Language

Language

I have always found language learning to be challenging and also very frustrating. I took 4 years of Spanish in High School and 2 years in College and can barely remember anything I learned during that time. I have been convinced that the methods used to teach language learning in American classrooms are terrible and that other methods can be far more successful than the classroom environment. I spent a summer in Mexico and got myself to a point where I could understand a lot of Spanish, but speaking it was entirely different and very difficult for me. I can read Spanish better than I can listen to it or speak it, but that provides limited benefit when trying to interact with somebody.

I was recently reading about some of the cognitive benefits of being bilingual in this Science News Article. The article spends a lot of time mentioning the benefits for children who learn two languages early in life, but also mentioned adults benefitting from being bilingual. These benefits include quicker thinking and problem solving skills. In addition to cognitive benefits for the bilingual individual, language helps shape our world view. Stanford University and MIT have been researching how a persons language impacts how they view the world and how they perceive or not perceive various aspects of their surroundings. The movie Arrival takes this concept to the extreme with an alien species teaching a human a language that causes her to perceive time itself differently where she no longer lives her life linearly. I don’t believe language can impact our perception of reality to this extreme, but I believe it helps shape how we view the world. I have a minor in Cross Cultural Studies so I have always been interested in how different people view the world. This is also the lens I use to look at politics and I always find it interesting that people can view the same events and the same set of facts and come to completely different conlusions. An individuals world view has a profound impact on their life. Learning another language, in theory, would allow me to see the world differently, to think about it differently and to understand things differently. My theory has been that bilingual speakers have an advantage in being able to see the world from a unique perspective because of how language shapes their world view. At 39 years old I have felt that I have missed the window to learn a new language and become a bilingual individual. Fortunately research shows I am not too old to learn a new language, but it may be more difficult than if I had tried when I was younger. If I put the time into it, I should be able to achieve one of my life goals of being bilingual.

As I pondered how I would go about learning Spanish again I had a thought, “Why should I learn Spanish?” My initial thought was that it should be easier due to my education and background. Then I thought “I don’t want easy.” I want a challenge. I want to do something that I am not sure is possible for me to do. I decided to see what languages are the most commonly spoken around the world. I learned that the top 3 languages are Chinese, Spanish and then English. Chinese is spoken by 1.2 billion people and China is making significant strides in business and technology. My interest in cryptocurrency and what Tron (TRX) is doing also has sparked an interest in China and how internet decentralization could be good for people living in China and the rest of the world. This is when I decided to look into learning Chinese. I found an app for my phone (Hello Chinese) that makes bold claims that in 10 minutes a day I could be fluent in Chinese in 3 months. While I don’t believe that claim, I found there are many tools to help someone who is a beginner start learning Chinese. Duolingo is another app that I will be using to try and learn some of the basics. So, I downloaded the app and started down the path of learning Chinese. Additional interest in Chinese stems from having friends who will be adopting from China in the coming months and a co-worker from China who can correct any improper pronunciation I may have along the way, which I am certain will be an issue for me. If 10 minutes a day gets me to where I would be at a 5 year olds level of communication I would consider that a huge success.

Now, this is where I also had another thought. “Why stop at being bilingual? Why not trilingual?” That would certinaly be more difficult than only knowing two languages and if I were to be able to communicate in English, Spanish and Chinese then I would have the three most widely used languages on the planet covered. That would be an impressive accomplishment. So, I am also going to be practicing more Spanish while focusing on Chinese. I am also looking for apps that connect people interested in language learning for live discussion and practice (HelloTalk and WeSpeke are two I have located so far). I recognize that without actually speaking my learning will be inhibited so I will need to find ways to practice speaking.

It is currently May 9, 2018 and my goal is to have basic fluency in both Chinese and Spanish by May 2020. I am hopeful that the concept of 10 minutes a day is actually enough for this old brain of mine to learn a new language. I am also hopeful that I will be able to achieve this goal well before the two year window I am giving myself. I figure the worst that will happen is that I will still only speak English by this time in 2020.

Robotics and Artificial Intelligence

Robotics and Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence and Robotics are going to change the world within my lifetime. Tasks that people do every day will become things that robots or other devices will take care of for us. Imagine having a robot in your home that would handle your dishes, do the laundry, even prepare dinner for your family. It sounds like something out of a science fiction movie. As wild as it may seem the technology for devices or robots like this are beginning to emerge.

I stayed at the West Wing hotel in Tampa, FL that used a robot to deliver pillows, blankets and any items you may request from the front desk. My family was fascinated by this robot and we followed it around and watched it navigate around us and even control the elevator. It is basic, but it does its job well and frees up the front desk staff to focus on customers coming into the hotel. It is a robot that doesn’t replace anyone, but allows the person on site to focus on other tasks. I used to work in hotels and often had to leave the front desk to deliver items. Murphy’s Law always had someone come in who needed to check in or needed assistance while I was away from the desk. So, Wes, the robot at West Wing is a truly great use of new technology, which I am sure is just a sample of things to come.

Care-O-bot 4 is a modular robot that can be programmed to do various tasks. Far more avanced than the robot I saw in person. This robot has two arms and can move around and manipulate items it encounters much more like a person would do. This hardware framework coupled with advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) could mean highly functional robots doing tasks around the world within a few decades. Once this technology gets a consumer friendly point of entry, lives will be changed. I am sure it will begin with the wealthy having robots doing tasks for them, but as the technology becomes more refined and affordable a robot in your home may become a normal thing within 20 years.

We are already beginning to see the impact of autonomous cars and how they alone will change how people travel. Autonomous vehicles could impact even the core desire to own an automobile. If the vehicle drives itself, will people want to own it? Aspects of our society will change as robots begin to do more for us. Ideally this will allow people to do other more desirable or valuable tasks and not deal with tasks that can be automated. This will involve a cultural shift and could mean some jobs or positions may be filled by robots in the future. Time will tell if this possible future is on the horizon, but it looks like the pieces are lining up for actual highly functional robots will be a reality in my lifetime.

Verified on Po.et

April 11th 2018, 21:34

Namecheap Shared Hosting OwnCloud php.ini

Namecheap Shared Hosting OwnCloud php.ini

I ran into an issue with my OwnCloud installation with Namecheap giving me errors. One error involved needing to disable Magic Quotes, and the other was related to PDO not being installed. I looked around and nobody was sharing their php.ini file for OwnCloud on Namecheap. I have OwnCloud installed in a subdirectory on a Namecheap Shared Hosting account. So this post is simply me sharing my php.ini file. If you install OwnCloud on Namecheap create a file called php.ini in your OwnCloud install directory. Edit the php.ini and put only the following in the file:

[PHP]
magic_quotes_gpc = off
extension=pdo.so
extension=pdo_sqlite.so
extension=sqlite.so
extension=pdo_mysql.so

Save the file.

Now your OwnCloud install should work without any errors.

Enjoy!

Why Email Encryption?

Why Email Encryption?

Before email if you wanted to send a letter to someone you would write it out, put it an an envelope, seal the envelope, buy a stamp and send it off with your mail carrier. How would you have felt if you got a call that said your letter had arrived but it had been opened and on the pages were food stains, etc? Clear evidence that the letter had been read. Both parties in this scenario would feel violated, and rightly so. Someone had read a private note that was not meant for them.

This happens with email daily, the only difference is we don’t see any evidence of tampering when we get the message. Since Edward Snowden’s leaking of NSA information it is clear that one of the groups reading our emails is the NSA. But it can also be someone in an internet cafe, or a server admin. Email is plain text as it travels from point A to point B. And sometimes those two points go through a lot of servers. But since we don’t see the evidence we don’t seem to feel the same level of being violated. What was thought to be private simply is not when email is used. But email isn’t going anywhere, so what can we do to give ourselves privacy and still use email?

We can promote email encryption. Email encryption makes it so the contents of your message can only be read by the intended recipient. It won’t matter if someone in the internet cafe intercepts your message, or a server admin tries to peek in on what is being sent through his or her servers. They can still intercept the message, but they can’t read it. Just like the postal carrier can see who a letter is from and who a letter is to, with encrypted email this is also all that can be ascertained.

In an ideal scenario we would all use encryption, but we don’t. In fact very few people encrypt their emails. I personally at this time only know two people who use email encryption. There are two main reasons why I don’t think email encryption is popular.

  1. People don’t care enough.
  2. Using encryption takes some learning and some technical know how.

To address these two reasons I will be writing about encryption from time to time outlining scenarios where I believe email encryption is pertinent if not essential. As a Christian and someone who likes to believe that History can teach us valuable lessons,  I believe it is very important that we consider using email encryption, especially for missionaries in various locations around the globe. I will delve into this more in a later blog posting. In addition I will be writing up some ‘How To’ posts regarding how to use the two most common forms of email encryption. OpenPGP and S/Mime. Once you set them up email encryption is fairly painless.

If you would like to send me an encrypted email you can fill out a form on my Contact page. This form will encrypt the message before it even leaves your browser so at no point is the message ever plain text. I would welcome any correspondence on this topic.

The Zune Brick

The Zune Brick

Just as thousands of other 30GB Zune Owners experienced today, my Zune has become a brick. It is stuck at the loading screen, and no buttons work. This is currently being called Y2k9 or Z2K as a play off of the Y2k scare back in 2000. The funny thing is that this is more real than Y2K. The 30GB Zunes have actually stopped working.

Here is a picture of my Bricked Zune.

3918

The rumor is that tomorrow at noon GMT time the 30GB Zune’s will come back to life. Lets see if that actually happens….

gospelr.com – Good News for Social Networking

gospelr.com – Good News for Social Networking


I happened across a micro-blogging / status updating service intended for Christians that I would like to share with you. It is called gospelr (sounds like gospeler). The idea behind this service is for Christians to share updates with family and friends (just like twitter, or any other similar service), but also to broadcast prayer requests or ministry updates to a social community of believers. I think this is a very clever use of social technology to promote the Gospel. It is nice to see a young generation of Christians thinking outside of the box and looking for new avenues to share their faith, and to help others do the same. I have big hopes for gospelr.com and hope they can pull in a large base of Christian users.

Gospelr.com is also connected with Twitter (via Twitters API), so you can actually setup your gospelr.com account to automatically post to twitter.com as well. This is a nice addition which makes it so you won’t need to post your update in multiple places, you could simply update gospelr.com and twitter gets it too. I am personally hoping that ping.fm will support this service in the near future as well. (I use ping.fm to update a wide array of social networks all at once.)

So, why not check out gospelr.com and see how social networking can be used to share the Good News?

PS: If you are interested you can find me on gospelr.com at http://gospelr.com/jeffbristow