Archive for the ‘computers’ Category


Machine Translation making waves and how to make sure you know how to talk about it at the cocktail party

In Books,commercials,Community,computers,culture,facebook,Technology,work on October 5, 2016 by mstevensrev

bn-cz300_google_g_20140528135745In the past month(s) some of the news coming out from major technology companies have caught the media’s attention. At the same time my co-host for the Globally Speaking Podcast, Renato Beninatto , was really pushing us to make our most complex podcast to date on the topic as part of a series on the machines taking over:) Since then I have started doing my research in preparation for our conversations with leaders in the field. At this point I’m likely to help others talk intelligently at a cocktail party.

To date much of the conversation around Machine Translation, which has been around since the 1950s, mainly consisted of statistical and rule-based systems. Rule Based systems as the names signifies is based up linguistic rules that set how words will be translated, words from target language will replace the source language. Statistical machine translation focused on pattern recognition within translation and provided target based on huge amounts of parallel texts. Most of the effective machine engines for a time ended up being a Hybrid machine translation engine that incorporated the best of both methodologies..

Now neural networks are on the scene. To understand the effectiveness and basic outline of this technology check out a this great article, From not working to neural networking. As I understand the strength of the neural network is the depth of the data that is process. Rather then being limited to a number of rules or a corpus of strings to improve the quality. Neural machine translation operates beyond a string and by exposing it to a huge number of examples it will learn without telling it what to look for. There is a sight that even allows you to demo the Neural Machine Translation by LISA, which has been trained on a lot of data from the UN and European Parliament.

So since this has been going on for some time, why the news all of a sudden? For one Alan Packer from Facebook came out and said that the other forms (specifically statistical) of machine translation have reached their usefulness and Facebook is now focusing on the use of neural networks. Check out Rachel Metz’s article, Facebook Plans to Boost Its Translations Using Neural Networks This Year. Then this month Google has come out and said that Google Neural Machine Translation reduces errors by 60 percent, cool. NPR picking it up here, they interviewed a translator naysayer who felt the need to reinforce that professional translators will be needed.

Then during Google’s “Made by Google” Event, the implications of this break thru and artificial intelligence (AI) were discussed by Sudar Pichai during the early part of the event. The part about the implications for voice technology were interest, why do we only have one voice?

With all the excitement it is important to have other voices outside of Google and Facebook, so that we don’t all get caught up in the next wave of hype. For that check out the article, Hyperbolic? Experts Weigh In on Google Neural Translate from Florian Faes at Slater. Overall the opinions are rather favorable, so check it out.

Now you are on the road of looking like a star with your friends and new acquaintances. Glad to hear about other resources you are finding key on getting you up to speed with this great technology, if it’s something we use I’ll be sure to mention it on the podcast!

Sometimes I wish that I could go into a time machine right now and just look at my self and say, ‘Calm down. Things are gonna be fine. Things are gonna be all great. Just relax.’

-Tristan Wilds



Success in localization

In advertising,Bible,Books,business,Community,computers,culture,facebook,faith,leadership,Localization,Uncategorized on September 15, 2016 by mstevensrev


There are a number of models of success in the localization industry.

Each day billions of people use products they would otherwise not have access to because of the translator or editor and supporting services.

Global companies continue to drive higher revenues worldwide, often outside the country that the company was originally founded in.

An author gets his book out to an audience that doesn’t speak his native language.

Communities are being connected and the localization industry has a continued opportunity to onboard new groups of people to this exciting connected world we live in. Through this work we share in the beauty of the worlds growing diversity, and language is at the core of it.

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart. -Nelson Mandela


Favorite sales stories, and a new podcast

In advertising,banking,Books,business,commercials,computers,culture,design,generosity,humor,leadership,Localization,mission on September 14, 2016 by mstevensrev

sales-army.jpgToday we put our the latest episode of our podcast, Episode 010: What about Sales, from Globally Speaking. or you can listen and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google Play (USA or Canada), Stitcher, or via RSS. This inspired me to share a story that tells you how hard it is to do sales, which is something I am passionate about.

A few years ago before the localization industries primary trade show, LocWorld, I sent a note to a friend that I saw was going to be in attendance, offering to show him around town since the show was in Seattle. It had been a few years since I had connected with this friend and former client, so I thought it would be great to catch up. Surprisingly, to me, there was no response.

On the second night of the show we are at a bar and I see this friend I reached out to at the same bar with his colleagues enjoying a drink. The bar was closing, and I went up to see how he was doing. After some small talk he said, “You’re from here, where can we get another drink?” I had my car and offered to take them to another bar I knew would be open and fun. So we went out to my car, the four of us squeezing into a small two door car, once everyone was in I locked the door and asked, “No one is getting out of the car until I found out why you didn’t respond to my email.” There was laughter, but I did not move or start the car as everyone looked around.

Finally my friend went to explain that he had received no less then 400 emails or LinkedIn InMail before the conference. Some were offering him “10% less then his current prices, guaranteed.” He then apologized, under the threat of never getting out of my car, and went on to explain how it was impossible to separate the signal from the noise in such circumstances…so he just shut off.

Not only was it fun to reconnect with an old friend, but he insight was shocking to me. How do you distinguish yourself when people have shut off because there is too much noise? How do you respect a person’s desire to not be bother but also let them know that you are thinking about them? This is the work and the art of sales, each person and company are unique but the principles you have in place to tackle this obstacle are key in your success.

Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman – not the attitude of the prospect.

-W. Clement Stone


Reflections on the death of Steve Jobs

In Apple,art,Bible,computers,Evangelist on November 9, 2011 by mstevensrev

Steve Jobs is dead.  He had a huge influence in my life over the past four years as I managed localization for Apple.  There were multiple clients in the organization but most excited was Apple Retail which could be the most successful retail operating in the history of business and I got to be on the front line of their global launches.  Thought it was meeting with a client from the Apple Online Store when I stood five feet from Steve Jobs in the cafeteria.  This was roughly a year ago, and he was not well.  Even then he was mystifying, he was very dialed into the conversation he was in  and all I wanted to do was sit close enough to hear him.  There was no distracting him from whatever the matter at hand was that day.

So Steve’s death has caught my attention.  It started with this quote, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement Address  The day after his death I saw this quote.  I had just been fired from my job, basically the second job change in the same calendar year which I had left a very influential church in my life, taken on two car payments and a mortgage.  The biggest question I had was, “Who am I.”  Steve nailed it for me, take responsibility as I am my own person.

Then my friend Dick Staub of The Kindlings had a thoughtful and beautiful article picked up by the Washington Post titled What did Steve Jobs see at the end?  If you have not read it yet, you should.  Let go of judgment and walk through the article.
After these ideas have been in my head for a few days now, here is what I am taking away

1. Death should effect how I live

Most of my life is protected from having to think about death, and then it invades like a virus which I though we have cured.  The reality sets in that we do not make it out alive.  Every moment is a gift and what should I do with it.  There is no place for negativity, since I am able to make self pity a lifestyle choice.  Tomorrow will take care of itself, the things I am scared of are smaller than they appear in my head, and out of my mouth comes what lies in my heart and frankly it is often a big pile of shit unless I am intentional about filling what little time I have with love.  So I bought a Costco sized bag of bird feed, and put on Crocks to walk out and fill my two bird feeders in my year.  I stop like Brother Lawrence and give thanks for every dirty diaper I change or mess on the kitchen table I clean up, because this is life and if it were not messy it would not be real, and there will be a day when I die.
2. Adoption means you were chosen, not that you were abandoned
In self pity and fear I look out and ask “Where were you?”  I ask this of my friends, pastors, family, but most often God.  Looking back on my life those moments where I have seemed to be most left on my own, are exactly the moments where my deepest need is reached and I am loved the most.  Losing a job, being abuse, being kicked out of the Garden are awful and wonderful gifts when we have been hired again, loved unconditionally and moving into a mansion.  Roman 8:12-16, explains this well and intimately especially when it says, 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” My slavery has been fear and abandonment, and my joy and child likeness is my adoption.
3. Passion does not trump gratefulness
One seminary professor named Steve Brown warned us to not make the person who died Jesus himself, he didn’t tell us that while most people do get nostalgic regarding the one who has passed most of us have been big enough assholes at some point in life that people remember that too.  Steve Jobs treated people horribly at times.  I am not talking about his shrewd business actions, but rather the folklore around the Apple campus.  On you first trip to campus they warn you, “If Steve gets in an elevator with you get out before the door closes, he has fired people on a on floor ride.”  Also, “If Steve asks you what you do for Apple you say, ‘Sorry I’m not able to tell you I’m under disclosure and not sure if you’ve been disclosed.'”  A spouse of a co-worker of mine was the assistant to the Engineer who maintained Steve’s gear, laptop, phone, etc.  When the guy retried he moved positions rather than work directly for Steve in such a intensely demanding position.  People matter, they matter a great deal so much that my scripture tells me not a hair falls from anyones head without God knowing it.  I long to be passionate but not at the expense others.
4. Timing matters but so does presentation
Steve was a master at both, a true showman.  I know that Guy Kawasaki gets most of the credit with the term Evangelist, as he should, but there is no one better then Steve.  He might has well been the guy outside the bearded lady at the Circus, when he presented it was on my calendar and I made time to follow what was going on.  I look forward to learning this one,  yes if I got it this post would have been out more than a week ago.  At the same time thoughts matter, the creative process is important, and hopefully in this moment a little love and passion was shared.


Getting my kids into the tangable

In art,Books,business,computers,culture,family,k ids on August 11, 2011 by mstevensrev

My work allows me to be around amazing technology and the people who make it.  I have worked intimately with leading companies and gotten to see first hand the artistic nature of writing code and then it coming to life.  For most consumers though this elaborate process simple becomes a means of consuming content, the creative is behind the curtain and often ignored.

I started thinking about this because of a conversation with a new friend where in talking about raising children she mentioned the importance of having books around in addition to the ‘screens’ that are apart of our daily existence.  She said, “I want my kids to have something tangible.”  Which stuck with me.

Tangible things create limits very quickly for us.  That is the magic of technology, Ray Ozzie said that the entire reason he started programming is because he knew if he could imagine it, he could create it.  There is a huge difference though in my mind between creating and consuming.  When I pick up a trumpet I immediately run into the limitations of my lips, training, lungs, and everything else.  When I play a trumpet on Garageband I am free of many limitations.

As a parent of three kids I am often looking for the easy way to get through situations, and I am keenly aware that is not the best.  Hand a kid a screen, and they will be entertained for an hour, teach the kid what about life the screen makes magical and they will be caught up in the wonder of life.



>The last act of a desperate advertiser

In advertising,commercials,computers,Microsoft on April 14, 2009 by mstevensrev

>What happens when nothing works in advertising? For one reason or another you can’t say 3 out of 4 doctors recommend (or whatever affinity group there is for you product), or someone else owns ‘cool’, then what are you left with? KIDS.

Now you see this in the cigarette industry, science shows smoking is bad for you, and Marlboro owns cool with the Marlboro Man, so what is Camel to do? Joe Camel. Now you see something similar with Microsoft’s most recent advertising. Cute, smart articulate kids.

This is part critique but also just an observation. I am the type of person who loves to watch, “Kid’s say the darn’est things.” Actually in college I would watch it on Friday night before going out, so I really am dorky for cute kids. The commercials are cute and they send a few good messages. First computers are easy to use, and second kids are creative and should be encouraged in creativity.

If you haven’t seen them yet check the out: The Rookies: Alexa, Age 7