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Archive for the ‘The Internets’ Category

Magnuhfeek

While contemplating how a cheap reproduction of Le Chef d’Oeuvre Ou les Myste`res de l’Horizon might look in my living room, I decided I’d like to know how to pronounce the name correctly. After a few minutes of searching, I came upon a great online demo of a program that allows the user to type in text, choose an appropriate voice based on the text’s language, and hear a pretty natural sounding voice recite the text.  In the languages with which I am familiar, it does a remarkable job of reproducing the cadence and flow of fluent speech.

I wish I had known about it during my internship.

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Off The Grid

After spending five days in Munich without bothering to surf the web at all, I returned home yesterday to discover that Rostock University thought my internet reprieve should be made rather more permanent. My self-esteem is draining slowly, for each time I attempt to connect a message appears stating that something I did could not be authenticated, which is just computer-speak for telling me that I’m a big phony. It is in fact uncannily accurate in this respect, however, as I’ve been using my roommate’s log-on information for the past four months since the University never saw fit to provide me with my own.

I leave on Thursday, so the problem can’t help but disappear by then, but there are many things between now and then I’d rather not have to do on someone else’s computer–like blogging, for instance.

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A few weeks ago I wrote about my favorite blog and one of its authors, an economist by the name of Tyler Cowen. A few days ago, I realized that Prof. Cowen has a Facebook profile and I immediately sent him a friend request. To my delight, he quickly accepted. When I saw that his wall was not flush with new messages on a daily basis, I decided it would be worth writing on his wall to see if he might respond.

So, knowing that that he spent a year living in Germany and that his friends describe him as a cultural Germanophile, I decided to ask Prof. Cowen for any advice, “culinary or otherwise,” for someone working and studying in Germany for a year. Within a few hours, I had a post on my wall advising me to “eat lots of bread, figure out what are the local specialties, eat game, cheeses, sausage” and also asking me where I was going.

I have no qualms admitting the giddiness I felt upon checking my e-mail and seeing that “Tyler Cowen has written on your wall,” and that he furthermore had actually asked me a question in his response. Cowen is acutely aware of the scarcity of time (and thus its value), so I am especially flattered that he would spend a few minutes of his chatting with me–the opportunity cost he incurred is certainly higher than mine.

But of course I must also give credit to the internets, that amazing series of tubes which allows the wide dissemination of knowledge and easier contact with the better minds among us.

Update: Immediately after I wrote this post, I responded to Prof. Cowen that I was in Cologne for two months and then in Rostock. Three minutes later he had responded by advising me to have the “Schlachtplatte in Koeln, und dann Forelle in Rostock.” How cool is that!?!

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