How To Own a Kindle and Not Be a Pretentious Moneywaster

March 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Pictured: Probably not saving money

Monetary issues

  • 1 Kindle costs $139 dollars plus shipping. Lets round this to 140 for simplicity’s sake.
  • Kindle books cost around 10 dollars (Assuming you buy them from amazon), plus you can virtually any classic for free
  • Your average paperback book goes for around 15 to 20 dollars, your average hardcover going for around 25 – 30 dollars

So it follows that if you only buy paperbacks that each purchase saves around 5 dollars.
Simple math would tell you that in order for the Kindle to break even you would have to read 28 books. It doesn’t seem like much, but this gets a bit complicated when you factor in that the cost of 28 paperback books (or a kindle with 28 books) is $420. However, if you read that many books it may be profitable for you to get a hold of a kindle.

You can, however get a huge number of classics for free. This is easily accomplished due to the fact that the kindle actually supports .txt files! And thanks to the existence of Project Gutenberg, Classics in .txt format are not difficult to come by.
Take, for example, Stoker’s Dracula. Because Dracula’s copyright has expired, Gutenberg can distribute a digitized version of it. Upon searching their website, I found that they not only had a .txt version, but a kindle ebook as well!
However certain books are not available in Gutenberg’s website. As an alternative, their branch located in Australia has many books that their US branch does not (e.g. Animal Farm, The Great Gatsby, 1984, etc.)

There’s no real way to get around the fact that the Kindle is pretty useless unless you read quite a bit. However, it can be useful and convenient for those who read a great deal.

Categories: Education, Uncategorized

How Manga Can Help You Learn a Language

November 26, 2010 Leave a comment

I am a huge language learning fanatic. I’ve dabbled in Linguistics, and I’ve learned a bit of Spanish and Japanese. Perhaps the most important tool I’ve used in learning them has been the Spaced Repetition System, using Anki. Those of you who follow my blog may know that I’ve written about Anki before, but I’ve used it for learning a wide variety of skills, one of the most notable being foreign language.

I was introduced to Anki through All Japanese All The Time, which anyone interested in foreign language should check out. In his blog, Kazhumoto uses a number of ideas circulating in the language community. A key concept he details is the reaching of 10,000 sentences in spaced repetition. This, coupled with the spending of 10,000 hours of “doing stuff” in the target language should provide a reasonable depth in the language.

This is where manga comes in.

Manga, for those who do not know, is the Japanese form of comic books, which has a reasonably large following around the world. It goes hand in hand with anime, light novels, and visual novel games, and there is a sizable part of the world who consume translated forms of these.

It is not uncommon for fans of these mediums to take it upon themselves to translate manga, often scanning and replacing the Japanese text with their own, ergo “scanlations.”

While usually in English, there exists a sizable community for translations into other languages, for example Spanish. One of my favorite places to find manga in Spanish is animextremist (which, as a warning, is completely in Spanish.)

In addition to be a lot of fun to read, these translated comic books are an absolute gold mine for sentences to place in an SRS. If you know enough of a language to read basic phrases, its an incredibly great way to learn. Its like having a textbook that teaches you common speech and phrases, is fun to read, and learns at a pace optimal for you.

My personal strategy for using manga to learn languages is to simply read until I come across a phrase I am unfamiliar with. When I find one, I write it in a notebook, along with a translation (I like doing this in Cornell format so that I can use them as quick flashcards in case my laptop battery dies or my hard drive corrupts.) When I reach the end of a chapter (usually around 16 or so pages), I enter the phrases into Anki and learn from there.

If you can find a group that translates manga into another language, it can be an easy and amusing way to inch closer to fluency, and aside that a fun way to spend a few minutes.

 

How Manga Can Help You Learn a Language

I am a huge language learning fanatic. I’ve dabbled in Linguistics, and I’ve learned a bit of Spanish and Japanese. Perhaps the most important tool I’ve used in learning them has been the Spaced Repetition System, using Anki. Those of you who follow my blog may know that I’ve written about Anki before, but I’ve used it for learning a wide variety of skills, one of the most notable being foreign language.

I was introduced to Anki through All Japanese All The Time, which anyone interested in foreign language should check out. In his blog, Kazhumoto uses a number of ideas circulating in the language community. A key concept he details is the reaching of 10,000 sentences in spaced repetition. This, coupled with the spending of 10,000 hours of “doing stuff” in the target language should provide a reasonable depth in the language.

This is where manga comes in.

Manga, for those who do not know, is the Japanese form of comic books, which has a reasonably large following around the world. It goes hand in hand with anime, light novels, and visual novel games, and there is a sizable part of the world who consume translated forms of these.

It is not uncommon for fans of these mediums to take it upon themselves to translate manga, often scanning and replacing the Japanese text with their own, ergo “scanlations.”

While usually in English, there exists a sizable community for translations into other languages, for example Spanish. One of my favorite places to find manga in Spanish is animextremist (which, as a warning, is completely in Spanish.)

In addition to be a lot of fun to read, these translated comic books are an absolute gold mine for sentences to place in an SRS. If you know enough of a language to read basic phrases, its an incredibly great way to learn. Its like having a textbook that teaches you common speech and phrases, is fun to read, and learns at a pace optimal for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My personal strategy for using manga to learn languages is to simply read until I come across a phrase I am unfamiliar with. When I find one, I write it in a notebook, along with a translation (I like doing this in Cornell format so that I can use them as quick flashcards in case my laptop battery dies or my hard drive corrupts.) When I reach the end of a chapter (usually around 16 or so pages), I enter the phrases into Anki and learn from there.

If you can find a group that translates manga into another language, it can be an easy and amusing way to inch closer to fluency, and aside that a fun way to spend a few minutes.

Categories: Uncategorized

The M-Net Study Plan

November 26, 2010 2 comments

I developed this academic study plan over the course of three months in 2010, intending it to be used for myself and a friend. I developed this program by combining what I knew about learning foreign languages, productivity, and time management. Using this system, I raised my grade-point average from 4.1 to 4.3 in just a few months.

The way that this system works is by having multiple units which co-exist optimally, acting like a sort of butterfly net or mosquito net for information. If there is a small hole in the net, the net does not unravel due to the connections between the units. Hence, M-net.

The main ideas behind this system is as follows.

  • Balancing understanding with memorization
  • Using updated and more efficient tools and methods than is the current standard
  • Using an efficient system that “auto-optimizes” for each individual
  • Retaining academic knowledge in the long-term for exams, instead of re-learning it
  • Organization and forward planning
  • Using a system that naturally progress to a tool to review for midterms or finals
  • Using a system that allows much more free time than one based on learning by rote

Ideally, this system takes around 25 minutes per day, although oftentimes the system takes up even less time than that.

The first and most effective unit in this system is a spaced repetition flashcard system. I can’t say I have much experience on which is best, but I’ve used anki for quite a long time.

Anki is a flashcard program which puts paper flashcards to shame. Instead of using a traditional learn-by-rote flashcard system to commit to short term memory for tests, it spaces each card out in order to commit the majority of the information to long term memory. This is incredibly invaluable.

The best part about this is that it spaces out the information in the most optimal way for you, the user, to learn. It doesn’t simply space everything until the end of time, assuming you will remember in a perfect manner. It lets you rank your success on each card, reviewing more difficult material before the easier material. This ensures that you will not waste any time learning.

Using this for school is relatively simple. You’ll want to enter your notes in as questions (which I will elaborate on further), enter your homework questions and enter your test questions into the subject deck. It can get a bit tedious to enter in everything, but even just a few a week becomes an incredible amount upon midterms and finals. Try thinking of 1000 questions on a given topic in a few days before the test, and then try thinking of 10 questions a day.

Most students should be familiar with the feeling of the day before a big test. Most students spend the days before a test essentially re-learning everything they need. This is an enormous waste of time. Using this system removes that phase altogether, thus turning your time spent studying actually studying instead of relearning.

Anki, however, requires a few minutes each day. Many people simply don’t have the drive to do something every single day. This is the single greatest roadblock in terms of studying. It is important to form a habit of reviewing these cards each day. Once a habit is formed, it greatly reduces the stress of pre-test cramming and makes studying almost eerily addicting.

The next object in this system is the use of mindmaps. Mindmaps are an extremely valuable tool for presenting a large amount of information in a visual format. These are excellent for summing up a chapter to study for a test, or taking general notes during “review days”. They are also very useful for taking notes using a teacher who doesn’t teach in a linear order (i.e. the teacher everyone had in high-school that nobody could understand.)



Its important that these not be taken formally. The purpose of mindmaps is that they create visual connections, causing the one who takes them to see the general shape of the object. Doodling is not only allowed, but beneficial, so long as you can create visual connections between pictures and ideas.

In addition to mindmaps and flashcards, another important unit in this system is Cornell note-taking. Generally, you divide the page into four sections – The header, the cue column, the notes and the summary. The idea is that you create a sort of flashcards in your notes, which make them easy to place into Anki. At the end of each class, you write about a paragraph summarizing the notes. This system is more difficult to explain than to use, and to learn how it is simply best to look at an example or two.

Finally, the last step is to create a summary sheet. In order to do this, you take the summaries from all of the Cornell notes and place them into one document, shrinking the font size and abbreviating until everything can fit on one page. Its is helpful to keep explanations to the maximum and examples to the minimum. This helps to read the entire course at a quick glance, as well as review the course quickly before finals or midterms.

So in summary, the system is entirely connected in order to commit as much as possible to memory and to simplify the study process. Spaced Repetition is an effective way to memorize the necessary information, Cornell Notes simplify the process of turning notes into flashcards, The summary sheet is made easier by the summary section of the Cornell system, and mindmaps present everything in a unit in a powerful and visually impacting way. The system is better at keeping your mind focused than that last cup of coffee.

Categories: Education, Eryk's Notebook

Ubuntu: An Operating System Review

October 24, 2009 Leave a comment

Ubuntu_logo

Ubuntu is the most popular distribution of Linux, boasting amazing support, around 8 million users and a mostly GUI interface. I installed it on a discarded and dying windows 2000 laptop and absolutely loved it. It ran fast on old hardware, had a lot of customizability (Which was a must considering that default theme), and was easily the best way for me to learn how to use Linux.

Ultimate

Despite its positives, there were a few negative sides to it. First of all, boot time was very slow. That combined with my slow-moving laptop made boot time almost painfully slow. It made up for this in actual running speed, but it was annoying nonetheless. Also, Wireless divices with windows drivers need to be set up with NDISwrapper, which is a huge pain, especially if you don’t have the original driver CD.

ndiswrapper-[1]

Overall, Ubuntu is a very strong Linux distribution thats great for beginners and veterans alike. I wholeheartedly reccommend it.  9/10.

Categories: Tech

Talents

October 23, 2009 Leave a comment

While making a short montage of my talents, I was wondering if anyone else has any interesting talents they’d like to show the world. If you have a talent you think people will find interesting, post a link in the comments. Interesting talents will be featured in a future post.

Categories: Fun

How to Play Great Chess and Beat 90% of People

September 11, 2009 1 comment

avpchessfront

Most people who know how to play chess don’t know more than how to move the peices. Knowing this, you can learn to play better than 99% of people with about an hour or two’s worth of practice.

A little background about me. I’ve been playing competitive chess for about 4 years, learning to play just about 9 years ago. I’m registered with the United States Chess Federation, with a Player Rating of 1186, which puts me in around the top 0.0001% of chess players. I can beat nearly anyone who doesn’t play in a competitive environment.

Playing great chess doesn’t take much more than knowing a few basic principles. (I write this without using chess notation for ease of reading, but it’s probably better if you learn it.)

1. Developing your pieces.

When you move a piece, think ahead. In the first few moves of the game, move pieces where they will be most active. A piece that can move to six squares is much more powerful than one that can only move 4.

A solid opening

A solid opening with Good Development

2. Aim for the Center

If you can take control of the center, you have access to nearly the entire board. This is another thing you should do at the start of a chess game.

Who's Winning?

Who's Winning?

3. Learn very basic opening theory.

Its good to know the first few moves to play. Learn the first four or so moves to an opening. Don’t go over that. Memorizing opening moves isn’t something you’ll want to do.

The Ruy Lopez, one of the most popular openings.

The Ruy Lopez, one of the most popular openings.

4. Put an intense focus on tactics.

Tactics are sequences of moves that result in gaining of material. If your opponent has one less knight, he’s at a big disadvantage. Oftentimes at club level and below, chess is all about overpowering your opponent tactically. Consider buying a program like “Chess Tactics for beginners”. Don’t be put off by the kiddie cover and lowly name, this is a great program.

Not required, but reccommended.

Not required, but reccommended.

5. BLUNDERCHECK

If you’re going to lose a queen, move it out of the way. If your opponent is threatening mate or win of material, prevent it. Take time to look at all your opponent’s threats, moves, and any hanging pieces either by either player. All the strategy in the world is useless if you’re hanging peices, and you won’t need to pay attention to pawn structure if your opponent overlooked mate.

Moving the Kingside Knight was a Blunder

Moving the Kingside Knight was a Blunder

That alone should be enough to improve your chess above average. Those are some very sound tips that won’t make you a competative player, but you can use to beat your friends.

Cheers.

Categories: Eryk's Notebook, Fun

Quicktip #1: How to get Unlimited Downloads from Megaupload

August 4, 2009 Leave a comment

Megaupload is a filesharing website that allows you to upload and download files from their server. Its hugely popular, despite huge limitations if you don’t buy a premium account. One thing I particularly dislike about it is that it limits you to a few hundred megabytes per day. There is, however, a very easy way to get around it.

The site finds something called your IP address and when you pass the limit it bars that IP address from downloading any more. The easiest solution is to just get a different IP address.

1st you’ll want to go to start -> run -> CMD

2nd you type “Ipconfig /all” (without quotes). Take note of your IP address

3rd you type “ipconfig /flushdns”

4th you type “ipconfig /renew”

5th you need to delete your cookies and clear you cache. In firefox this can be done via Ctrl + Shift + Del

6th you should type “ipconfig /all” again and confirm that you have another IP address

You should then be able to download without hassle until the new IP reaches max. Repeat this until you finish downloading.

Categories: Eryk's Notebook, Tech
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