Yearly Archives: 2013

Dec 29th 2013

Ginger CMO Dudu Noy Discusses CaaS in 2014

Dudu Noy is the CMO at Ginger Software. Ginger’s Grammar Checker and Sentence Rephraser are available as desktop software, browser add-ons and Android mobile keyboard. Readers of our Japanese site may recall that we featured the company’s Japan launch back in April.

Ginger CMO Dudu Noy

I predict that 2014 will be remembered as the year that CaaS, or “Cognition-as-a-Service” platforms came of age. Cognition is historically a complex biological trait including skills such as decision making, problem solving, learning, reasoning, working memory and not least language, skills that today the computer sciences are chipping away at from various angles.

With each major evolutionary step in computing we have seen over the last 30 years, from mainframes to PCs, the internet, cloud and SaaS, and now ubiquitous smart mobile, the new realm has not so much replaced but augmented what was there before.

In the same way the promise of CaaS is to allow apps and services to function more intelligently and intuitively, allowing you to converse with them, ask questions, give commands and complete tasks more efficiently and conveniently.

Apple’s Siri is one of the most famous cognition-based services in general use today. And now Google’s recent innovations to its search product for mobile, incorporating more contextual conversation for queries, pits it against Siri in the cognition-augmented search arena. In both cases, the technology itself is in the cloud, even though the device is in the user’s hand. Their main functions only work when there is an internet connection [1].

The reason is that the two necessary tricks to make sense of a user’s speech input – speech recognition and natural language processing (NLP) – require cloud-based servers performing intensive processing of proprietary algorithms that is beyond the capabilities of handheld technology.

When it comes to NLP it is the sheer diversity of languages that makes it such a challenge. Old school NLP solutions were based on rigid rules that map inputs to a big list of known inputs. But the list can never be long enough, and the hard rules can never cover all the edge cases. So the experience of talking to a supposedly “smart assistant” always left the user frustrated.

You need more powerful, agile technologies that can figure out that in a sentence such as: “Yuko wants to eat an apple.”

Yuko is something that can have wants, and can eat things, and that apples are things that can be eaten. The technology needs to be able to do this for the vast majority of sentences the app is likely to encounter. This is incredibly hard, but here at Ginger and a few other places, we are doing it.

It is not just Apple and Google who are eyeing this space. IBM is now also a player with Watson, recently announcing that the same supercomputer-strength software that conquered the quiz show “Jeopardy!”, will be available to app developers through an API and software toolkit. This will allow cognitive apps that leverage cognition to be hosted in the cloud on Watson. This would obviously be a great thing for IBM’s cloud hosting service as well.

This “platform model” in tech business is nothing new of course. In recent years IBM did this with its Websphere application server technology, which went from an internal project to a software community of thousands of developers. Salesforce.com did this with its Force cloud-app development platform, as did Amazon with Amazon Web Services.

But what is different with CaaS platforms is that cognitive powers will be baked in to the operating system, and all the apps that are developed on that platform. That will bring intelligence to a mass public in a wide variety of as yet unimagined contexts.

At Ginger we have not opened up our technology as a platform via an API yet, but we are providing the benefits of its cognitive powers to a mass user base globally. Our technology uses statistical algorithms in conjunction with natural language processing, referencing a vast database of trillions of English sentences that have been scoured from the web. This allows us to work out what the users of our applications are trying to communicate, be it in Microsoft Office apps, Gmail, Facebook or wherever, and correct their mistakes and suggest improvements to their expressions.

One thing is for sure – this is a really interesting space to work, and it will be fun to see where computer based cognition will go in 2014.

The article above was taken from thebridge.jp on 27.12.2014 in http://thebridge.jp/en/2013/12/cognition-as-a-service

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Dec 24th 2013

Design in Software Products, and Specifically Ginger

 

Traditionally, both high-tech and internet industries have built their products with a technical orientation. Engineering, product management and the never-ending quest to bring the next disruptive technology to market constituted the core focus of industry-leading companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and eBay.

However, the advent and proliferation of smart phones and mobile applications have forced even these tech giants to take a step back and reexamine their strategy. A recent article in the New York Times addressing a rise in demand for Silicon Valley designers, claims that “Design has become more important in software… because software has become more intimate. People use it all day in every face of their lives and on mobile devices, which require more thoughtful design because of the small screen”.

This is no news to Ginger. We take our user-experience very seriously as we focus on building a truly intimate product used 24/7 by people from all over the world. Our mission is not only to build useful products, but to make them with a powerful user-experience so that you enjoy using them. Of no less importance in a product like ours is finding a way to deliver those all-important corrections in a non-intrusive manner that keeps you focused on the task at hand – crafting a well-written message.

Finding that thin line between functionality, intuitiveness and beauty is no easy task, but at Ginger we rise to the challenge!

 

 

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Oct 28th 2013

Halloween Words

Trick or Treat – Halloween’s Just Around the Corner

For those of you who didn’t know, Halloween is just a few days away! Halloween is a particularly interesting holiday with activities that call for costume parties, trick-or-treating and jack-o’-lanterns. Say what? Yes, that’s right there are special words connected to this holiday that need some explanation for those of you who didn’t grow up with this tradition.

Halloween – This word is at least 250 years old, and is derived from a Scottish term, All Hallows’ Eve  which means “the evening before All Hallows’ Day”. All Hallows’ Eve took place the night after All Hallows’ Day. So how was such a long collection of words cut down to just one?  In the Scottish language, the word for “eve” is “even”. Over the years, even was contracted to een. So it’s not so hard to see how All was dropped as well as the letter “s” creating the new word Halloween.

Summary: Halloween means the evening before All Hallows Day.

Trick-or-Treating – This custom has children dressed up in costumes going from house to house to ask for candy. In most cases, the simple question “Trick or treat?” will be awarded with a handful of sweet goodies. Now you’re probably asking yourself how such a silly phrase has become perhaps the most highly anticipated question for kids all over the world… Basically it’s a (hopefully idle) threat implying that if there are no treats, some sort of mischief happen.

Summary: Trick or Treat means give me some candy or I’ll play a trick on you!

Jack-O-Lantern – A Jack-O-Lantern is a form of decoration used on Halloween. It is often placed on the steps leading to a door or outside on a porch. A Jack-O-Lantern is made by carving a face onto the surface of a pumpkin (or turnip or beet in some places). The insides of the pumpkin are usually scooped out and some sort of a light (usually a candle or electric light) is placed inside to create a flickering light effect at night.

Summary: If you see a scary face flickering light towards you on Halloween, don’t panic it’s probably just a Jack-O-Lantern.

Make sure your writing is perfect with Ginger Software.

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Oct 17th 2013

Why you need good English to make it as a journalist

Are you thinking of becoming a journalist? One of the most indispensable tools for journalists is knowledge of other languages so you can access all sorts of information from around the world.

However, in today’s world, the international language is English and most prominent journalists have at least some knowledge of English. If you want to distinguish yourself from the pack then you should make an effort to learn English. Let’s take a closer look at why English is an essential tool for any journalist.

English: The International Language

Languages connect people, and English will connect you to a wealth of information, whether it’s news, entertainment, and politics in the English-speaking world. Major organizations like the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund also publish works in English. Being able to access and understand these forces at play in our world will allow you to add depth and richness to your stories.

Furthermore, if you want to travel and produce work in the English-speaking world then you will absolutely need to speak English. Not only will you need to be able to understand your sources, but you will also need to make contacts and get around.

Ways to Learn English

Aside from taking a class, there are many ways you can learn and practice English. One way is to arrange to spend a few months in an English-speaking country taking a class and immersing yourself in English. Another way is to download apps for android mobile phones (where you are most likely to find a greater variety than those made for the iPhone) so you can access vocabulary and grammar lessons. There are also apps out there to help you with grammar check, proofreading and spell check.

Nevertheless, learning English will give you a definite edge in your journalism career. Even just a working knowledge will set you ahead of the pack!

Helene Leroux is an aspiring journalist from Paris, France.

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Oct 10th 2013

The Case for Learning English

 

English is without a doubt, the international language of the 21st century. Originally spread throughout the world by British colonialism, the rise of English was solidified with America’s ascension as the world’s predominant superpower.

There are many other examples of  nation states whose rise on the global stage spearhead the introduction of their language as an international standard (French, Latin, Greek to name just a few). However the use of these languages quickly rose, and then fell, as fast changing world politics upended the status of the nation which introduced the latest “Lingua Franca”.

The reason that English is here to stay is that it is the language of the internet – the first text to go online was in English and to this day the overwhelming majority of website domains, email addresses and content is in English.  The internet is perhaps the single greatest catalyst of change in the last 100 years, transforming the world in ways that we cannot even begin to imagine . And it’s all happening in English.

Considering the above, it’s no wonder that English is the most widely learned language in the world. International success in almost every sphere is hinged foremost on one’s ability to write, and speak, well in English. While not necessarily a requirement, the ability to write and speak at the level of a native provides a huge advantage over those who learned English as a second language.

With Ginger’s suite of language enhancement products, even non-native speakers of English can easily create well-written English text. Learn more on our website.

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Sep 29th 2013

Sentence Rephraser for Android Mobile Devices Now Available

As you may or may not know, we released Ginger Sentence Rephraser for Android mobile devices recently. The news was widely distributed in the media, some of the more prominent pickups included:

GigaOm
TechCrunch
CNN Money

The big splash this new tool made is no small feat. It really changes the way you can use your Android to type. Sentence Rephraser analyzes text sentence by sentence to identify more linguistically stylized, enhanced ways of getting the original message across. Enhancement here means that Sentence Rephraser adds synonyms, idioms and missing words to enrich the text, therby adding more depth to the original message and optimizing communication. Sentence Rephraser leverages Ginger’s NLP platform, which is based on a corpus of more than 1.5 trillion sentences from the web, to identify phrases that have similar context to that of the user’s original text. It then presents the most prevalent phrases to the user as options for rewriting the text.

Obviously non-native English speakers will love the ability to write like a native, using local idioms and phrases. But we are confident that even native English speakers who want to quickly write their messages using abbreviations will find value with a tool that transforms “plz” to “please” with a tap on the keyboard.

Download Ginger Keyboard (free) from Google Play store.

Read the PR here.

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Sep 22nd 2013

The Importance of the Cover Letter

Getting the job of your dreams requires that you have the right education, the right experience and the right recommendations. All of this critical information needs to be neatly presented in your CV so that recruiters can quickly understand that you are potentially their dream candidate and call you in for an interview. However, there are many candidates with education, experience and CVs that are similar to yours, so you have to stand out! Your best chance to show off your advantages over the competition is your cover letter.

What is a Cover Letter?

Cover letters are freehand text documents that are sent to potential employers along with a job seeker’s resume. Cover letters for resumes are in essence, essays about yourself and your career.  Good cover letters sample the candidate’s specific skills and experience as they relate to a desired position. In fact, serious job seekers rewrite their cover letter to suit each particular job they are applying for. One good practice is to create a cover letter template which can be tweaked to suit different jobs.

Cover Letter Rules to Remember

  1. Always make sure your cover letter addresses the requirements detailed in the job posting.
  2. Always remember to thank your readers for their time and to provide your email address and phone number. 
  3. Never send out your cover letter without first checking it for spelling and grammar errors with Ginger’s Grammar Checker. You can also use the Sentence Rephraser to find more professional, sophisticated ways to write your text.
 Sample Cover Letter

A good cover letter starts by greeting the hiring manager.

The next step is writing the body of the cover letter. In the body you should try to immediately associate yourself with the desired position by stating who you are, what you do an what job you’re applying for. The rest of the cover letter body should tailor your qualifications and experience to the requirements listed in the job posting. A short message about why you are personally drawn to the company or company industry would also be appropriate here.

In the last paragraph of the cover letter you should discuss the next steps.

Cover Letter Examples

Cover letter examples can be found all over the internet. One good source is About.com.

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Sep 9th 2013

Back to School – Time to Write an Essay!

 

That’s it the vacation is over!

Now that September is officially here, we have to face the ugly truth  — the summer has almost ended and it’s about time to go back to school! Of course there’s a lot more to going back to school than actually getting out of bed on a predetermined day and finding a place to sit (hopefully as far away from the teacher as possible). By now you’ve probably bought new school clothes, caught up on all the gossip and let’s not forget, finished all of those annoying projects they gave you to work on over the break. The worst of these pesky projects is, without a doubt, the dreaded “What I did over my summer vacation” sample essay.

The perfect student essay – Or how I became a smarter/deeper/funnier person

You should see this academic essay as your very best chance to make a good impression on your teacher. This is it, the ultimate self-promotional tool that, if used wisely, could get you on your teacher’s good side for the whole year. My advice to you here is to go Hollywood! Like a good movie script, show how your character (you)  developed over the summer to become a better person.

Use proper essay structure 

 First things first – Like all things of essence and quality, a well-written essay requires the use of a formulated essay structure.  That’s right I’m talking intro, main body and conclusion — your 1-2-3 knockout combination! Use your intro to describe your frustrations/fears going into the summer vacation.

I came I saw I overcame – People (and when I say people I mean teachers) love a good “against all odds” story. Try to work up the sympathy by describing how bored you thought you would be, or how bummed you were that you had to get a summer job. Surprise and delight the reader  by showing how eventually you learned  to use the time to your advantage (by advantage I mean how you read books, did homework and engaged in otherwise uncool behavior).

Close it down gently - Now that you’ve got your audience eating out of the palm of your hand, you need to wrap your essay writing efforts. This is the place where you “realize” that you had it all wrong from the get-go, that you “grew” as a person. Maybe you helped someone along the way by showing them that reading/helping the elderly/doing chores is a great way to spend your time. Another option might be to show how you were able to outwit the neighborhood bully with the knowledge you acquired while doing your summer reading.

Last but not least – Essay review for student essay writing!

A minute before you start casting your blockbuster student essay, let’s slow things down and take it for an essay review. Use Ginger’s Grammar Checker to make sure that your spelling and grammar is beyond reproach and then try out the Sentence Rephraser to give your academic essay a bit of that Hollywood sparkle!

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Sep 1st 2013

Importance of English in the Business World

 

Success in business is often hinged on one single important word – communication; and most of it happens in English.

The world is flat; the economic migrations of the past decades have become permanent expat communities. Asians, especially, continue to migrate to the United States or to Europe for jobs and live there permanently. Even for those involved in business from their native countries, if they want to sell to a larger market, need to understand the trends and the cultures of those markets. This is often best done through the common currency that is English. Love it or hate it, we simply can’t ignore it. Big businesses call the shots, so if in Germany you do as the Germans do, in the common world market, learn English.

In order to get ahead in your chosen field you need to make yourself completely understood by the people you work with. There will be emails; there will be telephone conversations, and they are costly! Knowing good English helps you to make your point faster. If you have a website that the whole world can see, you had better have content that is meaningful and accurate and does not embarrass you or harm your business.

Even within Indian companies, especially large corporations, the number of employees is too huge for personal, one-on-one communication. Hence the intranet is the notice board and all communications are made through it. Imagine a secretary who didn’t know grammar and punctuation sent out a company wide email – “meeting cancelled because of indisposed”.  Because of whom? Because of indisposed? Is indisposed the name of a person? Another Indian might scoff and laugh at the very poor grammar, or might even get the gist of it, but what about the impression you make on, say, foreign collaborators who receive the same email? And even if we ignore the impression we make, what about the issues that arise from miscommunication? People just don’t know what you mean. Written communication is as important as verbal.

Engineers typically are nonchalant about their lack of language skills, saying that they understand their core subjects and that’s enough.  I would say that it is not enough to understand the concepts through insight or genius, you need to communicate that you know. Think interviews and group discussions for job-seekers! You cannot do this without proficiency in a language.

And what about presentations? You might have the most brilliant idea in the world, but if you do not know how to get it across, you are lost. I have seen scores of presentations made by students who are too stumped or lazy to formulate simple, brief and attractive sentences in English, which are the backbone of any good presentations. What they do is to simply type into Google, move into relevant or sometimes irrelevant sites, copy a large section of content and simply paste it into their power point slides, without a thought as to how readable or attractive it might be. A little education here (either training through company intranets, or an on-line course, or some self motivated self-education) can go a long way. The employee will not only use better grammar and vocabulary, but will also use logical chunking and sizing of the content, so he only puts as much on a slide as is easy to read and understand. One point per slide, with an example if it is there – this is a good rule. Anything more is actually taking away from your content.

This guest blog was written by Ramya Raju, an English professional working out of London. Check out his website: http://www.englishcourses.pro

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Aug 27th 2013

11 Untranslatable Words From Other Cultures

The relationship between words and their meaning is a fascinating one, and linguists have spent countless years deconstructing it, taking it apart letter by letter, and trying to figure out why there are so many feelings and ideas that we cannot even put words to, and that our languages cannot identify.

The idea that words cannot always say everything has been written about extensively – as Friedrich Nietzsche said:

Words are but symbols for the relations of things to one another and to us; nowhere do they touch upon the absolute truth.

No doubt the best book we’ve read that covers the subject is ‘Through The Language Glass‘ by Guy Deutscher, which goes a long way to explaining and understanding these loopholes – the gaps which mean there are leftover words without translations, and concepts that cannot be properly explained across cultures.

Somehow narrowing it down to just a handful, we’ve illustrated 11 of these wonderful, untranslatable, if slightly elusive, words. We will definitely be trying to incorporate a few of them into our everyday conversations, and hope that you enjoy recognizing a feeling or two of your own among them.

Visit Maptia for more interesting posts.

1.  German: Waldeinsamkeit

A feeling of solitude, being alone in the woods and a connection to nature. Ralph Waldo Emerson even wrote a whole poem about it.

2. Italian: Culaccino

The mark left on a table by a cold glass. Who knew condensation could sound so poetic.

3. Inuit: Iktsuarpok


The feeling of anticipation that leads you to go outside and check if anyone is coming, and probably also indicates an element of impatience.

4. Japanese: Komorebi

This is the word the Japanese have for when sunlight filters through the trees – the interplay between the light and the leaves.

5. Russian: Pochemuchka

Someone who asks a lot of questions. In fact, probably too many questions. We all know a few of these.

6. Spanish: Sobremesa


Spaniards tend to be a sociable bunch, and this word describes the period of time after a meal when you have food-induced conversations with the people you have shared the meal with.

7. Indonesian: Jayus

Their slang for someone who tells a joke so badly, that is so unfunny you cannot help but laugh out loud.

8. Hawaiian: Pana Poʻo


You know when you forget where you’ve put the keys, and you scratch your head because it somehow seems to help you remember? This is the word for it.

9. French: Dépaysement

The feeling that comes from not being in one’s home country – of being a foreigner, or an immigrant, of being somewhat displaced from your origin.

10. Urdu: Goya

Urdu is the national language of Pakistan, but is also an official language in 5 of the Indian states. This particular Urdu word conveys a contemplative ‘as-if’ that nonetheless feels like reality, and describes the suspension of disbelief that can occur, often through good storytelling.

11. Swedish: Mangata


The word for the glimmering, roadlike reflection that the moon creates on water.

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