How to get more reliable translations from Google Translate

Living in Central China without speaking Chinese, I frequently use Google Translate.  At times it works incredibly well, other times it makes no sense.  I see this because of the confusion in simple chat messages to Chinese people.

In the last few weeks I figured out a way to get much more reliable translations.  Since it has been working reliably, I have now sent this in to the Google Translate team as well as publishing it on my blog.

All that is needed is to show the reverse translation at the same time so the user can rephrase. for example, just now I tried to say this:

“you are very busy, my assistant can do this instead.”
which translates to

So, when I try a reverse translation in Google Translate of that Chinese phrase to English to double check it, I get this:
“You’re busy, my assistant, and not able to do it.”

Clearly this does not make sense.

So now I try simplifying my English sentence by removing the word “instead”, changing it to:
“you are very busy, my assistant can do this.”
the Google Translate result is this:

When I check this new sentence with reverse translation, it comes back in English as this:
“You’re busy, my assistant can do this.”

Now I have a good translation.  Local friends tell me it isn’t perfect Chinese, but it certainly is much better.  Even though I don’t understand the Chinese, I already know it works because I see people understand me better.

This reverse translation could be easily viewable in real time while the user is writing the sentence to ensure they’re getting a usable translation.

I hope Google Translate implements this idea. I suspect it will work for many languages given it works for a difficult language like Chinese.  Particularly for machine translation of simple things like tweets, this could be a game changing addition to Google Translate.

Keto Clarity by Jimmy Moore

My friend Jimmy Moore recently published a book named “Keto Clarity”.  If you’re looking to lose weight, this is a great book to get.

Jimmy spent a lot of time figuring out the ins and outs of the ketogenic diet.  I followed in his footsteps about a year after him and learned a lot from him.  One of my key learnings from Jimmy was that if you eat a lot of protein it actually metabolizes as glucose, knocking you out of ketosis.   I’ve tested this with a blood sugar meter and its right.

We’re getting a lot of bad information on diet from academic research.  People like Jimmy are blazing the trial on to the right path.  If you need to lose weight, or want to learn how to use the ketogenic diet for sports, Jimmy is a great resource.

Internalizing Lean Startup Machine Concepts

I’m finding I have recurring debates with people about Lean Startup processes.   People who haven’t internalized the process tend to strongly discount it or assume they understand it.  Usually they don’t.

I’ve been working with starting businesses since 2001.  All through that time I had been looking for a concept like the “lean startup”.   I knew these general ideas were important  – I saw the best startups were doing something along these lines.  But I didn’t know how to learn it.  There was no way.

Now we have Lean Startup Machine.   I took it and it changed my life, FINALLY I was able to learn the pieces I was missing.  I’d already  learned a lot of it from direct response marketing, but this seminar really tied the rest together.   A project which had been dragging on for years was neatly cleaned up and completed.

Lean Startup Machine costs a few hundred dollars.  Its worth tens of thousands of dollars.  I would pay that in cash without blinking now, knowing how important it was that I learned.  It is *not* interchangeable with other hackathons or events.  It certainly isn’t like reading the book.  You have to go to Lean Startup Machine only.

If you take the seminar, spend 3-4 days beforehand studying the material very carefully.  Read as much as you can, watch videos and go in with an open mind, trying to internalize their processes in your brain.  Focus more on nailing the concepts rather than launching an award winning startup.  You will probably find your team is behind you in understanding how things work.  That doesn’t matter, just make sure you learn how to do lean yourself.

One guy I met at a hackathon and had lots of heated debates with, finally took the lean seminar.  You can see the outcome via his two emails, below.


Hey Adrian

How’s everything? Hope all is well.

I just wanted to touch base with you to see what you’ve been up to lately. I did the Lean Startup Machine Workshop from your recommendation and I will admit, it changed my life. You were right. It changed everything about how to approach a business and as a result, I haven’t really been working much on my direct response internet marketing business the past month.

I now realize how important it was for us during that hackathon to actually implement the lean methodology. Our validation would have been much faster and we would have had an MVP that was geared towards what people want. As a result of all this, I’ve been studying lean methodology like mad and have also signed up for another Startup Weekend at the end of this month and another Lean Startup Machine after that.

email 2, a while later:
Just a quick update for you guys. This past weekend I participated in another Lean Startup Machine workshop this past weekend and actually came away with a win.

Really awesome especially since I pitched an idea and was able to lead the team to a win. Started out with a <market removed> problem and pivoted through a few levels to find a valid business model.

Good stuff…so excited about it and looking at possible ways to further this project. I think there’s definitely a market for it out there. I wanted to share this with you because you both have been integral parts of this success as well and I want to thank you for everything that you’ve done for me and the support you’ve given to me.


Recently, Yifu Guo and Alec Liu both independently recommended I read the book “The Power of Habit”.  I’d been telling them how I’ve developed poor habits over the past few years.

The book contains a fascinating story about how a woman made a simple decision to stop smoking.. And how that triggered a chain reaction of changes in her life which was utterly transformational in every way within 12 months.  All because of her decision to stop smoking.

I noticed a small example of this myself last week.  My kitchen for the past few years has always been a total mess.

For some reason I decided to order some new scrub sponges.  Then something miraculous happened.

My kitchen has gone from being a total mess to perfectly clean.  See, I LOVE a clean kitchen.  And before I never had very good scrub sponges.  So I didn’t clean it properly and basically abandoned it.  Now it is perfect.  I have no idea why I didn’t have good sponges before.  I never thought about it.

But this may have downstream consequences.  I have had my housekeeper come weekly, in large part for cleaning my kitchen and making it useable.   I also time my groceries delivery for when she comes so she can do some cooking as well.

But if the kitchen is spotlessly clean, that significantly reduces the need for her to come every week.  And, I have a great vacuum sealer so I could go back to ordering food  every 2 weeks instead of weekly, using the freezer + sealed pre-cooked food.  It takes some effort to deal with groceries + cleaning every week, so doing this every 2 weeks would be a great time saver.

All these possibilities have opened up due to $15 in sponges.

Now, I know you don’t care about my kitchen.  But its fascinating to me to notice the unexpected downstream effects one small change can have.

What small changes could you try?  What is some little thing you don’t really care about but could make a bit better just to see what happens?

UPDATE:  Its now August 8, about 45 days later.  This has been utterly transformational for me.  I’ve fully reorganized my kitchen and have been learning to cook.  My housekeeper now only comes every 2 weeks, and I order food every 2 weeks, using the freezer extensively.  The sponges was the trigger for all of this clicking into place!

If You’re Having VOIP Or Skype Problems, This May Be Why

I’ve noticed this problem for the past 10 years now, that a VOIP or Skype call will work fine.. and then start to have problems..

Static will show up on the call..  Or it will get incredibly choppy.. Or even disconnect.

What is most likely happening is that your local internet provider (whether wired or wireless) is intentionally scrambling your call.  Carriers have the ability to detect certain types of traffic and do things to it when it is in their interests.  So while your internet connection may be being used for 8 things simultaneously  they can detect the skype traffic and start discarding some of those packets, or introduce static into the line.

You can test this by signing up for a VPN like witopia and make a call.   A VPN will encrypt the call so your carrier can no longer detect what is happening.  More often than not, the problem will go away.  This is a sign you need to change your internet provider. There is no other option. (you should also complain).

One example of when this happened to me was when I was at LAX (LA Airport) and was using my tmobile 4g wireless card to call my brother in Australia. For the first 3 calls the call quality was terrible.  Then finally I tried turning on the VPN on my laptop and calling back.  The line quality was perfect.  The difference was startling.

The carriers will make excuses about this but the reality is – they scramble VOIP/Skype calls so you will use more of their services.