Just what language is this, anyway?

When something goes awry in Google Translate.

When you go to a website in the Faroe Islands, it’s not in English, and something goes awry in Google Translate. Here’s a sample:

Since it was web-domain and tech-related, I’m fairly sure this is NOT the correct translation, though I enjoyed imagining how “fee slag” and “move the ecstasy” could be played with in English… 🙂

Anyway, since I believe Denmark “owns” the Faroe Islands, and the language looked like Danish to my eyes (after working with Danes for 20+ years), I copied and pasted, and stared at the strange results. Unable to decipher it properly, Google Translate (aka “GT”) led me on a merry chase, a loony loop of languages, yielding only a few recognizable English words and phrases, after toggling feverishly from “auto-detect” and manual language selection!

Much to my amazement and amusement, the translator struggled with phrases, and identified individual words as coming from one of five languages, NOT including Danish, as follows:

  • Afrikaans
  • Greek
  • Icelandic
  • Norwegian
  • Welsh

Icelandic and Norwegian made some sense as both Nordic languages, and related to Danish, though some Icelanders and Norwegians I know might take affront to my saying that. Afrikaans? That’s a bit of a stretch—in both distance (in miles/km), and language structure—not even Dutch, which is geographically nearer! Greek or Welsh? Those two made me LOL, though we all know the UK and its environs were overrun by Vikings long ago, mostly Danish and Norwegian, including Wales. Did the Vikings make it to Greece? I don’t think so…

Finally, I was able to cobble together enough fragments of English words and phrases, filtered through the website’s purpose, and a wee bit of contextual guessing, I was able to navigate and do what I had gone there to do.

Here’s what I THOUGHT some of the column heading words meant, by their position and context on the site:

Their Word in Whatever My Guess in English Explanations…
Økisnavn Web Name (domain name) GT had no idea—I knew “navn” meant “name” from context, and it looks a little like “name” if you stare at it…
Skrásetari Registrar GT thought it was Registrar too! (from Icelandic)
Lokadagur End Date GT said “the final date” and “dag” looks like “day” or “date” from a Nordic language…
Eginleikar Attributes or Settings GT had no clue, but identified it as Icelandic nonetheless, then asked if I meant “Eiginleikar” in Icelandic, which it said was “Properties” and that made sense…
Bólkur No idea… GT had no clue, no idea either…
Rætta Manage or Edit GT said it was Icelandic, and it meant “roots” or maybe “the foot” or “discussed” ???
Vis View GT said it was English at first! LOL But Wikipedia said it was a possessive form of a neologistic gender-neutral pronoun in English (whatever that is!), a Croatian island, a river in France, a Bulgarian village, and/or a Dutch surname. From “vis-à-vis” we know that “vis” is from the French-Latin for “face” as well. However, when I manually set the language in GT to Danish, it gave me the word I’d guessed (because it made sense contextually) as “View” and I was happy at last…

Finally, I tried this phrase, “Dagfør gjaldsupplýsingar” which I guessed meant “Update or Enter Payment Information” — GT came back with, “Submit Fee Information” IN DANISH — see, I was right all along!

Languages, and translations are fun! Especially when you haven’t a clue, and only have Google Translate as your assistant…

In closing, all I can say is, “Fee slag—move the ecstasy!” 😊

–Russ Murray–

Impossibility and Risk

Regarding a working definition of “impossible” and “risk”

impossibility and risk - technology - business decisionsIn discussing a difficult, pending project, with many real and imagined obstacles, via email (an imperfect tool) with a partner and colleague. Business and product names have been [obscured] in the text below, to protect the [innocent] and/or [neurotic].  🙂

<I wrote> As the French writer Andre Maurois said, “the world progresses thanks to impossible things, which have been accomplished!”  I suppose this is my approach to life and business and [software name], but of course we have to be clear about what can and cannot be done, on the difficult schedule requested of us…

<He wrote> I like your approach. But to attempt the impossible is to take risk, and when you speak “software system” with  a model agency manager, well…risk is not appropriate. Are we here to attempt the impossible ? It can be dangerous (I like to philosophize at 1am 🙂

<I wrote> Regarding impossibility and risk…  I was joking, having a little fun, by sending that great quote, which I believe in, but would NOT want to live my whole life by!  The word “impossible” in this context really means, “has not been done before” or “has not yet been imagined or attempted”.  Of course, some things may be truly impossible, but as time goes by, technology and knowledge change, revealing new possibilities, and enabling new ways to do things which were previously impossible.  So it is fluid in definition, and possibility, over time.

Impossibility and Risk - definitions and go or no-go decisions<I continued…> To apply these ideas practically and appropriately to our business, I would say that we must SOMETIMES attempt things that at first appear impossible, but are really just very difficult, requiring great effort.  There is risk in this, and I have said before “nothing ventured (risked), nothing gained” but I would NOT want to live or work completely at or in risk, always attempting the impossible – we would all have heart attacks!!

<I rambled onward…> Risk = danger, and to undertake something risky requires caution, clarity and cleverness, with complete confidence in your abilities and knowledge, to find a solution and succeed.  But the risk of attempting the impossible, or very difficult and stressful, is sometimes appropriate, and necessary.  For the right strategic opportunity, we may decide to abandon the safety of our risk-free box, and work outside it…  [Client name] was such an opportunity, as it was presented to us suddenly, imperfectly, and seemingly impossible!  We did a VERY good job in attempting the impossible, enough to impress the client, so that now we can have the opportunity to do it properly on a more normal/reasonable schedule. Truly, if we had not attempted to do the risky/impossible task, we would not have the opportunity to do the big/proper one that is coming.  We passed the “test” and won their confidence – they know we are responsive and capable now….

So, now you know my views on “impossibility and risk”, at least in the related realms of business, software, and consulting (where I make my living).  Sadly, my colleague on the receiving end of this diatribe, on the aforementioned subject did NOT share my views, even after this eloquent and heartfelt email exchange. Not even the exquisitely apropos quote from the French (my colleague’s home language) writer was enough to sway him, and change his mind.

However, finally, ultimately, I DID accomplish my objective, and my colleague agreed to move forward with my idea and approach to the complex project we contemplated. How did I change his mind?  I didn’t.  But I DID overwhelm him with the passion, eloquence and tenacity of my arguments, so that it seemed to him there was no alternative but to go forward as I demanded (strongly suggested). Oh, and the project turned out to be a huge success, just as I knew (believed) it would!

I believe this is a common thing in business and life. That one person arguing to attempt the impossible – in spite of the obvious risks – may effectively “win the argument” without actually convincing, or changing the mind of, the other person.  Thus, the impossible may be undertaken, and becomes possible, because at least one person – alone, or part of a team – believes fiercely that it was possible all along.

This is something powerful and empowering to contemplate, as you consider undertaking your next impossible, risky task or project.  Or better yet, don’t think about it at all – just believe it to be possible – and make it so!!

Good luck with undertaking your next impossible (risky) task. 🙂

 – Russ Murray –

Books are Friends that Never Leave…

Taking in strays?  Books?  Looking around you, suddenly, you realize you’ve been taking in and collecting stray books, filling your shelves, boxes, corners, attics, nooks, and crannies…only to find yourself overwhelmed!  Collecting books can easily go from an interest, to an addiction, especially if you were raised in a house full of books (as I was), where language was loved, and words (the correct ones of course!) were more important than any thing else…

And this taking in of strays, and collecting books still goes on, despite the rise of Internet publishing, social media and e-Books!  In fact, it may be that the internet and e-Book revolution has put even MORE stray books on the street, as people eschew their bookish lifestyles, give up all or most of their collections for adoption by libraries (already overwhelmed by taking in too many strays!) , and even leave their books in unmarked brown paper bags in the trash or on the stoops and porches of those who may still love and collect stray books…

In the spirit of word-worship, ink-on-paper-loving, and book-collecting-to-the-point-of-being-a-fetish, I found this “Stray Books” cartoon by Grant Snider of Incidental Comics posted on Mashable.com, and had to re-post it with comments, and share it with you…


Direct link to the Mashable article/post: http://mashable.com/2013/04/02/stray-books-comic/

So…be careful of taking in too many strays!  See you at the library?  🙂

 – Russ Murray

Our Future Will Be Brighter Than You Think, but…

There’s always a “but” isn’t there?  But…in this case, it’s not a terrible “BUT”, but rather it’s more of a clarification and refinement of what is being predicted for our future… Predicted by whom, you ask?  And who dares to predict a brighter future, despite all evidence to the contrary?

a bright future - sunset - russ murray - remages

Well, this time I am “news-jacking” and commenting about a recent article posted on www.LinkedIn.com, written by noted thinker and writer Vivek Wadwha.  The headline of the article/post finishes by stating, “…but more Disruptive.”   A brighter, but more disruptive future is ahead?  Sounds like a future I can live with! Tell me more, so I can prepare for the disruptiveness! Click here for the full article post on LinkedIn…

The LinkedIn/Vivek Wadhwa article was posted a week after another, similarly disruptive, positive, solution-oriented, glimpse-of-a-possible-brighter-future video post I saw on www.Mashable.com, which presented and commented on a stunning, fantastic, upsetting-and-re-setting-the-applecart type of talk (video on TED) given by noted scientist (climatologist) Allan Savory.  In that one, a brilliant, but chagrined, Mr. Savory offers up a 180-degree reversal of his own, previous scientific views, to offer up a solution to reverse climate change, halt and even reverse desertification of our planet, restore agriculture, and promote healthy livestock roaming in herds again–all by mimicking nature–a disruptive view indeed!!  Click here for the full article post on Mashable… TED-Allan-Savory-Vid-Screenshot

Click the video screenshot above, or here, to go directly to the video on TED…

My thinking, feeling, and purpose in posting about these predictions about our future is simple – I am a lifelong, dedicated, sworn optimist (ask any of my friends and colleagues!), but in recent years have struggled to come up with my own, believable prediction of a bright future.  From the slings and arrows of life’s realities (yes, I’m mixing metaphors!), including the steep, undeniable increase in devastating, climate-related, natural disasters over the past decade, it is no longer possible to blindly believe in a bright future.  From time-to-time, hope needs a little re-fueling by reality, tangible proof, and possibilities!

These two separate posts (articles, videos, etc.), and the clever people behind them, present viable, positive views of our future on this planet–based on hard facts, and great ideas being already implemented–worthy of our attention, and even HOPE for our future!!  I was in need of some good news and possibilities, to re-fuel my hope and optimism…done!  I am re-fueled…  Maybe you could use a little of the same, reality-based hope and optimism, and if so, click the links, read, view and be hopeful!

To pull it all together…I want to point out that there is ONE underlying theme in both article/posts–something in which I believe 100%–that NEW, DIVERGENT, DISRUPTIVE thinking is what will allow us to envision, create and build a bright future.  Disruptive thinking IS GOING ON RIGHT NOW; it is good, and real, and it is replenishing my supply of hope and optimism.  As Vivek Wadhwa (and others) have said, the rate of discovery and advances in science/technology is accelerating, and will continue to do so.  If this were not true, we could not hope for, contemplate, or create a brighter future! Luckily, fortunately, the old adage, “necessity is the mother of invention” is being proven once again–brilliantly!!!  It is the primordial, archetypal, human “survival instinct” re-packaged, and re-purposed, with almost daily updates, new discoveries, new ways to look at old problems and newer ones too, while preparing for the problems we do not yet know about…

I’m feeling pretty hopeful these days–not daft enough to think it will be easy, without challenges, or that I don’t have to make my own personal effort to realize it–that a bright future is possible… Looking forward to seeing you in a brighter future…  🙂

 – Russ Murray


1. The “sunset/halo through the grass” image (reminiscent of the on in the article on LinkedIn) is mine, copyright Russ Murray / REMAGES, www.remages.com and www.REMAG.ES 2013.

2. The other image is a screenshot from a TED Talk video, as was used to illustrate the article on Mashable.com, presented here as news/commentary only, with all rights belonging to and retained by its copyright holders.

More early fascination with technology…

I used to love going to where my dad worked. Over 20 years, he moved from clerk to the personnel manager (HR). It was a factory, downtown in my hometown of Ossining, which manufactured medical and industrial devices and they had an electron microscope on premise! It was a technology feast-for-the-senses, for me.

Anyway, here’s a shot of me at 8 years old, wearing my recently purchased Camp Kresge sweatshirt, reaching out to touch technology, with great fascination:

Rusty Murray - Russ Murray - Technology

Rusty – 1969


That’s my dad and stepmother on the right, watching me about to touch something I shouldn’t…or maybe I was telling them something I thought about that mess of parts and wires…

– Russ

Early fascination with technology…

Back in the day, I made all my own Halloween costumes, usually with the help of my father, sometimes my brother, and later on, my stepmother. This one was my first foray into technology–as a robot–lovingly constructed out of tin (aluminum?) foil, a cardboard box and heavy paper. No doubt it was the shiniest costume in the neighborhood that All Hallow’s Eve…

Rusty Robot

Halloween 1966 (?)


Unsure of the photographer, whose shadow can be seen falling on my legs, feet, and the ground in front of my robotic self…most likely my dad, or brother…

– Russ