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Far-flung family? 彼此远隔

中国日报网 2021-11-26 12:48


Reader question:

What does “they’re a far-flung family” mean exactly?

My comments:

That’s a large family with members scattered in far-flung places all around the country, or the world, as the case may be.

Far-flung places?

Yeah, well, places which are far away and far from each other. From our standpoint here in Beijing, for example, Fiji in the South Pacific Ocean is a far-flung place.

And vice versa.

Of course. From the standpoint of Fijians, Beijing or anywhere else in China qualifies as a far-flung place.


Literally, far-flung is descriptive a piece of stone thrown far away. Literally, if you throw (fling) a stone as far as you can, that piece of stone is far-flung.

Granted, no matter how hard you try, that piece of far-flung stone is still “a stone’s throw” away from where you are, in other words, not very far but pretty near.

But that’s how it is. Metaphorically speaking, “far-flung” means far, far away and remote, while “a stone’s throw” remains very close and near.

And “a stone’s throw”, by the way, is also a real idiom.

English metaphors are very queer, you say, like, really weird.


All right, here are media examples of “far-flung”, meaning far away, remote or widespread – as the case may be:

1. When you need computing power at the edge, often that means buying extra hardware for far-flung offices or maybe loading a system on to a truck. But for some agencies, getting compute to the edge means going to infinity, and beyond.

Thursday, NASA and Hewlett Packard Enterprise announced that they will test the limits of the term “edge computing” with a new computer designed to deliver artificial intelligence in space. Later this month, the new Spaceborne Computer-2 will become the first high-performance commercial computer to operate in space on the International Space Station.

HPE says Spaceborne Computer-2 will allow astronauts to process data that used to take months in mere minutes. Once launched and assembled in space, NASA will use it for at least the next two years, giving astronauts the power to use AI and other advanced computing capabilities that were once out of reach in space.

Bringing this type of computing capability to space “is just the first step in NASA’s goals for supporting human space travel to the Moon, Mars and beyond where reliable communications is a mission critical need,” HPE said in its release.

“The most important benefit to delivering reliable in-space computing with Spaceborne Computer-2 is making real-time insights a reality. Space explorers can now transform how they conduct research based on readily available data and improve decision-making,” said Dr. Mark Fernandez, HPE’s principal investigator for Spaceborne Computer-2.

Getting and using computers in space is no easy task. First, just putting the hardware into orbit involves shooting it on a rocket — rattling, shaking and jolting through the atmosphere for minutes on end. Once in space, if the computer’s complex circuits still work, the zero-gravity environment and constant exposure to the sun’s radiation present further challenges. However, Spaceborne Computer-2 was built off a prototype launched into orbit in 2017. And HPE specially designed it to sustain operations in space, along with software coded for space-based work.

Astronauts will use the computer to process data from the space station, satellites, cameras and other sensors. Loaded with the necessary graphics processing units (GPUs), Spaceborne Computer-2 will be ready to process everything from photos of polar ice caps to medical images of the astronauts’ health, according to the news release. The GPUs’ processing power will be enough to fuel AI and machine learning capabilities, eliminating the need to send data back to earth for ground-based processing.

“Edge computing provides core capabilities for unique sites that have limited or no connectivity, giving them the power to process and analyze data locally and make critical decisions quickly,” said Shelly Anello, general manager of converged edge systems at HPE.

- NASA sends AI to space with first commercial edge computing system, FedScoop.com, February 11, 2021.


2. At its virtual Connect conference on Thursday, Facebook gave a special presentation to show the world its vision for the metaverse, and announce that it had co-opted half the term as its new company name: Meta.

The company says that it’s betting big on what it thinks will be the next big thing in personal computing, a virtual space where people can work, play, or socialize, all through the lenses of virtual reality (VR) headsets or augmented reality (AR) glasses. It expects to spend more than $10 billion on Facebook Reality Labs (henceforth to be known as just Reality Labs), the division leading the development of its mixed-reality hardware and software. It’s said to have more than 10,000 people working on the initiative already.

Thursday’s keynote didn’t feature a lot of news about specific products, but instead served as an overview of all the mixed reality R&D going on across the company now. Some of experiences took place within the confines of an Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality headset–though the Oculus brand will fade away–while others took place within real world settings, seen through the lenses of a future pair of Meta augmented reality glasses.


The most interesting use cases and experiences in the presentation happened in mixed reality. They seemed far more believable and human (and less claustrophobic) than the VR spaces. And because of that, they could ultimately be far more effective at giving far-flung friends or family a feeling of togetherness through technology.

In the presentation, we saw a man sitting at a chess board on the street, and across from him was his friend and opponent from across the world, represented as a sort of ghost image (presumably that’s how the friends looked to each other through AR glasses). They were playing chess using a virtual chess board positioned between them.

Other people played ping pong and basketball in a similar fashion in other real-world settings. The presentation didn’t explain how those ghostly 3D digital images of the people were created. One of the big R&D challenges of augmented reality is creating photorealistic avatars to visually represent users in virtual space.
Unfortunately it’s these mixed reality experiences that may be hardest to pull off. The AR glasses required need very powerful processors and lots of sensors, all packed into a normal-sized pair of glasses. Michael Abrash, who leads Meta’s development of AR glasses, says that the company must make research breakthroughs in a dozen different areas before it can make its conception of AR glasses a reality.

- Facebook is now ‘Meta.’ The hard part of building the metaverse comes next, FastCompany.com, October 29, 2021.


3. In 2016, my family and I packed our bags and moved from Chicago to Mazatlán, Mexico. After my mother passed away unexpectedly, my husband and I realized that life is too short to put off building the life we wanted.

We had about $20,000 in our savings, which was more than enough to get by due to the lower cost of living in Mazatlán.

Then, after two beautiful years in Mexico, my husband, Vernon, landed an incredible opportunity to teach at a medical university in Antigua, an island in the eastern Caribbean Sea that’s famous for its beautiful weather and 365 beaches.

Once again, we packed up our things and booked a one-way flight.

The initial months were difficult, especially because Vernon's first few paychecks were prorated. I still had a very limited income — less than $1,000 a month — from my freelance gig as a copywriter.

We also incurred a lot of moving expenses, including the plane tickets, first month’s rent ($1,250), a security deposit ($1,250) and our rental car ($400 per month). Plus, our cost of living, though still cheaper than in the U.S., jumped significantly.

But we stuck it out because we love Antigua — and I’m glad we did. We’re now in a completely different place financially, as my business has grown and we’ve found ways to spend less. We plan our meals and eat at home often. Before making a purchase, big or small, we always ask: Is this a need or a want?

After saving up a good amount of money, and with the help of my in-laws’ interest-free loan, we purchased a used car for about $10,000, which we’ve now fully paid off.

I run my own copywriting business and do some mindset and business coaching on the side. I bring in an income of about $5,000 per month. My husband makes about $5,700 per month from his job at the university.

Our combined monthly income allows us to pay our bills, enjoy the island lifestyle, and save for the future. Since last year, we've been putting $500 per month into our joint retirement savings account.


When we do choose a paid activity like going to the movies or scuba diving, we look for days with discounted prices. My daughter took her first scuba diving lesson on a special girls-only day, which was free.

We plan to continue living abroad for as long as we can. Our children are already thinking about the universities they want to attend — all in far-flung places like Dubai and the U.K. This is exactly what we wanted for them; they have well-rounded cultural values and are open to new cultures, places and ideas.

- They left the U.S. for the beach life: ‘We now save over $2,200 a month’—here’s how they earn and spend money, by Gabriella M. Lindsay, CNBC.com, Nov 20, 2021.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)


No mean feat? 绝非易事


Full-time role? 全职工作


Lick his wounds? 恢复元气


Make no bones? 直言不讳


Fan base? 粉丝群


Kept at an arm’s length? 保持距离

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