As a parent of three technically savvy kids I find it disturbing that we haven’t even “scratched” the surface of Scratch, an amazing, object-oriented programming language from the MIT Media Lab’sLifelong Kindergarten Group. That may change, however, as it’s much easier to get started in Scratch thanks to a new release of the platform that lives entirely in the browser.
You can try the programming language here and the new version allows for webcam interaction with the on-screen sprites and you can now add vector-based graphics that will scale without losing resolution. You can also create your own programming “blocks” and add new logic to your programs or games.
The new interface is similar to the old, desktop-based system except it’s a bit simpler and you can store your programs on your computer and then upload them anywhere. A “backpack” will hold objects from one project to the next so you can bring sprites and backgrounds with you to new games. Everything runs smoothly right in the browser. You can see a Scratch-generated tour of 2.0 here or you can just start playing.
The platform is great for kids of all ages and it’s a far sight better than most early computer education which consists mostly of typing tutorials and Microsoft Office lessons. If you’re looking for a STEM star and not a cubicle drone, this is the platform for you.
Lars Rasmussen — one half of the dream team that led in the creation of Facebook’s new Graph Search and run its development — is leaving Menlo Park and setting up shop in Facebook’s office in London. Graph Search, or at least the engineering part that he oversees, is coming with him. I took the opportunity of a quick reconnaissance mission he made to the city this week to ask Rasmussen about why he’s coming to the UK, what is on the road map for Graph Search, internationally and otherwise, and what challenges lie ahead.
Graph Search has yet to launch in any other language other than English, and Facebook’s international user base is growing faster than its U.S. audience. But neither of these are the motivations for his move.
Rasmussen is coming for personal reasons: his girlfriend lives in Athens, and he’s tired of the commute from California to see her. So, because he has no intention of leaving Facebook, he’s decided to move as close as he can to Athens while continuing to work for the social network. And Graph Search, his baby, is coming with him.
How long does he intend to stay? “It’s a one-way ticket,” he told TechCrunch today. It’s also about coming full-circle. Years ago, Rasmussen studied for his PhD in Edinburgh, Scotland and only moved to California to follow his advisor when he migrated west. From there, Rasmussen ended up at Google, where he worked on Google Maps and Google Wave, before in 2010 leaving for Facebook.
For now, where Rasmussen goes, Graph Search engineering goes. So this week, he’s in town not only to find a place to live, but also to lay the groundwork to hire a new team of developers to work on Facebook’s new search efforts from here.
He says he’s put out an offer to the Menlo Park team for any of them to come join him in London. The rest will stay in California and keep working under Tom Stocky, the other Graph Search supremo. “So far no one has put their hand up high to move here but I’m pretty sure I’ve heard a hint or two that some folks are interested,” he said. Rasmussen is moving over permanently in August.
For a product that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg referred to as the company’s “third pillar” after News Feed and Timeline, Rasmussen’s move and what it will mean for Graph Search sound pretty freeform at the moment.
It’s not exactly clear what part of Graph Search’s development will end up with Rasmussen in London, and what will remain in Menlo Park, nor how the two teams will work together with thousands of miles between them. (Note: from personal experience, it’s possible.) It’s likely that all this will only get decided after they figure out what talent can be recruited — classic Facebook, as one person described it to me.
Rasmussen also says that he can’t say for sure whether Graph Search’s international push will definitely be a part of his work in London because taking it international will not be a quick task.
“When it comes to internationalizing graph search, we may do it here but we may do it elsewhere,” he said. “We’ll only do it when we feel the product is mature and makes sense. We’re still in the beta stages with a million or few million users. Graph Search is a long term investment we realize we have years of work ahead of us.”
He notes that although “internationalizing is the best path forward”, it will only come when the team has “hit the nail on the head with a good search product.”
“We are not talking weeks or a few months, though. It will take longer,” he added.
One of the big things with Graph Search, as engineer Xiao Li and research scientist Maxime Boucher point out in an essay published yesterday, is that it is built on a natural language interface. But that will pose a challenge when Graph Search goes to other languages.
“I hope that the model that we started creating for English will work roughly speaking for all of our markets, but it’s not something that we have looked too deeply at,” he said. “Graph Search has a natual langauge component, so it will be an extra challenge to internationalize it. It was a challenge we expected because we want to have people ask natural questions, but we realize that it means that it would be a challenge to make new languages. That’s a reason for the long delay.” He added that even though a minority of Faceboook’s users speak English it’s still the single language in which Facebook has the most users.
While Facebook has been pretty good at internationalizing its products, doing so with a product like Graph Search, based on users inputting search commands in their own words, is unchartered territory. Rasmussen said that Facebook may end up having to buy their way into it, as others like Google and Yahoo have been doing.
“It’s possibly an area where we wil have to acquire,” he said. “It is something we’ve invested in in general, but we haven’t quite built the tools out for this thing. So possibly, if the right startup and talent came along, this is definitely something that we would consider. We’ve had some very successful acquisitions of small startups that have brought tremendous talent to the company.”
As for hiring in London, Rasmussen’s looking forward to it and how it could impact Graph Search. “I think there is obviously lots of Euroepan talent speaking different languages so it might come in handy, but again it’s not the primary reason. We are doing research on Graph Search here on par with what Menlo Park is doing.”
Purveyor of the 4-hour workweek, Tim Ferriss, says that the one thing that stumped him time and time again was learning how to cook. By deconstructing what he knew about cooking, and then re-learning the steps, Ferriss found that he could apply these same ideals when it came to any difficult task. Whether it’s learning a new language, building an exhaustive project or just finding a better way to lose weight, maybe it’s time for us all to learn how to cook.
For more video greatness, click here and see the rest of the interviews from TNW Conference 2013.
Read the rest here: Tim Ferriss on how learning to cook can expand your abilities with other goals
Google’s CEO Larry Page revealed something during today’s earnings call that his company doesn’t seem to have actually spelled out before: Google Glass runs on Android. In response to a question about how much people can expect to see engagement increment with new products like Glass, he said that “obviously, Glass runs on Android, so [Android] has been pretty transportable across devices, and I think that will continue.”
Many have speculated that Google Glass would run on an Android-based OS, but to date, Google hasn’t come right out and said so. Recent reports suggested that it would be ore of a proprietary system separate from Android, but Page’s statement today seems to indicate that in fact it will at least be a version of Android.
And Android-based Glass, even if it’s a modified version of the original OS, is good news for developers, since it means they share at least a common language. That should make integration, at least between Glass and Android-powered smartphone apps easier. The comment about portability also strongly suggests that Android has the potential to power a range of devices in the future, including the smart watch it reportedly has in development.
We’ve contacted Google to find out more about the Glass OS and how closely related it is to Android for smartphones, and will update if we hear more.
Original post: Larry Page Says Google Glass Runs On Android
Google has announced Khmer, the official language of Cambodia, as the 66th language supported by Google Translate.
Google Translate now comes with its own Khmer virtual keyboard and support for phonetic text. The company said that adding the language had proved difficult because of a lack of Khmer resources on the Web and the fact that words aren’t usually separated by spaces.
The new language support follows on the addition of Lao as Google Translate’s 65th language last September.
Google promised that it continues to work on additional languages. If you’re language isn’t supported yet, the company recommends that you use it on publicly available websites and upload translations to its translator toolkit.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, Google says this is the Khmer translation for “The Next Web”: បណ្តាញនេះបន្ទាប់.
Image credit: iStockphoto
Read the original here: Google Translate gains support for its 66th language: Cambodia’s Khmer