Alibaba’s Robot Warehouse

Here is a short video from Business Insider UK about Alibaba’s robotic warehouse.

Who is Alibaba?  According to Wikipedia:

With operations in over 200 countries and territories, Alibaba is the world’s largest retailer and e-commerce company, one of the largest Internet and AI companies, one of the biggest venture capital firms, and one of the biggest investment corporations in the world. The company hosts the largest B2B (Alibaba.com), C2C (Taobao), and B2C (Tmall) marketplaces in the world. Its online sales and profits surpassed all US retailers (including Walmart, Amazon and eBay) combined since 2015. It has been expanding into the media industry, with revenues rising by triple percentage points year on year.

The robots, which can lift up to 500 kg, pick up densely packed bins and bring them to human pickers who place the products in boxes for shipment to customers.  The robots are controlled over Wi-Fi.  They say that after the 60 robots were placed into service, throughput in the warehouse has been tripled and human labour reduced by 70%.

Amazon has been running a robotics challenge to try to eliminate the human pickers.  This is a video summarising the  2017 challenge in Nagoya, Japan.

Here is a video from the MIT team from the 2017 competition.

The Roaring Twenties are 314 days away.

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What’s your line?

No, this is not about a game show. This is about the thickness of your pen’s line. Do you like a fine line, medium, or bold? (I know someone will say pencils are the way to go but my response to that is. Lead poisoning.) Here in the Rising Sun place it seems 0.5 mm is quite common. I just bought some 0.28 mm ones so I could write some detailed Chinese characters. Mitsubishi Pencil Uni Style Fit ones for those keeping track.

Have any of you been to a Japanese stationery store? They have some wonderful stuff. Part of this is that Japan was such a handwriting culture. To write things in such detail they needed good paper with good pens and pencils. Recently there is a trend to make your own multi-color pen by buying the refills to put into a separately bought holder.

How many of you even write by hand anymore? Is everything on a PDA/phone now?

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Why do we put off what we “want” to do?

I find life interesting. That is why I like this site so much. I was on a call talking about ewe and about good wethers. There are few places that you can talk about animal “wifery” in between the politics. (Or is the word now animal “parentry”?)

Okay, I am putting off the subject that I really want to write about. I really want to write about it but the other thing seemed more interesting. And the main subject might require work. Can we talk about bellwethers for a while?

Back to life. We seem to live in two temporal worlds. We are in the now and the preparing for the future. Our wants conflict. What we want now is different than what we want in the future. That is a poor way to put it. Our wants now conflict with the wants in the future. For example if we want to be slim we can’t eat anything we want now. But people do and still say they want to be slim. Can one really be honest and say you want something while one is doing the opposite of the things to get it?

Getting to the title, it seems we like to put off things that are productive. We wait as if more time makes things better. Deadlines are our lifelines to get some things done. They force us often to do things we want to do but would rather put off. Good people know when they are saying I want X in the future means I give up Y in the present. They order their wants. Do you do this? How do you handle wants?

Hey, I am at the end of my post. That wasn’t too painful, was it?

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Mini Movie Review: Little Forest a Bright Spot in a Dark Winter

Movie recommendation: I’m watching a beautiful movie on Prime called Little Forest, cheering fare for dark winter evenings. A young woman returns to her rural roots, a Korean farming village, for reasons she can’t fully explain except that she was “hungry” after all the pre-packaged city food. In the gentle plot, she searches for her mother, reconnects with old friends, and cooks lots and lots of comfort food. We are treated to scenes of bubbling pots, steaming soups, and delicate vegetables sautéed at high heat. Much of the action in this movie consists of characters sitting down to eat the lovely concoctions, which is somehow very satisfying. As the cozy winter turns to spring and vivid summer, the viewer is served crisp, colorful scenes of local plant and animal life. All this combined with charming actors and script create a sumptuous work of art.

What delectable edibles have you discovered amongst the garbage of Netflix and Prime?

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Colors

I was making up some memory notes for my Chinese character review. I started out with a black ink pen and then thought this is two boring. It will put me to sleep. I then decided to get use some pens with different color ink that I have. It makes a world of difference.

Colors are such and aid to viewing things quickly and easily. They are processed fast in our brains. Just think of a traffic signal. Isn’t it great that we have a red, yellow, and green to give us the stop, caution, and go. It can be seen in a distance and understood. Words could be confused.

How often do you use color for sorting or making notes? If you do how do use the colors? Do you ever use different color post-its or paper? Have you ever thought of using colors in this way?

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Monday Meals: 2019-02-18

Sneaking Duck

Sneaking duck: Ingredients

Peking duck (北京烤鸭) is a classic mainstay of Chinese cuisine. It is often a special treat on the menu of Chinese restaurants, requiring diners to order in advance for serving to multiple people. There’s a reason for this: it’s a major production to prepare and serve. The classic recipe takes three days: the first to remove the neck bones and knot the neck, paint the skin with honey and soy sauce, and hang to dry; the second to blow up the skin like a balloon to separate from the meat then blanch in boiling water; and the third to roast the whole duck in a wood-fired oven. As I recall, I’ve only had properly prepared Peking Duck once in my life, when a bunch of programmers at the place I worked in the 1970s arranged a Chinese banquet at a restaurant in Berkeley, California, but long before and after that I’ve made this recipe or variants, which I find excellent, if not authentic, and a tiny fraction of the work. You can look at this as a special treat, but making it couldn’t be easier.

Continue reading “Monday Meals: 2019-02-18”

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How is this possible?

The Cuvier’s beaked whale spend on average two minutes at the surface between dives but can do the following.

From this article.

The new data showed the whales’ deepest dives extend more than 4,500 feet beneath the ocean surface. Deep dives can last two to three hours. The whales dive continuously, with deep dives followed by a few shorter dives, averaging 1,000 feet.

Now I consider that some serious holding of one’s breath. That is some serious pressure. How does not the water get into things? Is blubber really that good at dealing with pressure? Do they close their eyes?

H/T Instapundit.com

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Car Sharing in Japan

Sorry this is all in Japanese. I think even in Japanese one can follow the logic of the system. This is the way young people use cars now. The video has the car rental from about $2 an hour per 15 minutes. (Oops! I should have double check this.) There are 30 types of cars to choose from.

  1. Make a Reservation
  2. Pick up a car.
    1. Use a card to open the car door
    2. Get the car key from the glove box
  3. Go to a gas station or a car wash if needed. The gas or car wash is charged to the rental company.
  4. If you need to, you can extend your rental time by selecting extension on the car’s GPS system.
  5. Return the car.
  6. If you forget something in the car you can open the car’s door just one more time to get it out. (I guess they only allow for one forget.)
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Miracles Do Occur

In spite of my personal and likely short-sighted low opinion of poetry, I found a piece that resonated with me.  There’s hope for me, Hypatia?  What follows is a cut from an American Thinker blog post by Patricia McCarthy.

“Over at American Mirror, a commenter to a column by Kyle Olson about all this, Roy_Bean, cited a poem by Sir Walter Scott (1805) that perfectly describes people like Beto, Obama, Hillary Clinton, Schumer, Harry Reid , Nancy Pelosi, and the rest of the Left:

Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d,
As home his footsteps he hath turn’d,
From wandering on a foreign strand!
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no Minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud be his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentered all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonour’d, and unsung.

The poem is entitled “The Lay of the Last Minstrel.”  Has there ever been a more apt description of the recent past and current crop of Democrats in Congress?”

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Experiment: Second Life Artificial Meet-Up (SLAMU)

Second Life Artificial Meet-UpShortly after the Ratburger.org site was created on 2017-12-09, we signed up for and implemented a text chat system called CometChat on 2017-12-12.  This was nothing but bother, with update after update failing to install and the last straw being when, at the end of the first year’s trial period, they wanted us to pay US$ 50/month for a shoddy service which we’d never actually used.  I deleted the hunk of junk on 2018-09-30.

Still, it would be nice to be able to host real-time events, perhaps with more interaction than is possible on our existing Audio Meet-Ups.  For this, I have been exploring using a platform many consider passé, but technologically perfectly positioned to burgeon in the Roaring Twenties, Second Life.

Second Life is a virtual world which, as of the end of 2017, had between 800,000 and 900,000 active users.  When you visit it, you’ll typically find on the order of 40,000 people logged on.  In Second Life you can visit a multitude of interesting destinations built by denizens, buy or rent land, build your own Bond villain redoubt, and create new objects which you can sell to others within the virtual world.

My ambition for Second Life and Ratburger is very modest at present: I’m thinking about using it as a chat room and place for meet-ups which don’t run up phone charges for participants.  Assuming you’ve set up your computer properly, you can chat in text or converse in voice after meeting at a location in Second Life.

Some time in the next month, I’d like to schedule an experimental Second Life Artificial Meet-Up (SLAMU) at some time chosen to accommodate the crazy quilt of time zones of our members (probably the same time as the Tuesday RAMU, but on another day).  If you’d like to participate, here’s what you’ll have to do.

Create a new account on Second Life.  Click the “Join Free” button and fill out the form.  Note that your Username cannot be changed after you join, so in the interest of privacy, do not chose a Username which discloses personal information.  Choose an avatar of your preference; you can be anybody you like—use your imagination!

Download and install a viewer on your computer.  I prefer the Firestorm Viewer, which is available for Linux, Macintosh, and legacy Windows systems.  You will need a relatively recent computer with lots of RAM and a graphical processing unit (GPU) to run this software.  The official Second Life Viewer is an alternative, but is generally behind Firestorm in features and device compatibility.

Log in to Second Life from your viewer application.  You will generally be taken to a starting point for new users such as London City, which will let you explore things you can do in the virtual world.  It will take some time to become familiar with moving around, interacting with objects, etc.  From there, you can go to myriad other places.

If you want to use voice communication, visit the Voice Echo Canyon:

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Voice%20Echo%20Canyon/128/130/23

(This is a Second Life URL which will not work in your browser, but works in the Second Life destination bar.)  Try speaking (use the middle mouse button to toggle speaking off and on, or the microphone button at the bottom in Firestorm) and see if you can hear the echo.  If you don’t see a white dot above your head, audio is not enabled on your computer. If this happens and you’re on a Linux system, let me know in the comments and I’ll send you a fix which worked for me.

Visit some interesting places, such as the amazing International Spaceflight Museum:

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Spaceport%20Alpha/48/78/23

and see what people have built in this virtual world.

My user name is “Fourmilab” and my humble abode (and SLAMU clubhouse until we build something more imposing) is at:

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Cowell%20Farm/216/12/42

This year in cyberspace!

SLAMU: Ratburger clubhouse

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