Archive | December, 2012

WSJ: How Waiters Read Your Table

27 Dec

Important information for a writer: How Waiters Read a Table

Called “having eyes” for a table, or “feeling” or “reading” the table by restaurant workers, it’s how the best waiters know what type of service you prefer before you tell them. From fine dining to inexpensive chains, restaurants are working to make service more individualized as the standard script (‘I’m so-and-so and I will be your server tonight”) is sounding dated.

Cereal Killers

13 Dec

Trailer in search of a movie. Enjoy. 🙂

Amazing tale of a desperate WWII pilot’s encounter with a German flying ace

9 Dec

Great story:

Brown thought he was hallucinating. He did that thing you see people do in movies: He closed his eyes and shook his head no. He looked, again, out the co-pilot’s window. Again, the lone German was still there, and now it was worse. He’d flown over to Brown’s left and was frantic: pointing, mouthing things that Brown couldn’t begin to comprehend, making these wild gestures, exaggerating his expressions like a cartoon character.Brown, already in shock, was freshly shot through with fear. What was this guy up to? He craned his neck and yelled back for his top gunner, screamed at him to get up in his turret and shoot this guy out of the sky. Before Brown’s gunner could squeeze off his first round, the German did something even weirder: He looked Brown in the eye and gave him a salute. Then he peeled away.

Duolingo: Free Language Learning Software & Crowdsourced Translation Service

6 Dec

Learn a language for free & your homework is sold as a service:

“Most language-learning software providers have no incentive for you to learn,” he says. “Once [they] get your $500, they’re happy. We’ll do a lot to get you to come back, because it really matters.” His hoped-for translation business depends on it.
That’s why the company’s 20 employees in Pittsburgh spend most of their time getting the software to teach better. Von Ahn says that so far about 30 percent of people who start learning a language will still be visiting the site a week later. That figure may sound low, but it’s impressive for any Web service, he says. Duolingo users are drilled on new words using both written exercises and audio (the software can detect and assess their pronunciation). As they progress, their performance is used to decide what lessons they get next.It adds up to a free course several hundred hours long that can take a student from zero knowledge of a second tongue to what von Ahn describes as “intermediate level” ability—the kind you’d need to get by on a foreign vacation or grasp the gist of a newspaper article.
The other side of the business comes in when students are asked to practice by translating single sentences from one language to another. Those sentences are currently taken from sites von Ahn thinks should be translated anyway, such as English Wikipedia articles without equivalents in Spanish

Duolingo: Free Language Learning Software & Crowdsourced Translation Service

6 Dec

http://www.technologyreview.com/news/506656/the-cleverest-business-model-in-online-education/

Learn a language for free & your homework is sold as a service:

“Most language-learning software providers have no incentive for you to learn,” he says. “Once [they] get your $500, they’re happy. We’ll do a lot to get you to come back, because it really matters.” His hoped-for translation business depends on it.
That’s why the company’s 20 employees in Pittsburgh spend most of their time getting the software to teach better. Von Ahn says that so far about 30 percent of people who start learning a language will still be visiting the site a week later. That figure may sound low, but it’s impressive for any Web service, he says. Duolingo users are drilled on new words using both written exercises and audio (the software can detect and assess their pronunciation). As they progress, their performance is used to decide what lessons they get next.It adds up to a free course several hundred hours long that can take a student from zero knowledge of a second tongue to what von Ahn describes as “intermediate level” ability—the kind you’d need to get by on a foreign vacation or grasp the gist of a newspaper article.
The other side of the business comes in when students are asked to practice by translating single sentences from one language to another. Those sentences are currently taken from sites von Ahn thinks should be translated anyway, such as English Wikipedia articles without equivalents in Spanish

The Technium: 1,000 True Fans

6 Dec

All you need are 1,000 True Fans:

A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can’t wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans.