never happening again, so when we’re in those situations, we change one thing and we’re sitting here completely different.”But they’re not, of course. And now questions are starting to float in about whether Kiffin’s debut season will end up resembling his predecessor’s.Remember, former USC coach Pete Carroll’s 2001 squad finished 6-6.“It feels different because the expectations are so much higher,” Kiffin said when asked to compare 2010 with 2001. Kiffin was an assistant on that team.“I know we’re better. We were 2-5 to start that year. This is a better team with higher expectations, so it feels a lot different.”He’s right. It feels different. And so far, it’s been different. But a loss Saturday to Cal could end up making the two seasons feel awfully alike.And, with Oregon the next team awaiting the Trojans after a bye week, Cal looks an awful lot like a must-win game.Otherwise, 4-4 is well within reach.“Looking Past the X’s and O’s” runs every other Friday. To comment on this article, visit or e-mail Pedro at [email protected]last_img read more

September 17

Tennis is a family affair for father-son duo

first_imgFor freshman Tanner Smith, tennis has always been a part of the family. In 2004, Peter Smith, his father, took him to a USTA National Men’s 40s event at the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. Now, more than a decade and two father-son championships later, Tanner is playing for the USC men’s tennis team under the direction of his father and coach.Peter grew up in Connecticut and played many sports when he was young, but he found a liking for tennis and soon found himself coaching collegiate teams.“We had a little tennis court in our driveway,” Peter said. “It was just something we did in the summertime. I just got more serious when we moved out to California when I was 14. I played college tennis, and I really just happened to end up becoming a college coach. It wasn’t anything I dreamed of doing or planned on doing. Other people saw things in me and they offered for me to be a college coach, which I never even thought about, but I fell in love with it immediately.”Tanner isn’t the only son who wanted to play tennis. His two younger brothers, Riley and Colter, are also very interested in playing tennis with their dad in competition. In turn,  Peter has created a rotation schedule.“Colter was feeling like ‘Hey, I’m the youngest. I always get left out.’ The older boys decided to let him join in the fun,” Peter said. “Now, Colter’s becoming a really good player. Really, in the end, you do it to enjoy time with your kids, not necessarily to win.”Tanner began competing with his father in father-son matches at the Father-Son Nationals on hard courts at La Jolla in 2005. By 2007, the Smith father-son duo reached the quarterfinals at La Jolla. In 2010, the Smiths made trips to Boston for the Father-Son Nationals on grass courts and Cincinnati for the Father-Son Nationals on clay courts.Looking back from 2004-2010, Tanner says that time was filled with mainly fun and learning.“Those years were almost, in a way, the most fun because I was the little kid on the court and everyone would kind of pick on me, and I could somewhat hang in there, so it was a lot of fun,” Tanner said. “But, we definitely learned how to play together. There’s definitely a learning curve to it.”“He learned that I’m in charge,” Peter added with a laugh.In his younger years, Tanner was often called “shrimp,” but he says that name probably helped him more than it hindered him.“At one point, we played a top junior.,” Tanner said. “I was like 12 years old, and we went out there and beat him and his dad because there’s no pressure on me. I’m just the little kid with the dad who’s really good.”Peter further described the expectations for Tanner and himself by comparing it to movies.“Life is a lot about expectations,” Peter said. “You go see a movie that everyone tells you is bad, and you’re not expecting a lot. Then the movie is pretty good. It’s the same [with us]. Tanner was 12, so everything was just upside.  For us to win any match was fun. When we started beating seeded teams and really good players, we were just having a blast.”In 2011, Tanner and Peter made it to the final match at the Father-Son Nationals on clay courts in Cincinnati without dropping a set. The pair was knocked off, however, in a tough three-set loss to Jerry and Brett Morse-Karzen by a score of 4-6, 6-4, 7-5. A few months later, the Smiths assembled an impressive performance at La Jolla, which ultimately led them to face Brian and Brett Joelson, a pairing that was riding a 51-match tournament winning streak, in the semifinal match. The Smiths and Joelsons battled for three very close sets, but in the end, Tanner and Peter prevailed as major underdogs and defeated the Joelsons by a final score of 6-7(9), 7-6(5), 7-5.Tanner and his father didn’t win in the finals, but Peter still believes that his semifinal win with his son was his “favorite match ever.”“To beat a team that’s never been beaten before — that’s pretty cool,” Peter said.  “That match is really etched in my memory.Just to do something that had never been done before was really a lot of fun, and to do it with your oldest son — it’s pretty special.”Even with that great memory, the two finals matches that the duo had lost in a matter of months were tough to swallow for Tanner and Peter.“Honestly, I think those are the toughest two losses I’ve ever had,” Tanner said. “It just gave us some experience. It’s funny [because] you wouldn’t think father-son would need that much experience, but it’s such an experience game.”“Those were extremely painful losses,” Peter said. “You’re playing with your son. You want to win for your son. It was the most pressure I’d ever felt. You just want to win, and then when you lose, it’s crushing .”Tanner missed the 2012 and 2013 Father-Son Nationals on hard courts at La Jolla due to injury. Instead, Colter and Riley played with Peter at the Father-Son Nationals on hard courts. Colter and his father made it to the round of 16 in 2012, while Riley and his father took the Father-Son Nationals on hard courts title in 2013.After 17 months off, Tanner returned in 2014, and produced stellar tennis performances with his dad. Tanner and Peter were victorious in 80 percent of their matches on their way to the championship round at the Father-Son Nationals on clay courts. The Smiths dominated the first set 6-0, but found themselves facing a third set after losing the second set.The Smiths found themselves down 4-3 in the final round and were determined not to lose another finals match. The two then rallied and won the next three games-in-a-row to become national champions.The two would follow that accomplishment by winning at the Father-Son Nationals on hard courts in La Jolla in December.Tanner says he feels like he is a strong doubles player, which he attributes partly to the father-son tennis matches he has played, but he also says that he has grown tremendously in his first semester at USC.“This first semester I’ve improved so much, it’s scary,” Tanner said. “We really have the two best coaches in college tennis, and they’ve helped me so much. I feel like I’m a different player.”Looking ahead, Peter will compete in father-son competitions this summer, but Tanner will not be his father’s partner this time.“It’s Colter’s turn,” Peter said. “Colter and I are going to go play in Boston and Cincinnati this summer. We’re really looking forward to that. It’s all about having these incredible memories with your kids. As painful as it was losing for Tanner, they’re special times and they’re special memories. They bond you with your child like almost nothing else can…we just kind of look at each other and just say, ‘Let’s go, let’s do this.’”Tanner couldn’t have agreed more with the man who is his father, partner and coach.“It just brings you so close,” Tanner said. “It’s such a bonding moment to just be battling your heart out on the court. Come up short or win, it doesn’t matter. You’re just both battling your heart out, and it’s so cool.”last_img read more

December 16

Researcher Develops Password Hacking Software for Wi-Fi Networks Using Amazon Web Services

first_imgA Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… A researcher has developed software for breaking password protections used for wireless networks.According to Reuters, security expert Thomas Roth says he can break into protected networks by running 400,000 potential passwords per second using Amazon Web Services (AWS).Roth will present his findings at the Black Hat conference in Washington, DC. later this month.Roth made news last November when as we reported, he used the new Amazon Cluster GPU instance to crack SHA1 hashes. According to Wikipedia, “SHA-1 is the most widely used of the existing SHA hash functions, and is employed in several widely-used security applications and protocols.”Roth was able to crack 14 hashes with passwords ranging in length from one to six characters in 49 minutes.Now he has developed software using AWS that could be used to break into corporations, public institutions or the wireless networks people use in their homes.According to Reuters:Roth said that he used his software and Amazon’s cloud-based computers to break into a WPA-PSK protected network in his neighborhood. It took about 20 minutes of processing time. He has since updated his software to speed its performance and believes he could hack into the same network in about 6 minutes.“Once you are in, you can do everything you can do if you are connected to the network,” he said.Bruce Schneir is a security blogger who has also explored how the cloud is being used to hack passwords. He wrote in July about a mechanism that has been developed to capture network traffic that is then uploaded to the WPA Cracker. The data is then subject to a brute force cracking effort that can reduce exponentially the time it takes to crack a network. Schneir touches on other effects of the mechanism as well:It gets even better. If you try the standard 135-million-word dictionary and do not crack the WPA encryption on your target network, there is an extended dictionary that contains an additional 284 million words. In short, serious brute force wireless network encryption cracking has become a retail commodity.Password security is proving to be a risky proposition. Cloud computing makes it easier for hackers to take advantage of weak security networks. There will be some huge and successful attacks this year. The level of preparedness is just not high enough to expect anything else except for some very high profile break-ins. Related Posts alex williams Tags:#cloud#security center_img Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

December 15

3DSignals decipher machine maintenance with sound analytics

first_img5 Industries Destined for Technological Disruption Electronic Design is Utilizing AI-Enabled Solu… One of the most compelling aspects of industrial IoT is the ability of sensor technology to solve problems that have plagued traditional industries for years if not decades. One such problem is machine maintenance and repairs. Up until recently, such maintenance was typically time-consuming, costly and limited by the challenge of finding appropriately skilled workers.A start-up that is successfully responding to these challenges through a combination of  IoT and machine learning is Israeli company, 3DSignals.I spoke to Amnon Shenfeld, co-founder, and CEO to learn more. I’m always curious to learn how people get the idea for their start-up. For Shenfeld, it started with a simple train journey:“I was riding a train in England between Cambridge and London, when suddenly the train made this terrible noise. I was trying to figure out if this was the end… but then a few seconds later if it was gone and everything was back to normal. My first thought was, I wonder if the train engineer was sitting here in this carriage, would he be able to say if the noise was normal or not and if it was a problem with the bearings, a problem with the suspension, maybe something on the tracks that the train hit, or if this is just one of the dynamic sounds that the train makes? These trains are pretty long, so I guess it’s very difficult to analyze all the different noises they make in the repair/maintenance garage. So I wondered if they let train engineers drive the trains in the garage to monitor how they sound, as this is a very clear way to understand what is going on.”Shenfeld has a background in deep learning and he explained, “I was pretty sure I could train a neural network to recognize these sounds in order to report them automatically and classify them, then (and with some verifications by experts), build a system based on sounds that would add a lot of significant information regarding the condition of machines.”With an idea that just wouldn’t quit, Shenfeld initiated a field trip, with a bunch of friends from various disciplines: machine learning, mathematics, electrical engineering, to a local steel plant.“We asked the staff, what fails here often? One of the answers was saw blades, they were cutting through steel profiles and beams, and as a result, they would frequently have breakdowns. They told us something pretty amazing: ‘we have 50% efficiency and we’re very proud of it because in the steel industry it is considered a lot,’” he said.He added that now “we’re software people, and we were shocked because if you invest all this money in electricity, manpower, equipment, physical space, you would probably want to get more than 50% uptime. They said before they took over the business they were doing 20%, and one of their main pain points was blade failures that they couldn’t predict; they would spend at least 20 minutes on each blade replacement and they would have on average 3 per day per production line.“So we’re talking about more than an hour a day per machine spent replacing saw blades, not to mention any residual impacts on the machines if the blades shatters. They tried existing monitoring technologies (e.g. current, temperature) to no avail,” he said.Shenfeld thought he and his friends could help and the impetus to create 3DSignals was raring to go.Disrupting the preventive maintenance cycleMachine maintenance is traditionally a laborious process that requires sending a physical person around each factory/plant/workplace to inspect individual machines, typically on a set schedule. It traditionally relies on an engineer to identify anomalies, and respond accordingly.As Shenfeld explained, “People used to rely on acoustics a lot, for example in their cars, (to see if it sounded) normal or was sounding a bit strange. In the same way, a technician that can hear a pump can tell you which one is working well or not.”Indeed, 3DSignals is the first IoT company to utilize sensor tech to monitor machines through sound. Their system can extend to a range of machines “based on the knowledge of how similar machines are supposed to sound and also learning the very specific sound acoustics of specific machines.This is very similar to the human process, if you were to talk to a maintenance engineer that monitors a group of machines, he knows what is normal or not for each machine and this system emulates this behavior with a neural network, in other words, deep learning.”This all leads to increased efficiency in maintenance and the ability to predict problems so that an engineer can respond as needed rather than only within a pre-existing preventive maintenance time frame.3DSignals system is accompanied by an easy to use platform and cloud which means that “The sound samples can even be sent to the manufacturer of the motor, pump, valve, giving them back this very natural knowledge.” It has a natural affinity with the energy industry, he said, where “they’re having so many turbines spinning with no people next to them…They come for their routine maintenance to fix a pump, then notice an entirely different piece of equipment is failing due to how it sounds. They didn’t have any other method before us.”Sound tech has largely been researched in academia for voice recognition, particularly in deep learning and algorithms. As Shenfeld notes, “We’re on the cutting edge of developing software and algorithms and developing automated hearing. It’s very exciting.”Even Elon Musk relied on a mystery sound to try and solve the Space X Falcon 9 explosion:Shenfeld explains that in presenting his idea to companies he asked rooms full of suited staff “Would you know how your machine is working by the sound? I never get a no.” With a technology that has a natural affinity with a range of sectors from mining to agriculture to automated cars, this won’t be the first time you hear about 3DSignals. Tags:#Agriculture#autonomous cars#Deep Learning#energy automation#Industrial IoT#IoT#Machine Learning#manufacturing#solar energy#sound#sound tech#wind energy Related Posts center_img Cate Lawrence How IoT Will Transform Cold Chain Logistics For… The Ultimate Checklist on Ways to Prevent IoT D…last_img read more

November 18

Champions League: Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski out of Celtic clash

first_imgBayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski has been ruled out of the Champions League trip to Celtic due to an injury, the German Bundesliga champions said on Monday.The 29-year-old Pole scored in the 2-0 league victory over RB Leipzig on Saturday but limped off on the stroke of halftime with a thigh problem.Lewandowski is staying in Munich as a precaution, with manager Jupp Heynckes unwilling to take a risk ahead of their crucial clash against title rivals Borussia Dortmund on Saturday.Winger Kingsley Coman has returned to the squad after missing the weekend game because of a knee injury.last_img read more

August 31

Use depressionfighting skills to get a job

first_imgThese skills included identifying negative thoughts and countering them with more positive responses and planning enjoyable activities to improve the mood.This study is the first to show that cognitive behavioural (CB) skills not only predict changes in depression symptoms, but also in real life functioning, said co-author of the study Daniel Strunk, associate professor of psychology at The Ohio State University in the US.“Searching for a job is difficult in any circumstance, but it may be even more difficult for people who are depressed,” Strunk said. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’“But we found that there are specific skills that can help not only manage the symptoms of depression but also make it more likely that a person will receive a job offer,” Strunk noted.The study involved 75 unemployed people, aged 20 to 67, who participated in two online surveys taken three months apart.About a third of the sample reported symptoms that would put them in the ‘moderately to seriously’ depressed category, although they were not formally diagnosed. The remaining two-thirds had scores that ranged from mild depression to no symptoms. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixThe results showed that participants who reported more use of cognitive behavioural skills were more likely to show an improvement in depressive symptoms in the three months between the surveys– and were more likely to report they had received a job offer.The findings appeared in the Journal of Clinical Psychology.“The people who got jobs in our study were more likely to be putting into practice the skills that we try to teach people in cognitive therapy,” Strunk explained.last_img read more