Saturday, July 26, 2014

Compare and contrast: Pollution levels

The Air pollution chart for Taipei (a lower number means lower pollution levels):


And here is one for San Francisco:

One for Western Europe, including London and Paris:


And one for LA, known for its smog, notice the higher numbers, even as high as 99:

And Shanghai:

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Google translate fun

Some cool things you can do to check how Google Translate works. For example, does it always translate language to language, or does it first translate into English, and then into the target language?

This can be tested in some interesting ways. If you know Italian and German, check this out:


And if you know Italian and Chinese, check this out:


Notice the mistakes, and what caused them?



I originally got these from here: http://www.quora.com/Google-Translate/Is-it-true-that-when-translating-from-to-any-language-other-than-English-Google-Translate-translates-to-English-in-the-backend-software-before-translating-to-the-language-Ive-chosen

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Shanghai Library

At Shanghai Library. Great selection of foreign books and magazines, nice cafe and bookstore. Probably one of my favorite places here.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

I'm getting fed up with people who are fed up

Today someone posted this on my Facebook feed:

http://www.socialmedianews.com.au/was-albert-einstein-right-about-technology/

And a week or two ago, it was this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7dLU6fk9QY

Aside from the fact that the quote from the first link is apocryphal (There's an explanation here), the commonly accepted assumption here is that, since people are looking into their phones, they must obviously be playing stupid games and filling out dumb quizzes, rather than engaging in great banter or living their life to the fullest, as we all did with such fervor only 7 years ago.

Obviously none of these assumptions can necessarily be held as true. We wasted just as much time in past years as we do now. Before smartphones we had cell phones, before those we had tamagotchis, before those we had discmans and walkmans, and before those we still had trashy magazines, as so on and so forth. We always found a reason to be "anti-social". Case in point:




We all choose to use smartphones because they increase the choices we have in life. We can choose whether or not to install said game or app, and we can make full use of the ones we do decide to keep.

In fact, I would venture to say that a greater sign of our dumbing-down times is how we recreate the same tired arguments every time a new disruptive type of technology appears. In comparison to the Phone, Telegraph or TV, the smartphone is a rather small step, all things considered, and yet we still believe it will be the downfall of society. Well, I believe cynicism will bring our society down far sooner than any smart phone.

Here are some more quotes we can regurgitate for our smartphones, and how we don't have time to appreciate anything anymore (useful phrases are in bold):

http://xkcd.com/1227/