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It is not easy being Microsoft. The price of its Windows operating system, the foundation of its empire, is falling for personal computers. At the same time the market for PCs, on which Windows is installed, stagnates. Microsoft analysts have been busy cutting revenue targets.微软(Microsoft)如今的处境实属不易。Windows是这个商业帝国的根基,而该操作系统应用于个人电脑(PC)的版本的价格在不断下滑。同时,PC市场停止了增长。关注微软的分析师们频频下调该公司营收预测。What might happen if this continues — if the price of a Windows operating system on a personal computer drops to zero? It is currently roughly , Stifel estimates, but is heading that way. Chinese users with pirated versions of Windows 7 or Windows 8 will get free Windows 10 upgrades this summer, Microsoft announced this week. There are hundreds of millions of Windows users in China; three-quarters of them use pirated versions.如果这种情况持续下去,会出现什么结果呢?倘若PC版Windows的价格降到了零呢?据Stifel估计目前Windows售价在35美元左右,但看来它正朝着零的方向下滑。微软本周宣布,使用盗版Windows 7或Windows 8系统的中国用户今年夏天将可免费升级为正版Windows 10。中国有数亿Windows用户,其中3/4用户使用盗版Windows。The amnesty points to a broader challenge: more and more operating systems are free. Google gives its PC operating system away — fuelling cheap Chromebooks that have sold like hot cakes. Apple’s operating systems are baked into the price of the device. The -a-pop operating system for consumer PCs is never coming back.此项特赦令折射出微软面临一个更大的挑战:免费操作系统越来越多。谷歌(Google)的PC操作系统就是免费的——预装Chrome系统的笔记本电脑因为价格低廉而热销。苹果(Apple)操作系统的价格已经嵌入其设备的价格中。40美元一套的家用PC操作系统大势已去。In its place, Microsoft’s revenues will gradually rely more on the services and applications that run on top of Windows. These include things such as Skype, Office, and OneDrive on the consumer side; and cloud computing and commercial Office subscriptions on the enterprise side. This is not such a dim prospect. Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, signs up more than 10,000 new customers per week, and its revenue growth is in the triple digits. Hardware sales have also been strong. And corporate support agreements will continue to bolster Microsoft’s enterprise revenues.微软今后的营收将更依赖于在Windows平台上运行的设备及应用,包括Skype、Office、OneDrive之类的个人端应用,以及云计算和商用版Office等企业端务。这样的前景不算坏。微软的云计算平台Azure每周新签约用户超过1万,营收增速达三位数。硬件销售也保持强劲。同时,企业持协议将继续撑微软企业业务的营收。In the near term though, Microsoft’s sales will be under pressure from the transition. Two years ago, the last time Microsoft did investors the favour of providing a clean Windows sales number, Windows represented over a fifth of sales. Given that the shares have risen 50 per cent in the past two years, some air may come out of the stock.不过,近期来看,微软的销售额将承受来自转型的压力。上一次微软向投资者提供漂亮的Windows销售数据是在两年前,当时Windows占到总销售额的1/5以上。考虑到过去两年间微软股价上涨了50%,其股票可能会挤出一些气泡。 /201503/365696On Wednesday morning, during Google’s annual meeting, a shareholder named John M. Simpson stood up to question the company’s top executives about its self-driving car program. They were not friendly questions.周三早上,谷歌(Google)举行年会时,一位名叫约翰·M·辛普森(John M. Simpson)的股东站起来,向公司的高管提问关于自动驾驶汽车项目的问题。这些问题可并不友好。Simpson, 67, works for a nonprofit called Consumer Watchdog, where he directs its Privacy Project. In recent years, he has focused largely on Google, which, he told me, he hopes to prod into “being more respectful of people’s privacy when they do business.” Owning Google stock allows him to ask questions at the annual meeting.67岁的辛普森供职于一家名为消费者监督(Consumer Watchdog)的非营利机构,是该机构隐私项目(Privacy Project)的主管。近几年来,他基本上都在关注谷歌,他告诉我,他希望督促这家公司“在经营业务时更尊重人们的隐私”。由于持有谷歌的股份,他可以在一年一度的会议上提问。In the run-up to this week’s meeting, Simpson issued a string of press releases critical of Google’s self-driving vehicles. He feared that Google would collect data from car owners, stripping away even more of people’s privacy. He noted that Google’s “autonomous cars,” as they’re called, have been involved in 11 accidents (two recent fender-benders brings it up to 13). He listed what he said were the technology’s flaws: for instance, that it can’t make out hand signals from a driver in another car.在本周的会议召开之前,辛普森发表了一系列新闻稿批评谷歌的自动驾驶汽车。他担心,谷歌会收集车主的数据,盘剥人们更多的隐私。他注意到,已经有11宗事故(算上最近的两次剐蹭,共有13宗)都涉及谷歌的所谓“自动汽车”。他提到了一些在他看来属于技术缺陷的问题,例如,不能理解另一辆车中司机做出的手势。Finally, Simpson noted that Google — and Google alone — envisions cars that have no steering wheels or brakes, cars where everyone is a passenger. Simpson views this as Google’s hubris, pointing out that other car companies view self-driving technology as a complement, not replacement, for the driver. “We think there always needs to be the ability of a human to take over if need be,” he told me. Having looked into it more closely, I’ve come to the opposite conclusion.最后,辛普森提到,谷歌——只有谷歌——构想的是一种没有方向盘、没有刹车的汽车,所有人都是乘客。辛普森认为,这是谷歌的傲慢。他指出,其他汽车公司认为,自动驾驶技术对司机是一种补充,而不是替代。“我们认为,让人类在必要时控制车辆,这一点总是需要的,”他告诉我。在更仔细地研究过这一问题之后,我得出了相反的结论。Google’s effort to build a self-driving car is part of the division called Google X, led by a scientist with the too perfect name of Astro Teller. The goal of Google X is to attempt “moonshots” — efforts that require a radical solution that, if they succeed, would solve a huge problem (while making a nice return for Google, of course). The big problem self-driving cars could help solve, said Teller in a recent speech, is the “1.2 million people who die every year in car accidents.”谷歌制造自动驾驶汽车的项目,是一个称作Google X的部门开展的。领导这个部门的科学家有一个再合适不过的名字,叫做阿斯特罗·泰勒(Astro Teller,意为“星际揭秘者”——译注)。Google X的目标是尝试“瞄准月亮开炮”——这样志存高远的项目需要激进的解决方案,如果成功的话可以解决重大问题(当然也可以为谷歌带来丰厚的回报)。泰勒在最近的一次演讲中说道,自动驾驶汽车可以解决的重大问题是,“每年在行车事故中有120万人丧生”。During the six years Google has been working on self-driving technology, its cars have been taught to understand how to traverse the roads. With their combination of robotics, sensors and computing power, they know how to stop at a stop sign, look for oncoming pedestrians, change lanes, get on the freeway and anticipate all the various problems that drivers face.在谷歌研究自动驾驶技术的六年时间里,研究人员已经让谷歌汽车学会了在马路上如何通行。通过综合运用机器人技术、传感器和计算能力,这些汽车懂得怎样在停车标牌前停车、注意走来的行人、变道、驶入高速路,并为司机遇到的各种问题预先做好准备。Using retrofitted Lexuses, Google has driven a million miles autonomously. More recently, it has built several dozen small cars without steering wheels and brakes and is y to test them in the streets of Mountain View, Calif. (though the State of California is insisting that Google add a steering wheel and brakes to the cars it sends out for this experiment).谷歌使用经过改装的雷克萨斯(Lexus)汽车,已经自动驾驶了100万英里。最近,谷歌还制造了数十辆没有方向盘和刹车的小轿车,而且已经准备好在加利福尼亚州山景市(Mountain View)的街道上进行试驾。(不过加州参议院坚持要求谷歌在开上街头试驾的车辆中,增加方向盘和刹车。)It’s true that Google is alone in envisioning a world of completely driverless cars, while other car companies see self-driving technology as merely an extra feature that can be turned off. Google’s conclusion is not the result of hubris, however. Unlike its new cars, the retrofitted Lexuses also allow for human driving.的确,只有谷歌在构想一个汽车完全无人驾驶的世界,而其他汽车厂商认为,自动驾驶技术只是一个可以关闭的额外功能。但是谷歌得出这样的论断并不是因为傲慢。不像谷歌新制造的汽车那样,改装的雷克萨斯也允许人类驾驶。Google realized that when people had the ability to drive autonomously, they paid less attention to what they were doing. “People don’t even pay attention to driving when they are driving,” said Teller. The cars, which have 360-degree vision and can “see” much further ahead than humans, were at their safest when people didn’t have the option of taking the controls.谷歌发现,尽管人类有自主驾驶汽车的能力,但他们对自己正在做的事情付出的注意力更少。“人们在开车的时候,甚至都不去注意与开车相关的事情,”泰勒说。这些汽车有着360度的视野,可以“看到”的距离远比人类远,不提供让人类控制的选项,反而是最安全的。Alain Kornhauser, a self-driving car expert at Princeton University, pointed out to me that when the auto companies install autonomous features to aid drivers, it won’t be the humans who escape accidents by taking over from the technology — which is what Simpson assumes. Rather, the technology will step in to override human error.普林斯顿大学(Princeton University)的自动驾驶汽车专家艾伦·科恩豪泽(Alain Kornhauser)指出,汽车厂商为了辅助驾驶员而安装了自动驾驶技术,但这不是像辛普森所设想的那样,让人类从科技手中夺过驾驶权,进而从事故中脱身,而是让技术介入,纠正人类的错误。Google notes that in every accident its cars have been involved in, all of them minor, the self-driving cars have never been at fault — except on the one occasion when a Google driver took the controls. And all the “flaws” Simpson notes are things that Google has either solved or is in the process of solving.谷歌提到,涉及该公司汽车的事故都是小事故,而且任何一起事故中,自动驾驶汽车都没有责任——只有一起除外,而那次事故中谷歌的驾驶员掌握了方向盘。而且辛普森提到的所有“缺陷”,谷歌不是已经解决,就是正在解决过程中。At the annual meeting, Simpson asked Google if it would pledge not to use any customer data it gathers from driverless cars for marketing purposes. David Drummond, the company’s general counsel, ducked the question, saying it was too early to make any such pledge. Simpson also asked Google to release the accident reports. In truth, Google has released plenty of information about the accidents, and on Friday began issuing monthly reports that include descriptions of accidents.在年会上,辛普森询问谷歌,是否愿意承诺,不将无人驾驶汽车中搜集的顾客数据用于营销目的。谷歌首席法务官戴维·德拉蒙德(David Drummond)回避了这个问题,称现在做出任何此类承诺都为时过早。辛普森还要求谷歌公布相关的事故报告。实际上,谷歌发布了很多关于事故的信息,而且开始在周五发布月度报告,其中包括对事故的描述。Simpson and other consumer advocates are right to press Google — and all the big tech companies — on privacy issues. The profligate use of our data has become a big concern for many Americans. But on the question of whether Google should be promoting completely autonomous cars, he couldn’t be more wrong. The sooner they are a reality, the safer we’ll all be.#9744;辛普森和其他消费者权益倡导人士就隐私议题向谷歌(以及所有大型科技企业)施压是正确的。对我们的数据的恣意使用,已经成了许多美国人担心的大问题。至于谷歌是不是应该推广完全自动驾驶的汽车,他真是大错特错。它们越早成为现实,我们大家就越安全。 /201506/380102The millions of New Yorkers who pour out of crowded subway cars and into high-tech jobs in Manhattan every day would be taken aback to see inside the 4th Street signal tower. The tower — a subterranean room in Greenwich Village — is a veritable museum of ancient, electromechanical technology, some of it dating back to the 1930s and 1940s. 纽约每天有数百万人从拥挤的地铁车厢蜂拥而出、然后奔向曼哈顿的各个高科技岗位。如果他们看到第四街(4th Street)信号室内部的样子,可能会大吃一惊。位于格林威治村(Greenwich Village)地下的这间信号室是一个名副其实的物馆,展示着古旧的电机技术,其中某些部分可追溯至上世纪三四十年代。 The technology still controls trains safely but it is growing harder to maintain. The system’s limitations also restrict the number of trains the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), the subway system’s operator, can operate at the busiest times. 这种技术仍安全地调控着地铁,但越来越难以维护。该系统的局限性也限制了地铁系统运营方纽约大都会交通署(Metropolitan Transportation Authority)在高峰期能够运营的最大列车数量。 Two companies, Germany’s Siemens and France’s Thales, face the formidable challenge of replacing outmoded technology on key parts of the system with modern electronic systems that will cost less to maintain and increase capacity. 德国西门子(Siemens)和法国泰雷兹(Thales)这两家公司面临这项艰巨的挑战:用维护成本较低、能够增加运力的现代电子系统,去替换地铁原有信号系统关键部位的过时技术。 Yet they face the task not only of making the new communications-based train control (CBTC) system work with older technology but also of installing it on a network that operates round the clock. This all-day, all-night operation sets New York apart from other old metro systems such as London and Paris, which have made far more rapid progress in installing CBTC signalling. 然而,它们不仅面临让新的基于通信的列车控制(CBTC)系统与老技术兼容的任务,而且还得把它安装在一个全天候运营的网络中。这种24小时不间断运营让纽约的地铁系统不同于伦敦和巴黎等其他较旧的地铁系统,后者在安装CBTC信号系统方面取得了更为迅速的进展。 “The railroad doesn’t stop,” Kevin Riddett, head of Siemens Mobility business in the US, says. “You get very limited access.” 西门子交通(Siemens Mobility)业务美国负责人凯文#8226;里德特(Kevin Riddett)表示:“地铁系统不会停下来,我们的安装操作非常受局限。” One problem is the lack of clear records about what was installed in the first place. The work is also going to move quickly beyond the two discrete lines where installation has been tried first — the Canarsie line, which carries the L train from Manhattan to outer Brooklyn, and the Flushing line that carries the 7 train through Queens. The system started operating on the Canarsie line in 2007 and is due to go into operation on the 7 train next year. 一个问题在于缺乏原本安装了什么的清晰记录。工程还将迅速扩展至首次试安装CBTC系统的两条互不相连的线路以外。这两条线路一条是从曼哈顿至远郊布鲁克林的运营L号线的卡纳西线(Canarsie line),另一条是从曼哈顿到皇后区运营7号线的法拉盛线(Flushing line)。该系统从2007年开始在卡纳西线运营,并计划从明年起在7号线上运营。 Siemens and Thales were last year both awarded contracts to start installing CBTC on the Queens Boulevard Line. Like much of the New York subway, the four-track line is used by multiple different services. All the trains operating on the route will need technology to communicate with the new signals. 西门子和泰雷兹(Thales)去年全都获得了在IND皇后大道线(Queens Boulevard Line)开始安装CBTC系统的合同。与纽约地铁许多线路一样,这条四轨线路供多个不同的务使用。所有在该线上运营的列车都将需要技术装备来与新的信号系统通讯。 The award of the contracts for work on Queens Boulevard was a sign of the MTA’s determination to make improvements across the network, Thomas Prendergast, the MTA’s chairman, said in July when awarding the work. MTA主席托马斯#8226;普伦德加斯特(Thomas Prendergast)在去年7月授予这些合同时表示,授予这些在IND皇后大道线上作业的合同,表明MTA决心升级改造整个网络。 Installation of CBTC has allowed a substantial increase in L train services. CBTC系统的安装使得L线列车出勤大幅增加。 “CBTC represents the MTA’s efforts to bring advanced technology to a century-old subway system that, in some parts, has not been updated in decades,” Mr Prendergast said. 普伦德加斯特表示:“CBTC代表着MTA向一个拥有百年历史的地铁系统引入先进技术的努力,这个地铁系统的某些部分已有几十年没有升级改造过。” However, Mr Riddett also points out that CBTC installation on the Canarsie line took a painful seven years as the company struggled to adapt microprocessor-based technology for the first time to the subway. He is hopeful the Queens Boulevard work will be far faster and that the MTA should start working faster on installation elsewhere. 然而,里德特也指出,在卡纳西线上安装CBTC系统耗费了7年时间、过程艰辛,因为该公司很难将基于微处理器的技术首次运用于地铁上。他预计IND皇后大道线的工程进展将会快得多,而且MTA应该会更快开始在其他线路上安装这一系统。 “All of the technology is proven out for Queens Boulevard,” he says. 他说:“在IND皇后大道线上安装的时候,这项技术已全部经过了检验。” /201603/431863

Facebook will face two class-action lawsuits after a federal judge said shareholders could pursue their case against the social network, which plaintiffs claim hid concerns about its growth forecasts ahead of its bn initial public offering.Facebook将面对两起集体诉讼。此前一名联邦法官表示,Facebook股东可以对这家社交网络提起诉讼,原告声称Facebook在160亿美元的首次公开发行(IPO)之前隐瞒了对其增长预测的担忧。The world’s largest social network cut its revenue forecasts in the middle of its IPO roadshow, ahead of the offering in May 2012, amid concerns that consumers were switching to using the site on mobile, where it was unclear if it could generate the same degree of growth from advertisements.2012年5月的IPO之前,由于担心消费者会转而在移动端连接其网站,这家全球最大社交网络曾在路演过程中下调营收预期。当时不清楚Facebook能否在移动端创造同样程度的广告增长。Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook chief executive, and Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook chief operating officer, are among the defendants at Facebook, being sued by two classes of investors — retail and institutional. The complaint was brought by three state and local retirement plans in the US, lead by the North Carolina state treasurer and five individual investors.Facebook首席执行官马克丠克伯格(Mark Zuckerberg)和Facebook首席运营官谢里尔儠德伯格(Sheryl Sandberg)均被列入Facebook一方的被告,他们被散户和机构投资者这两类投资者起诉。这一起诉由美国三个州政府和地方退休计划提起,领头的是北卡罗来纳州财政部长和五名个人投资者。Shares in Facebook collapsed following the IPO, falling almost 50 per cent in the first three months, as investors worried that it might never generate as much advertising revenue on mobile as it had from the desktop site.由于投资者担心Facebook或许永远都不能在移动端产生与桌面版网站同样多的广告营收,Facebook股价在IPO之后曾出现暴跌,在头三个月内跌去近50%。However, improvements to the mobile app and marketers’ fast adoption of targeted advertising on Facebook, helped the company grow mobile revenue and it now generates more than three-quarters of its total advertising revenue from ads on mobile devices. Three and a half years on, Facebook’s stock has now soared almost 180 per cent from its first day of trading.然而,对移动应用的改进以及市场营销人员对Facebook定向广告的迅速接纳,帮助Facebook获得了移动端营收的增长。如今,Facebook总的广告收入中超过四分之三来自移动设备上投放的广告。在IPO三年半之后,Facebook股价如今比上市首日高出近180%。 /201601/419989

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