Category Archives: Software

An overview of low-code and no-code

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There’s a lot of buzz around the no-code/low-code.
What is it actually? And can you use it for free?

The Rise of No-Code Development Platforms - Zvolv
Source: zvolv.com

No-code is a way of making software, that doesn’t require any code and technically, any engineering knowledge. It generally provides a drag and drop interface, with pre-defined components. Its shortcomings are customizability and a limited number of standard functions. Usually, it’s made for one domain like database, automation, or graphical web development.
It’s associated with the wet dream of citizen development – everyone being empowered to ship software for the corporation.

Pixabay

Low-code is meant for people with engineering knowledge. It is not “citizen development” It’s supposed to make people “code and deploy very fast”[1]
A low-code platform reduces the complexity of development (e.g. takes care of hosting), therefore time to market. Its shortcomings are again, customizability, and types of structures it’s not designed to handle. As Veselin Pizurica described in his blog post on waylay.io – if the platform is designed vertically – for one use case, not horizontally, any deviation will require extensive work, or even re-write.

Charlie has a meltdown – FX, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia episode “Sweet Dee Has a Heart Attack”

Because of these issues, most devs ignore low code/no code. There’s yet another snake oil that’s supposed to fix everything and make everything run 10x smoother. Yet once you start using it, most of your work is work around some constraints – the most known example would be probably WordPress, the content management system that can be described as no-code. It’s certainly not a great experience for developers and the most productive one.

Case Study
appsmith.io

Having that in mind, it does have its merits. Take it as an example – no-code is great for making small, non-critical internal tools. You probably don’t want a tool, being used by your organization all the time, to be suboptimal. It doesn’t matter if it costs 1k or 50k to develop. Costs won’t matter here. However let’s say there’s a tool, that you’d want one department in one branch to have, maybe it’s an MVP, no-code platforms can enable you to have that, at 0.01 or 0.1 times the cost. As an example of citizen development – my friend, a non-programmer, just the other way made a tool at his workplace for dumping information about clients in a table, into an MS Teams chat, specifically into a OneNote document that’s pinned, using PowerAutomate. Certainly not the optimal solution, but it works.

Bubble.io Review – UPDATED 2021 – Tutorials, Templates & More! | Quko Studio
Source: https://www.quko.com.au/blog/bubble-io-review

Bubble – a platform that has a mission to make technical co-founders obsolete. The drag-and-drop platform claims to be able to build almost anything – even sites like Facebook or Airbnb. Of course, it will be not greatly engineered and could be difficult, as a non-developer to think in an algorithmic and system design way. But it works! (ish)

When it comes to no-code platforms you should know, as they also could prove quite useful:

  • Bubble.io – web development
  • Zapier, IFTTT, n8n, Integromat – automation
  • Airtable – “spreadsheet and a database in one”
  • PowerApps, PowerAutomate from Microsoft
  • Google Sheets, Excel; AppSheet – turns spreadsheet into an app
  • Waylay.io – enterprise automation
  • Notion – reportedly people consider it as a no-code tool
NocoDB : The Open Source Airtable Alternative - DEV Community
NocoDB

When it comes to Free and Open Source Software, here’s a list, you can use:

  • Databases – NocoDB – like Airtable, but FOSS and more focused on the database
  • Internal tools: AppSmith, ToolJet, BudiBase
  • Web apps: BudiBase, WordPress (if you call it no-code)
  • Automation: n8n, Huginn, Pipedream
Check new n8n major releases - Workflow - n8n.io
n8n

Sources:
[1] https://www.waylay.io/articles/low-code-vs-no-code
https://monday.com/blog/builders/low-code-no-code-platforms
https://techcrunch.com/2021/07/27/no-code-bubble-series-a/
https://github.com/taowen/awesome-lowcode

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How artificial intelligence is shaping religion in the 21st century

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AI is fully embedded in everyday life and all areas of existence. Every day, our every choice about the ordered food or the post we liked in the social. the network affects the subsequent, progress has not spared religion either.

Muslims are delighted with apps like Muslim Pro, showing prayer times and sending notifications for sunset and sunrise. The Japanese have created a robot priest performing Buddhist rituals that cost 3 times less than human services.

Faith leaders are increasingly concerned with building humanoid machines, but the relationship between technology and religion has not always been smooth.

The fight against “machines” is divided into three stages: rejection, acceptance and adaptation. Due to the rapid development of technological progress, the initial negative reaction turns into support for the mainstream.

For example, a 400-year-old temple in Kyoto has a new priest named Mindar. Like other worshipers, he reads sermons and communicates with parishioners, although he has some features, such as a silicone metal case and the price of its exploitation (“services”) in a million dollars.


Mindar’s metal skeleton is naked and I think this is an interesting choice – its creator, Hiroshi Ishiguro, is not trying to make something that looks completely human.

Natasha Heller, assistant professor of Chinese religions at the University of
Virginia.


This statement provides a variety of technological influences on religious culture. Some believe that AI can interest the heavenly people, taking into account their interests and will become an object of worship itself, such as Anthony Lewandowski, who initiated a major lawsuit Uber / Waymo, which founded the first AI church called “Path of the Future.”

Others think that people tend to find their similarity in everything and the subsequent created machines will themselves determine their belonging to the culture, telling about their views and new possible religious visions.


Sources:

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/11/how-artificial-intelligence-is-shaping-religion-in-the-21st-century.html
https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2019/9/9/20851753/ai-religion-robot-priest-mindar-buddhism-christianity

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Analysing material stress by images, future of physics and AI

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Engineering, physics – these fields of science can be named as BFF. Creators should even begin from the force of gravity law in order to make any mechanism work; each mech firstly has to fit some characteristics as form, consistency and its deformation capacity to proceed with. However, the equations solving can be computationally expensive, depends on material complexity.

MIT researchers decided to deeply focused on resolving and presented an Artificial Intelligence soft determining stress and strain of a material based on image recognition.


“This is always a difficult problem. It’s very expensive and it can take days, weeks or even months to run certain material simulations. So we thought, let’s teach an AI to solve this problem. […] From an image, the computer can predict all these forces: deformations, stresses, etc.”

Markus Buehler

An algorithm was developed by Zhenze Yang (lead author and PhD student in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering), Chi-Hua Yu (former MIT postdoc) and Markus J. Buehler (Director of the Atomic and Molecular Mechanics Laboratory and Professor of Engineering at McAfee), providing the possibility to implement connect computer vision and material in a real-time.

As data researches used different materials with various “from soft to hard” consistency. Main Machine Learning model was based on GAN (generative adversarial network) matching dozen of images to the future system in order to get the general “understanding” and as an addition be able to visualize micro details and singularities like cracks and other deformities.


In order to understand the pressure exerted with certain conditions objects were interpreted in random geometrical figures.


Example:

image strain

This visualization shows the deep-learning approach in predicting physical fields given different input geometries. The left figure shows a varying geometry of the composite in which the soft material is elongating, and the right figure shows the predicted mechanical field corresponding to the geometry in the left figure.

The recent innovation will open many doors in resolving estimating risk issues; a significant guarantee of constructions stability increase and revealing the potential of AI and computer vision in perspective.


Sources:

https://news.mit.edu/2021/ai-materials-stress-strain-0422
https://www.actuia.com/english/mit-researchers-present-a-deep-learning-tool-to-analyze-material-stress-from-photos/

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“Solar panels can generate more electricity if to make them turn”

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Idea that made an ordinary engineer a millionaire.

American entrepreneur Ron Corio has made a multibillion-dollar business in the production of trackers for solar panels.

Trackers – the mechanisms that move the panel towards the sun throughout the day, turned out to be a real gold mine. For decades, improving the devices that were once interesting to people, Ron Corio, provided his company with a capitalization of $4.6b.

Early in 1985 company named Wattsun Corporation, which developed low-cost solar “flat plates” needed a solution to place it in different angles. Ron Corio was the man for the job that started developing multi-tilt angle and eventually purchase shares of Wattsun in 1989, forming Array Technologies, Inc. as the world’s first solar tracking manufacturer in 1992.

The trackers were installed worldwide, but due to the market occupied by coal and other resources with huge deposits, the sun did not cause much demand. However, after the 2000s solar energy began to become a reality and Array started to grow significantly, winning tenders and constantly maximizing land occupancy.

Array’s main product is the DuraTrack system, which rotates photovoltaic panels on a single north-south axis throughout the day to follow the sun. Large-scale solar energy projects are usually arranged in consecutive ” rows “that form an”array”. The array can have dozens of rows with more than 100 solar panels in each row.

At the moment, Array Technologies is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of ground-mounted systems used in the solar energy business. Trackers increase the initial cost of a solar project but allow the panels to generate more energy compared to a fixed-tilt mounting system. Over the life of the project, this results in significantly lower level energy costs.

Sources:

https://www.bizjournals.com/albuquerque/news/2020/10/15/array-technologies-closes-

https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/array-technologies

https://ir.arraytechinc.com/

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Are chips “The New Oil”? A global shortage of chips

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Did you know that we are currently facing a global chips shortage? The crisis came about due to the massive demand for electronic components triggered by the pandemic, factories downtime, production underestimation, and supply chain failure. Whoever produces the chips, holds all the power – in this case the Taiwanese manufacturer TSMC seems to be a ruler.

The company Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co may seem unfamiliar to you, but it is more than sure that their products are used by you every single day. TSMC is the world’s largest chip manufacturer that produces parts for major electronics and automotive companies, including Apple (which is reckoned to constitute 25% of TSMC’s income [1]).

Source: https://www.eetasia.com/tsmc-will-raise-to-expand-capacity-amid-chip-shortages/

Chips are not only a common component of consumer electronics such as smartphones, computers, or smart appliances, but they are also required for automotive electronic systems, which are expected to account for more than 50% of the total production cost of a car by 2030[2]. For comparison, in 2010 this figure comprised 35% while in the 1970s, 5%. New cars need more processors, which in other words means – more and more chips.

In fact, it is the automotive industry that has been inflicted the most during the last months. Major players on the market such as Volkswagen, Toyota, Renault, General Motors, and Honda had been forced to hold back production due to the lack of components. A shortage in the microprocessor industry is expected to slash Ford’s profit by $2.5 billion this year and GM’s profit by $2 billion[3].

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-02-05/chip-shortage-spirals-beyond-cars-to-phones-and-game-consoles

The crisis has also hit the electronics industry. Sony has announced that it is unable to manufacture the number of PS5 consoles planned for this year, just like Samsung which in turn postponed the release of its new version of the Galaxy Note smartphone. All this because of chips shortage. But how did such situation even come about?

During the outbreak of the pandemic, many companies decided to cancel chip orders due to a significant drop in demand for products such as cars. It was assumed that the demand would not increase quickly. In response to the situation, chip manufacturers decided to change their sales orientation to other industries. At a time when demand picked up again, motor companies were left holding the bag as microprocessor manufacturers had their hands already full with other orders. Another aspect is also the production bottleneck which lead to the supply chain destabilization. The global production of chips is based on 3-4 companies only, including the afore-mentioned TSMC, which is responsible for about 70% world’s production of technologically advanced microprocessors.[3]

TMSC’s goal is to maintain its position and increase its production capacity. For this purpose, the company announced an investment of $100 billion. It is worth mentioning however, that the reliance of global electronics behemoths on the goods of a single Taiwanese firm is an example of the negative consequences of excessive production outsourcing.

[1]https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/biz/archives/2021/03/09/2003753477

[2]https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/tw/Documents/technology-media-telecommunications/tw-semiconductor-report-EN.pdf

[3]https://cyfrowa.rp.pl/globalne-interesy/61408-dramat-z-czipami-pandemia-sankcje-i-wielka-pomylka