February 29, 2016

The pictures you'd get to color in as kids

When they stopped for gas Czernobog announced he felt sick and wanted to ride in the front. Shadow didn't mind moving to the back of the bus. He could stretch out more, and sleep.

They drove on in silence. Shadow felt that he'd made a decision; something big and strange.

"Hey. Czernobog," said Mr. Nancy, after a while. "You check out the technical boy back at the motel? He was not happy. He's been screwin' with something that screwed him right back. That's the biggest trouble with the new kids-they figure they know every thin', and you can't teach them nothin' but the hard way."

"Good," said Czernobog.

Shadow was stretched out full length on the seat in the back. He felt like two people, or more than two. There was part of him that felt gently exhilarated: he had done something. He had moved. It wouldn't have mattered if he hadn't wanted to live, but he did want to live, and that made all the difference. He hoped he would live through this, but he was willing to die, if that was what it took to be alive. And, for a moment he thought that the whole thing was funny, just the funniest thing in the world; and he wondered if Laura would appreciate the joke.

There was another part of him-maybe it was Mike Ainsel, he thought, vanished off into nothing at the press of a button in the Lakeside Police Department-who was still trying to figure it all out, trying to see the big picture..

"Hidden Indians," he said out loud.

"What?" came Czernobog's irritated croak from the front seat.

'Can you see the hidden Indians in this picture? There are ten Indians in this picture, can you find them all?' And at first glance you could only see the waterfall and the rocks and the trees, then you see that if you just tip the picture on its side that shadow is an Indian..." He yawned.

"Sleep," suggested Czernobog.

"But the big picture," said Shadow. Then he slept, and dreamed of hidden indians.

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February 23, 2016

They may brag about the nights they won

Entering the casino, one is beset at every side by invitation-invitations such that it would take a man of stone, heartless, mindless, and curiously devoid of avarice, to decline them Business Broadband.

Listen: a machine-gun rattle of silver coins as they tumble and spurt down into a slot machine tray and overflow onto monogrammed carpets is replaced by the siren clangor of the slots, the jangling, blippeting chorus swallowed by the huge room, muted to a comforting background chatter by the time one reaches the card tables, the distant sounds only loud enough to keep the adrenaline flowing through the gamblers veins.

There is a secret that the casinos possess, a secret they hold and guard and prize, the holiest of their mysteries. For most people do not gamble to win money, after all, although that is what is advertised, sold, claimed, and dreamed. But that is merely the easy lie that gets them through the enormous, ever-open, welcoming doors .

The secret is this: people gamble to lose money. They come to the casinos for the moment in which they feel alive, to ride the spinning wheel and turn with the cards and lose themselves, with the coins, in the slots. the money they took from the casino, but they treasure, secretly treasure, the times they lost. It's a sacrifice, of sorts.

The money flows through the casino in an uninterrupted stream of green and silver, streaming from hand to hand, from gambler to croupier to cashier to the management to security, finally ending up in the Holy of Holies, the innermost sanctum, the Counting Room. And it is here, in the counting room of this casino, that you come to rest, here, where the greenbacks are sorted, stacked, indexed, here in a space that is slowly becoming redundant as more and more of the money that flows through the casino is imaginary: an electrical sequence of ons and offs, sequences that flow down telephone lines travel and tourism news.

In the counting room you see three men, counting money under the glassy stare of the cameras they can see, the insectile gazes of the tiny cameras they cannot see. During the course of one shift each of the men counts more money than he will see in all the pay packets of his life. Each man, when he sleeps, dreams of counting money, of stacks and paper bands and numbers that climb inevitably, that are sorted and lost. Each of the three men has idly wondered, not less than once a week, how to evade the casino's security systems and run off with as much money as he could haul; and, reluctantly, each man has inspected the dream and found it impractical, has settled for a steady paycheck, avoided the twin specters of prison and an unmarked grave.

And here, in the sanctum sanctorum, there are the three men who count the money, and there are the guards who watch and who bring money and take it away; and then there is another person. His charcoal-gray suit is immaculate, his hair is dark, he is clean-shaven, and his face and his demeanor are, in every sense, forgettable. None of the other men has even observed that he is there, or if they have noticed him, they have forgotten him on the instant.

As the shift ends the doors are opened, and the man in the charcoal suit leaves the room and walks, with the guards, through the corridors, their feet shushing along the monogrammed carpets. The money, in strongboxes, is wheeled to an interior loading bay, where it is loaded into armored cars. As the ramp door swings open, to allow the armored car out onto the early streets of Las Vegas, the man in the charcoal suit walks, unnoticed, through the doorway, and saunters up the ramp, out onto the sidewalk. He does not even glance up to see the imitation of New York on his left.

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February 01, 2016

Innoetics had been working

Samsung quietly acquires Greek text-to-speech startup
With the launch of Bixby and reports that Samsung is building its own competitor to Amazon’s Echo, the consumer electronics giant has now made an acquisition that could help power its next generation of voice-powered services Laser Sticker.

Samsung has acquired Innoetics, a startup out of Greece that has developed text-to-speech and voice-to-speech technology that can, among other things, listen to a person speaking, train on what that person is saying, and then read out a piece of completely unrelated text in that same voice.

"Samsung has agreed to acquire Innoetics,” the company told us in an emailed statement in response to our questions. "Samsung is always exploring ways to deepen our relationships with companies like Innoetics whose technologies present an opportunity to strengthen Samsung’s capabilities.”

primarily on B2B services up to now, with telcos and other businesses using its tech by way of a set of APIs. Innoetics has now posted a note on on the homepage of its website announcing that these B2B services have now been discontinued reenex.

It’s not clear yet what Samsung plans to do with the tech, but according to one person, "it is perfectly suited for consumer services.”

In other words, we could see it working with Bixby, or a new piece of hardware, or something for Samsung’s extensive mobile handset business, or all of the above. Or something else entirely different, given Samsung’s reach into so many other areas of consumer electronics. In any case, Samsung plans to keep Innoetics and its 8-10 employees (the higher number includes contractors) based in Athens as a subsidiary of its wider business Enterprise Data Backup.

Terms of the deal — which officially closed last Friday — have not been disclosed, but we understand that it’s one of the bigger exits for a tech startup in Greece. Sources tell us that Innoetics went for less than the amount Daimler paid for Taxibeat, an Uber rival that it acquired earlier this year for around €40 million ($43 million).

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