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 ?

2017-03-12 (Sunday)

Today, I learned that:

Even if you loose your voice, there are now ever better means of communicating with other people. Of course you can write, if you are able, but you must agree with me that an audio is much easier to grasp than a text, one can continue with most other activities and still understand what is being said. (But take very much care, even if you use a handsfree mobile phone in your car, your attention to the ongoing call is often so high that you can be a menace to other drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians.)

Yesterday, I watched the 2014 movie about Stephen Hawking and his first wife Jane, “The Theory of Everything”. In the very moment when Stephen is first heard through his mechanical voice, Jane is pretty excited, but complains that the voice has an American accent. If that had happened today, the genius, who recently celebrated his 75th anniversary, could use his own voice, although generated artificially. More about the movie and Stephen Hawking can be found in references #1 and 2 below.

And now over to the story about Jason Liversidge and his new voice: Just like Stephen Hawking, Jason, who lives in Yorkshire in northeast England, suffers from the neurological disease called ALS. The first symptoms appeared almost 10 years ago, but it was only three years ago that he got the diagnosis of ALS. His own voice is still working, but sometimes he needs a backup voice, and then he can use his computer which generates sounds with the same accent as Jason’s, “not the posh English accent”. His artificial voice was created from a video recording of a speech he made some years ago, combined with speech from other men from Yorkshire. A research institute in Edinburgh, Scotland, were then able to recreate Jason’s voice synthetically. The proper Jason and his family recognize the similarity of both voices. Reference #3 appoints to the radio program from Radio Sweden (in Swedish) which tells the whole story.

Jason

Jason Liversidge from Yorkshire already has a sounds-alike backup to his voice when his own does not perform as desired. Photo by Stephanie Zakrisson/Sveriges Radio.

Exactly one year ago, 2016-03-12, I published a video showing Atlas, a robot from Boston Dynamics performing gracious movements. But it did not stop there, look at this video of its newest sibling, Handle, in reference # 4 below, SIMPLY AMAZING!

BR-PY2

Ponte da Amizade (“Bridge of Friendship”) joining Foz do Iguaçu – PR, Brazil, where the photo was taken on 2017-01-26 by my daughter, with Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, in the left side.

The photo above shows another view of the Paraná River, this time from the Brazilian side, shot 200 km South of the photo from 2016-11-30. It shows the bridge interconnecting the Brazilian city of Foz do Iguaçu – PR, to the right, and the Paraguayan city of Ciudad del Este. Not long ago, this bridge used to be packed with people and cars returning to Brazil from a shopping spree in Paraguay, but the ongoing financial crisis has also here had a devasting effect. (I already published a photo from Foz do Iguaçu on 2016-01-28).

… That’s what I learned in school !

byran
Do you need to TRANSLATE DOCUMENTS between ENGLISH, BRAZILIAN PORTUGUESE, and the SCANDINAVIAN (SWEDISH / DANISH / NORWEGIAN) languages? Contact “Byrån / The Taskforce” here !!!

Refs.:
1: The Theory of Everything

2: Stephen Hawking

3: Talsyntes på dialekt stärker identiteten

4: Introducing Handle

*: What did you learn in school today ?