Friday, 19 September 2014

Gobbled up.

Some mornings, even having "Blog" on my to-do list doesn't really help to get you a timely morning blog. I sit down at the computer and then I fall into a hole, doing something and being utterly gobbled up by that.

This morning, for example, I started out checking emails (as usual), writing a few short ones, and then the phone rang. Then I did my Czech lesson. And then had a bit of chat on Trillian for the current book project, and then I thought I'll just do one pomodoro's worth of work on the book right now so that I can send a file over to Australia. Which utterly enthralled me and now I'm in the second hour of work on it, and when taking a short break I suddenly realised that a) the bit of breakfast I had much earlier in the morning was not very much, and b) the blog post is yet unwritten.

So... there's the blog post. Of me telling you why it's late. And because that's not much to blog about, here are some things related to why it's late:

Pomodoro. After a long hiatus in this, I have re-activated the use of pomodoros as productivity aid yesterday. At the moment, it's mostly to make me stick with one subject for at least 25 minutes. It's nice to use this technique again, and it does help - I have gotten quite a bit of work done yesterday and today already.

Czech lesson. I've been at this for two weeks now, and I have the feeling I'm making good progress. Since I'm still quite happy with the programme, I will pass a link on to you. It's from Strokes International; they offer 24 languages (well, 22 if you want the course based in English, and counting English as second language), and you can test the first three lessons for free. They have some of the harder-to-get languages, such as Czech, Polish, Romanian, and you could even learn Japanese.
The programme has the usual problems of a computer language programme with speech recognition - sometimes you need to repeat a word a trillion times, sometimes you don't really know why it won't accept your pronounciation, and there is nobody telling you whether you are really off or whether it's a fluke in the speech recog. Still, it makes you speak a lot. It also makes you write a lot, in a not too nasty way. There are plenty of repetitions, plenty of pictures to help in learning, and a lot of "game-like" exercises such as a memory with the written term on one card, the picture on the other, and you get the spoken word for both as you flip them.
While there are a few small things that irk me (such as having to adjust the window size to my preference every time, and the programme not remembering that I want the keyboard picture at all times), I do enjoy the lessons and have the impression that yes, I am learning stuff, and not just in short-term memory - and that is the most important bit, after all. (I can memorise things quickly and easily for short term, which is nice, but not too helpful when it isn't settled into long-term brain storage, too.) For now, I can recommend it - and I hope it will stay that way!

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