You can now also join the special head voices telegram group to stay up to date with this blog!

As an alternative to the email list, I have just setup a telegram group which you could join if you’d like to be kept up to date with posts from this blog via instant messenger!

If all goes according to plan, a notification should be sent to the group automatically whenever I publish a post over here.

Logo image courtesy of

P.S. I first did this with IFTTT’s Telegram applet, but its post preview was pretty bad. TheFeedReaderBot seems to do a much better job!

The Apple TV 4 Remote, nickname “Achilles”!

It turns out that when you, or one of your offspring, accidentally drop an Apple TV 4 remote from about a metre, the lovely touch surface shatters almost exactly like the screen of a smartphone:

Unfortunately, you now have to purchase a new remote, which over here is going to cost more than half of what the whole Apple TV unit, including remote, cost initially.

Samsung Gear Fit 2 voice guide at intervals not working at all: The Fix.

Update 2017-05-02: As reported by Kjetil in the comments, if you update the Health apps in the GEAR category of Galaxy Apps, this should fix the problem without having to change your phone’s language. I’m keeping the rest of the post here as a record of events.

This is a really short note to help other people trying to get their broken Samsung Gear Fit 2 voice “guide at intervals” to work.

In short, by activating the “guide at intervals” function on the Gear Fit 2, you can get a synthesised voice to give you all kinds of stats while you are running with bluetooth earphones. In my case, I set it up to give me distance, pacing and heart rate information every 0.5 km. This helps me to control my pace and extend my run.

After a recent phone swap, my Gear Fit 2 stopped giving me any kind of voice guidance. The music would continue playing, but at the first 0.5 km point when the voice guidance should have piped up, the watch would jump back to the watch face, instead of staying in the exercise app.

As seems to be par for the course with the Gear Fit 2, this was highly frustrating behaviour, with no help from the phone user interface or any of the Samsung documentation.

After some to-and-fro on the Samsung forums, Dutch user BarryNL came up with the answer.

It turns out that if the phone language is set to anything other than “English (US)”, the voice guidance seems to crash the running app, dumping you at the watch face during your run.

I switched my phone from “English (South African)” to “English (US)”, rebooted the phone, then rebooted the Gear Fit 2, and finally went out for a quick test walk.

Samsung Gear Fit 2 voice guide at intervals was back!

I am really happy to have this core feature back, and to have the exercise app stay active until the end of my run. However, this undocumented behaviour, as well as the fact that the watch, which has more than enough processing power and a beautiful display, does not give any kind of feedback to help the user correct the issue, makes for an extremely frustrating experience.

Google’s 0-shot neural machine translation system shows intriguing evidence of an interlingua

In recent research (full paper also available), researchers from the Google Brain and Google Translate teams have shown intriguing evidence of a so-called interlingua, that is, a language-agnostic common representation of sentences with the same meaning from different languages.

What I also found interesting about this work (and related to the above finding), is that they’re able to perform translations between language pairs that the system has never trained on.

A further pleasant surprise was seeing how they used the t-SNE visualization technique to embed the high-dimensionally represented sentences in 2D, in order to study the interlingua phenomenon.

Samsung’s 960 Pro M.2 NVME SSD is lightning fast in synthetic benchmarks, not so much in real-world.

Samsung’s 960 Pro M.2 NVME SSD is lust-worthy:

Two Samsung 960 Pro M.2 NVME SSDs. Photo by Edward Chester at Ars Technica.

In Ars Technica’s benchmarks, the 512 GB model clocked in at over 3500 megabytes per second sequential read and 2000 megabytes per second sequential write. Those are jaw-dropping performance numbers.

What I find really interesting however, is that the 960 Pro does not perform much better than the previous generation 850 Pro SATA SSD in PCMark 7 and 8 real-world benchmarks. (Random IOPS performance of the drive is also really good.)

The implication is that most normal users will not subjectively experience much difference in speed between the 960 Pro and the older, much cheaper, model.

Does this mean that we have reached some sort of theoretical limit where increases in drive speed simply do not impact normal computing activities anymore (some sort of performance plateau), or are there changes conceivable to the rest of our hardware and software to increase the effect of drive speedups?