Smartphone Camera Is A Language Translator

Does everyone know about this but me? You can place your smartphone camera over any foreign language sentence (book, sign, movie marquee) and you can get an automatic translation. All you need to do is download the Word Lens app.

If you knew about this, why didn’t you tell me? I found out about it from my cousin Hanna. I simply asked her to tell me about a few of her favorite apps. When she mentioned Word Lens, I didn’t believe her. Then she demonstrated and left Eliot and me speechless.

We travel a lot and this app can come in very handy. We can’t wait to try it on every foreign sentence we can’t decipher. You have to watch the video above to see a quick demo. Don’t miss it. You’ll want to translate everything.

When I Googled Word Lens, I was surprised to learn the app has been around for years. Google now owns it. The actual explanation is that it uses the built-in cameras on smartphones and similar devices to quickly scan and identify foreign text. It then translates and display the words in another language on the device’s display. The words are displayed in the original context on the original background, and the translation is performed in real-time without connection to the internet.”

This is so awesome. I never have to worry about trying to translate a menu or foreign language document again.


That’s Hanna

Google’s Back Story

As the years pass-by, my fascination with Google’s co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, grows deeper and deeper. Their search algorithm has changed the world. I must Google things 10 or more times a day.

I even stopped entering names and phone numbers of restaurants, retail stores, doctors, and movie houses into my contact list. I just look them up on Google. I find it easier than maintaining an address book. I am also able to spot pertinent information from time to time that I would not normally see.

In an unusual interview with Page and Brin, Vinod Khosla of Khosla Ventures, questions them about “What might have been” if they didn’t make certain decisions. What makes this fireside chat so interesting is that Khosla’s company, wanted to buy Google for less then $2 million not long after the company was born.

It is very interesting to examine the chain of events that led up to the Google as we know it today. The interview gives us great insight into how the tech business functions and why certain companies come out on top.

I watched this video several times because I wanted to savor every moment of it. Good life lessons are shared and it makes us wonder what the future has in store for all of us.

Smarty Pins

Photo by Mashable Composite Google.

Google has just introduced a new game that is perfect for our age group. Called Smarty Pins, the game is all about your knowledge of geography. Most of our contemporaries are pretty well versed, even if they haven’t travelled a lot.

I’m not playing this game, because on a speedy quiz like this, I go blank. Even though I have done extensive traveling over the last 12 years, I am sometimes hard pressed to pinpoint exactly where a certain city is located.

That is why we love the gift that my friends Ruth and Howard gave us a few years ago, a framed map of the world. The NY Times/National Geographic map which allows us to mark cities and countries visited with color coded pins. I can stare at the map for hours.

Smarty Pins uses Google Maps for its layout, locations, and zooming in and out features.

So many of you are beating me silly with Words With Friends, that I dare not take on any more challenges. I do, however, expect you to let us know how you like Smarty Pins.

Learn more about Smarty Pins here.



A Shift In Search

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I don’t remember trends changing so much, so fast, when I was young. Today, in the world of the Internet, you really can’t count on anything being dominant for too long. I was a little surprised to learn that Google, Yahoo, and Bing are getting some serious competition from smartphone apps. It is becoming increasingly popular to search for information on apps that focus on the specific interests you are investigating.. I am quickly learning that more and more of my friends are really becoming quite dependent on the apps they like. I guess it only makes sense that they would seek counsel from information sources they trust.

Tech Crunch, a tech site, recently noted that most of our research is being done on our smartphones as compared to desktops, To quote them “Google is all search for everything but can’t necessarily tell us in a click the best restaurant or what the price is on a coveted item. We use niche travel apps such as Kayak to look up travel info, Trulia to search for homes and local business search company Yelp to look up local businesses.”

Tech Crunch pointed out that a Nielsen consumer report says we’re “spending an average of 34 hours using the Internet on our mobile phones every month compared to 27 hours using the Internet on our desktop.”

There’s lots of interesting information on this. Click here to read more.

YouTube Continues To Evolve

YouTube is becoming much more user friendly. I always thought it was user friendly, but I guess its owner, Google, is determined to make it even more so. It wants YouTube to become as popular as television.

We already know that well-known personalities plus average people on-the-street have created their own channels with original content. Some of them, including Jerry Seinfeld and Joan Rivers, are getting a lot of notoriety,

Now, YouTube wants to make sure that everyone is completely up-to-date on all of its features. To keep its “creators” (that’s you) better informed, YouTube plans to release regular “Creator Preview” videos that cover all of the changes. Please watch the first video above.

A new Creative Preview app will also allow users to manage features on their mobile devices. That’s great news for people like me. I use my smartphone for everything. I barely touch my laptop or iPad.

The biggest news is that YouTube is going into the Crowdfunding business. Viewers will be allowed to contribute money directly to YouTube creators. That is going to be big competition for Kickstarter and Indiegogo. For example, if I wanted to start a YouTube show called “I love Lois,” I could raise money for the project right on my YouTube page. Everything contained in one spot.

That is pretty amazing. I predict that YouTube is going to change the entire world of entertainment now that it is giving users many more tools to create , get exposure, and attract supporters.

I hope many more people my age take advantage of what YouTube has to offer. Now is the time to finally express yourself.

To Google, Or Not To Google



The Good News: Google will be selling Google Glasses for one day only on Tuesday, April 15th at 6am West Coast time. If you have an extra $1,500, and you want to be among the first to own glasses with a built-in computer, then prepare to move fast. There is a limited supply. Make sure you don’t lose this link.

The Bad News: A number of people in and around Silicon Valley are reportedly being assaulted when wearing Google Classes. E Kyle Russell, a journalist with Business Insider, was one of the recent victims who had his Google Classes ripped from his face in San Francisco’s Mission District.

Several weeks ago I wrote about the social tensions in Silicon Valley and San Francisco. Companies like Google, Apple, and Yahoo, who pay many of their employees six figure numbers, are gentrifying the areas. The cost of houses, rents, food, transportation, and clothes have all jumped dramatically to accommodate those with money. The gap between the haves and have nots , is getting worse and worse.

Everyday there are demonstrations, marches, confrontations, and town meetings to resolve the situation. There is no quick answer to this situation, so be careful what you wear.

If you think I’m exaggerating, be sure to Google “Google.” You’ll see many stories on this topic.

Scary Being a Google Employee These Days


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For the last few years, Google employees were the envy of seniors like me who had careers in very traditional offices. We never heard of companies that offered the benefits that Google provided: three free meals a day from an international cafe, meditation areas, a game room, TV viewing spaces, ping pong, a never ending list of perks.

All that envy went out the window recently when we heard that anti-Google activists were out in force in the Bay Area to protest the way rich Silicon Valley tech companies like Google have displaced low- and middle-income workers. Since 2011, rents in many Silicon Valley neighborhoods have increased by 40 percent thanks to the kids from tech companies who can afford the fancy new condos and homes real estate developers are building for them.

Not everyone who lives in Northern California makes the same salaries as those at Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Oracle, and scores of other tech companies. Calling themselves the Counterforce, the protestors are also against what the government is doing with our personal data, surveillance, control, and automation.

Google was one of the first to be targeted because the company just rolled out a bunch of new luxury, Wi-Fi enabled buses to shuttle workers from San Francisco to Mountain View, headquarters of Google. Activists claim Google buses are picking up workers at city bus stops, disrupting the already busy public transportation vehicles.

A group of protestors even showed up at the Berkeley home of Google developer Anthony Levandowski, preventing him for 45 minutes from getting to work. He is the engineer who is developing the self-driving car. Protestors held signs that said “Google’s Future Stops Here.”

Whose future are the protestors going to try to stop next and in what city? This could escalate.

Google Contact Lens


I still feel that Google is one of the most remarkable companies ever. Our lives have changed drastically because of the algorithm the company created. There is nothing you can’t look up in five seconds. In fact, there are certain folks who enjoy being fast-draw researchers. If someone in a crowd brings up a topic or a name that needs clarification, they have to be the first to retrieve the Google explanation. Okay by me.

Google is busy working on many other innovations that are going to be game changers. The self-driving Google automobile and Google Glasses are two inventions that we know about. Just yesterday I learned of one that will help save lives.

Google is testing a prototype constant lens that will help people manage their diabetes. Google said that the contact lens would measure glucose in tears continuously using a wireless chip and miniaturized glucose sensor. That would be a major breakthrough compared to current random tests.

The company explained how it would work: a chip and sensor would be embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material. A pinhole in the lens would allow fluid from the surface of the eye to seep into the sensor.

The company admitted that the development of this product is still in its very early stages, but they have every reason to believe that it will come to full fruition in a few years.

They never cease to amaze.



Anne Wojcicki

In case you haven’t heard, there is some hot gossip in Silicon Valley. Anne Wojcicki, the newly estranged wife of Sergey Brin, founder of Google, has certainly had her fair share of challenges lately.

First she finds out that her husband of six years has been romantically involved with a Google product manager.

Then last week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered her genetic testing company, 23andMe, to immediately stop selling its main product, a $99 “Personal Genome Service.” The company has failed to show that the technology is supported by science.

Brin is currently worth $22.8 billion, according to Forbes. He holds nearly $21 billion worth of Google shares.

Technology Grows Up With Us


A few years ago, I was chatting with friends, who were around my age, about the day we all will not be able to drive anymore. The topic was really about whether we will be smart enough to know when to stop.

Too many older people keep driving even though they can’t see or hear. The other day I thought Eliot and I might have reached that point when our 25-year-old SEL Mercedes all of a sudden lost power when we were driving back home on the Sprain Brook Parkway in Westchester. We had just left a funeral of a dear friend, Irv Shaw, who had died at 99.

We feel the same kind of vulnerability over losing our faculties as when our dependable “wheels” suddenly died. Eliot keeps all our cars in the best of shape, so we were pretty upset to be stranded with cars whizzing by so closely. Two hours later, with the help of a roadside towing company, we were back in business.

We are city people. Automobiles are not part of our daily lives like most folks. Even though we own three cars, two in Miami, we take cabs everywhere. I envision that, some day, someone else will have to do the driving for us.

I just found out that Google has been thinking about the same thing. As we all know, the Internet giant has been working on self-driving cars for quite some time. Now, word has it that Google is thinking about a “robo-taxi” service, a self-driving car that would pick us up and drop us off at various destinations. Google said that, at first, “a human would need to be behind the wheel just in case, but that could easily change as the tech progresses and becomes more reliable.”

As I have said many times before, this is the best time to be in your golden years.