I am struggling to learn German.  It is not reading and writing, which surprisingly is easy in German. German like Spanish and as opposed to French or English, has clear rules of pronunciation.  What is hard, really hard, is to understand German, and this is not only because of the vocabulary and phonetics but mainly because of the grammar.  So as I struggle with German grammar I wondered if computers would find the challenge equally daunting.  I did a number of random translations using Google and Bing from German to English and from Spanish to English and voilá! translation engines also failed. Translations made from Spanish to English are of much better quality than from German to English.  Here are some examples. You can replicate my tests even if you don’t speak Spanish or German, just input the original text in the translators and see  which translations sound better in English.

Random paragraph from Die Welt

Der Ausbau der Fotovoltaik ist in Deutschland zwar ins Stocken geraten. Doch in dieser Woche feierte die Agentur für erneuerbare Energien noch einmal die gewaltigen Ausmaße der Solarstromproduktion, die Deutschland mithilfe üppiger Subventionen inzwischen aufgebaut hat.

Google Translator

The expansion of photovoltaics is indeed stalled in Germany. But this week, the agency celebrated for renewable energies once again the enormous size of the solar power production, Germany using lush subsidies has been able to build.

Bing Translator

The expansion of photovoltaics is advised while in Germany stalled. But this week, the Agency for renewable energies once again celebrated the huge proportions ofthe solar power production, which Germany has now built using abundant subsidies.

Random Paragraph from El Pais

Metroscopia detecta un claro cambio de opinión entre los ciudadanos respecto a la amenaza del terrorismo yihadista después de los atentados de París contra la revista Charlie Hebdo, que causaron un gran impacto en todo el mundo y también en España.

Google Translator

Metroscopia detected a clear change of opinion among citizens regarding the threat of jihadist terrorism after the attack of Paris against the magazine Charlie Hebdo, which caused a big impact around the world and also in Spain.

Bing

Metroscopia detects a clear change of opinion among the citizens about the threat of jihadist terrorism after the attacks in Paris against the magazine Charlie Hebdo,which caused a great impact worldwide and also in Spain.

Cloud computing concept with copy space Most of what we store in the cloud is for contemporary consumption. But some files, like the pictures of my 1, 3 and 8 year olds I want around throughout their lives. In the past this meant preserving a photo album. Now their memories will be in data centers around the world facing significant threats over the next 100 years. Some of the threats are physical, but the most significant threat is cloud company bankruptcy. Like how can I be sure that Facebook will be alive for as long as my kids. That is why I would be more confident if cloud companies had cloud insurance. Should your favorite social network dissappear Prudential Insurance for example, would keep their data centers running your kids memories preserved. In the meantime I store at Facebook, Google, Flickr and Apple. Paranoid? No, I just want to make sure our family history doesn’t dissappear when somebody pulls a plug on a company that everyone loved 50 years before.

(Photo credit: Pentestmag)

What follows here is a warning, a thought, an unlikely outcome but one that the EU should be concerned about.

I worry about the Russian angle of the Greek crisis.

I think that the only opportunity the EU has to force the Greeks to keep the debt deal they agreed to before Syriza rose to power is to threaten to dry up the Greek banking system overnight. Trust in Greek banks by Greek citizens is currently evaporating. Greek banks are already experiencing a run. But my concern with this move is that it would make EU and especially Germany look cruel and insensitive and that  Putin may seize the moment, step in,  and provide the liquidity the Greek banks need to be solvent.  Emerge as a savior in the eyes of the Greek people.  He could do to the EU what he did to Ukraine, cut it in two with a piece of it that responds to him.  Moreover this move could cost Russia nothing, he could bring the euros in to make Greece solvent as a guarantee,  and then take them out in a few months. Because Greece can function if it doesn’t have to pay it’s gigantic debt. Greece can have an external and internal surplus very quickly.

The EU has a consensus driven voting system by which a single member state can block policy for all of the EU. Having one member state on Russia’s side would mean a great deal to Putin. The unanimity that is so needed in making EU policy would be broken by Greece. A Greece that votes as instructed by Putin would be an enormous problem for the EU and USA. And remember, there is no mechanism to expel an EU member. All of Greece could become Putin’s Trojan horse.

Likely? No, especially now that oil prices have collapsed.  Possible? Yes.

NYC had 911, London the July 7th tube attack, Madrid the Atocha train bombs that left over 200 dead and 1000 injured, Boston the marathon bombers, and now Paris had the Charlie Hebdo-Jewish supermarket massacre. All horrible attaks. But each time these bombings and shootings take place commentators argue that this is the beginning of a war between Islam and the West. Over years they have predicted many more innocent victims dying in the hands of Islamist extremists. But much to their surprise, in each of these cases, the murderers were uniquely sick individuals not representative of the 1.5 billion other Muslims and more attacks did not materialize in each city.

The lack of other attacks has shown that the vast majority of Muslims who live in Europe and USA are not willing to join the ranks of the murderers and are as disgusted as non Muslims. They feel towards extremists as we feel towards the Norwegian attacker or the Newtown killer. Does the Muslim religion currently produce more people willing to kill in the name of Islam? I think this is undeniable. But to be fair the West produces a lot of people who are willing to unfairly kill and torture in the name of “freedom” in places as Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo. And if we simply count victims, Muslim victims outnumber non Muslim victims at over 100 to 1. The victims of Islamic terrorism in the Muslim world, are mostly other Muslims.

I am very excited to announce that this year Gramofon will provide the ultimate home audio experience with the integration of Qualcomm’s AllPlay feature!

At the moment Gramofon works with Spotify, but AllPlay will increase our music service coverage to include TuneIn, iHeartRadio, Rhapsody, Aupeo, DoubleTwist, Soma FM, and Napster. AllPlay also allows you to stream music stored locally on your phone and play music from a DLNA server.

With AllPlay, Gramofon’s will be able to play music simultaneously over multiple Gramofons around the home. Place Gramofons in different rooms “group” them together to listen to the same music all over the house. You can also pick and choose which speakers to play from and “group” different rooms ex. Kitchen & Living Room. 

I am excited for this new phase of Gramofon. Creating a holistic music experience that allows you to play music from your favorite music services/your phone, and listen to them everywhere around the home, is what Gramofon has always strived for. 

Search on Facebook recently went from useless to awesome. Try searching a person you care about linked to a city, place, verb or noun and see for yourself how relevant to you Facebook search results now are. Facebook search is what it should have been all along, a search about those you care about in relationship to you. As a result there is more of a reason to use Facebook as a diary, a memory repository. Today our one year old David went under water for the first time, I recorded a video, put in on Facebook. Before the new Facebook search it would have been hard to find it in, say, 2017. I would have had to go through the 2015 timeline. But now I will only search “David water”. Try that with Google. Facebook is now a great personal search engine.

Netflix said I would love In a World and I loved In a World. But IMDB gives it a low rating. This says something about Netflix’s success as a recommendation engine. I don’t care what others think about a movie. I want to know if I will like a movie or not. And Netflix nails it for me. I wish there was something like Netflix for restaurants. Like my palate is so different from the average Trip Advisor restaurant reviewer that I find the app useless. Indeed my palate is quite different from that of many of my friends also, and so are other tastes like music. I think friends are an indication of what you may like, but not always and recommendation engines that are purely friend base fail for that.  I find it interesting and useful that Netflix does not rely on my friends to give me recommendations. Non personalized recommendations work for people with average taste, they work when there is a lot of conformity.  But if you differ from the mean you need a personalized recommendation engine. And that is Netflix for me, now what Netflix does for movies and TV series I want for:

People I can work with

Novels

Clothes

Sailing destinations

Art Galleries

Mountain bike rides

Restaurants

Neighborhoods in a new city

Museum exhibits

Music

Web sites

Children activities

Food stores

Consumer products

Conferences

Online Youtube/Vimeo type videos

Concerts

These last few days I have been spending a significant amount of time at the Miami playgrounds with Mia (3) and David (1), I have been observing the life of those under 5. I have seen that little kids, are rarely compassionate, caring for others must be taught to them, they are not generous, as Mia says “Dad, sharing is hard”, they are not organized and tend to leave toys and clothes behind, they are not clean and properly disposing of litter is not obvious to them.  Sometimes little kids are even violent, today Mia got hit by a 2 year old boy, totally out of the blue. But of all the children’s shortcoming there is one evil that is lacking in them; little kids are not racist. Little kids are born selfish, rude, but they are not born hating other races, they are not born noticing other races, racism is taught to them. At the playgrounds of South Beach there is a big mix of races, but race, makes no difference, it’s not even part of the vocabulary that kids used to describe one another.  Makes you think, what is it that we do to them. And what could be different.

I used to complain that Facebook was a black hole of memories. That memories, moments, once posted, would never be found again. That scrolling your timeline forever was not a way to find anything.  Before say, if I searched for the name of our boat in Menorca, Benebella I would get totally random stuff. Now I get all the posts of mine and of my friends about Benebella.  Or if I search Gramofon, our cloud music player, I get all the posts of mine and my friends about the Gramofon. Still what Facebook search does not do, that Twitter does so well,  is to show me all the posts that anyone writes about the Gramofon or any search term.  This type of search is especially useful for companies.  Facebook could do this at least on all posts written in public mode. I hope that comes soon.  But at least now I can begin to find my own stuff on Facebook and that is great news. 

During my entrepreneurship career I founded several companies in the fields of medicine, telecommunications, I.T and internet. Yes, I said medicine. I took a medicine course in NYU in the 80s and I worked with Claudio Cuello, with Cesar Milstein,  who won the Nobel Prize for discovering monoclonal antibodies and with Phil Gold, the discoverer of CEA, the first biomarker for detecting and monitoring cancer. I was always interested in medicine, and by this post I wanted to talk about a project my friend Leandro Sigman, the CEO of Chemo, a Spanish pharmaceutical company, and I want to carry out. We are looking for a woman to be the CEO of this project. Yes, that is correct, a woman. We believe this project is for women, and as such it should be run by a woman. The idea is simple: to convince as many women who haven’t turned 37 yet as possible to freeze their eggs. The earlier they do it, the more chances they will have to get pregnant and to have a healthy baby. What many women do not know, is that the health of their babies depends on when their eggs were frozen and not on when they got pregnant. If a 43 years old woman uses the eggs she froze when she was 32, there is a very high probability that she will get pregnant and will have a healthy baby.

When I started Jazztel in 2000, we had a message to give: there was an alternative to Telefonica, and cheaper and better telecom services were possible. We did it in a funny way. We hired ex managers of Telefonica, who were thrilled to appear on TV dressed as prisoners and say they tricked people. They did their “confession” and they recommended Jazztel to everybody. For this project, if we want to give a funny message, it should be something like: “Freeze your eggs and don’t get married to the first jerk you meet when you are 35″ or “Throw away your biological clock”. Or maybe something not that funny, but more meaningful: “I can have a baby when I am 40 as well”. Because, no matter what people say, the ugly truth is that even though women live more than 80 years, their fertility goes down by the age of 35. And there is a very simple way for a woman to have a baby and to not be left on the shelf (a cruel expression) and it is to freeze their eggs.If you are a woman, you live in Madrid or you can move here, you are preferably a doctor,an you have good communication skills, Leandro and I can help you to start a project that will be very interesting for you and very valuable for all other women. We see this like an investment in communications and its goal is to guide every woman to the best clinic where she can go under a procedure that will take no longer than 5 hours and will change her life forever. Send me an email to martinvars@me.com

Español / English


Subscribe to e-mail bulletin:
Recent Tweets