2017-11-17 (Friday)

Today, I learned that:

Besides dedicated software applications, e.g. translation software, without any doubt, it is the general applications word processing and spreadsheet calculations I use most, as I guess is the case for most people.

Of those, it is especially the spreadsheet that I tend to use for almost any task. Back in the 1980s, unfortunately I did not use the very first spreadsheet, Visicalc, which was introduced for the Apple II in 1979. More about that in reference # 1 below. But soon after that, I already started to use various of its successors, which during the following decades have included such softwares as Lotus 1-2-3, Multiplan, Quattro, Excel and Numbers.

Now there is even celebrated a Spreadsheet Day, on October 17 every year, in remembrance of the date of introduction of Visicalc. And on that day this year, I had the pleasure of receiving a newsletter from a person who knows a great deal about spreadsheets. Her name is Mynda Treacy, and in that newsletter she presented a comprehensive article about how to work with dates and times in Excel, which currently is the most commonly used spreadsheet application worldwide. If you think that it is difficult to use them in Excel, Mynda will explain it to you in an easy fashion, complete with all the formulas you need. See reference # 2, where you can download the article and accompanying spreadsheet file, as well as sign up for her newsletter.

And now back to another favourite topic of mine, robots. Examples of that can be seen in my posts from 2016-03-12 and 2017-03-12. In both of them were presented robots from the American company Boston Dynamics, named Atlas and Handle. Now, its new owner, the Japanese company Softbank, reveals how Atlas has developed since we last saw it. How about the following backflip? More about Atlas, including a video, can be found in reference # 3 below.

Atlas 2017

The humanoid robot Atlas performing acrobatics with a perfect backflip.

That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: VisiCalc: Information from its creators, Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston

2: Excel Date and Time – Everything you need to know

2: Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot is a parkour master

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2016-03-12 (Saturday)

Today, once more I learned that:

There are machines all around us, performing all kinds of tasks. Below are three interesting examples of their versatility.

Solution to Problem # 4, Drilling square holes, posted on 2016-03-06

The question was: How would you construct a tool to drill square holes? The solution can be found in the following drawing. See also the amazing video in reference # 1 below.

Corner mill

This drawing from the Japanese company Dijet show the principle of successive milling of the corners of the hole, which results in a square hole.

Update on AlphaGo vs. Lee Sedol

Just as we could expect, AlphaGo did it again, and won also the third game against Lee Sedol. There are still two more games to go, but the 3-0 lead that AlphaGo already has is of course sufficient to win the match. See the following images and reference #2 below.

go3

Top: The result of the third game of the historic match between AlphaGo and Lee Sedol, played in Seoul 2016-03-09–12. Bottom: AlphaGo operator Aja Huang, Lee Sedol, and Google co-founder Sergey Brin, on a photo taken before the third game. Graphic and photo supplied by Google.

A robot I would not mind having as my partner

Here comes a perfect example of how advanced robots are today. It is the US company Boston Dynamics that has developed Atlas. How about teaming up AlphaGo and Atlas, thus forming the ultimate Go player? See the following photo and another fantastic video in reference #3 below.

Atlas

Atlas lighting a box weighing 4,5 kg. I suggest that Google employs him together with AlphaGo to form an invincible Go player.

… That’s what I learned in school!

Refs.:

1: Square Hole Drill

2: AlphaGo’s ultimate challenge: a five-game match against the legendary Lee Sedol

3: Atlas, the next generation

+: What did you learn in school today ?