Video: Skype’s new real-time language translation feature.

Skype Translator currently allows Spanish and English speakers to communicate in real-time, with the translated speech read out at the other end as well as being written down the side of the screen. According to Microsoft, this is just a pilot, with many more languages to follow.

To get Skype Translator Preview, you’ll need to be running Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 preview.

Once upon a time, a friend of mine accidentally took over thousands of computers. He had found a vulnerability in a piece of software and started playing with it. In the process, he figured out how to get total administration access over a network. He put it in a script, and ran it to see what would happen, then went to bed for about four hours. Next morning on the way to work he checked on it, and discovered he was now lord and master of about 50,000 computers. After nearly vomiting in fear he killed the whole thing and deleted all the files associated with it. In the end he said he threw the hard drive into a bonfire. I can’t tell you who he is because he doesn’t want to go to Federal prison, which is what could have happened if he’d told anyone that could do anything about the bug he’d found. Did that bug get fixed? Probably eventually, but not by my friend. This story isn’t extraordinary at all. Spend much time in the hacker and security scene, you’ll hear stories like this and worse.

It’s hard to explain to regular people how much technology barely works, how much the infrastructure of our lives is held together by the IT equivalent of baling wire.

Computers, and computing, are broken.


Logic, Memory Combine for ‘High-rise’ Chip

For decades, the mantra of electronics has been smaller, faster, cheaper. Today, Stanford engineers add a fourth word — taller.

At a conference in San Francisco, a Stanford team will reveal how to build “high-rise” chips that could leapfrog the performance of the single-story logic and memory chips on today’s circuit cards.

Read more:

Using Phase-Change Memory to Gate Multiple Logic Functions In A Single Bit

Phase change materials can switch between two forms depending on how quickly they’re cooled. Cool them quickly and you get an amorphous form, which provides significant resistance to the flow of electrons. Cool them slowly and they will allow electrons to flow more readily. Once cooled, these two forms remain stable, locking the differences in conduction in place.

This difference has been exploited to create a type of storage called phase change memory that’s as fast as standard RAM but retains its contents between power cycles…

Last year, researchers showed that phase change memory could also be used to create logic gates, the basic functional units of a modern computer. The original work involved hooking up individual phase change memory bits with resistors in precise combinations. Although the approach worked, the operations were much slower than what we’d need for a functional computer.

The new work, performed by a collaboration between researchers in Cambridge UK and Singapore, attempts to both simplify and speed up the operation of these phase change circuits…

The authors consider their low-heat pulse to be binary zero and the high-heat version to be binary 1. They then show that the value left in the bit after various combinations of pulses makes the single bit the equivalent of binary NOR gate (low-low doesn’t flip it to 0; everything else does). By changing the timing of the pulses, it’s possible to get it to operate like a NAND gate. And using a single pulse causes the same bit to operate like an OR gate. Thus, a single piece of hardware can handle various logical operations depending on the input it’s given.

The other key difference with previous work is the speed at which these bits can switch. In the earlier paper, it took dozens of nanoseconds in order for a bit to change state. Here, the fast switching allows state changes in as little as 900 picoseconds—much closer to the speed of modern processors.

It’s not clear exactly how useful it is to have a single bit perform multiple functions. The authors suggest that it may be a solution to increase computers’ ability to scale, but there would clearly be a fair bit of control logic involved in arranging to send the right combinations of pulses to the individual bits. The authors also fuss about the fast switching they’ve enabled, but some of the logical operations require a separation between pulses that stretches out the time involved considerably.

(via Phase change memory lets a single bit act as different logic gates | Ars Technica)

12 Tips For Studying
  1. Set goals. Be sure they are realistic and achievable. Make them small to start.
  2. Establish rewards for progress toward your goals.
  3. Expect set-backs and when they happen, re-direct and renew your energy toward your goals.  Don’t give up.
  4. Use the power of positive thinking and believe in yourself. Overcome discouragement.
  5. Tell others what you are trying to accomplish and seek support from loved ones.
  6. Learn to  say no to options and distractions that deter you from your goal. Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off the goal.
  7. Establish routine and regular exercise; meditation, prayer or yoga, even if it is only 15 minutes a day to start. This will help you to  cultivate discipline.
  8. Use positive imagery to help you achieve your goals. Imagine yourself as you will be and feel when your goal is achieved.
  9. Spend time  reflecting or talking to others about what has stopped you from achieving your goals in the past.
  10. Post reminders and inspirational quotes in prominent places about what you want to achieve.
  11. Get professional help and support to overcome physical or mental roadblocks (depression and anxiety are just two examples) and to bolster your efforts, no matter how small they may seem.
  12. Practice extreme self care. Good health is essential to positive thinking and feeling, which will take you a long way toward achieving your goals

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