September 2nd, 2007


Rosetta Stoned

Rosetta stone is a software language tutor. The free demo disc covers 28 languages, including all the ones I wish I knew more of:
Arabic, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Tagalog and Spanish. britgeekgrrl will be pleased to know they do Welsh. Hebrew and Thai are also on there - the plan is to use those as a control.

So I launch Vietnamese. There are four photos in a 2x2 grid. A boy, a girl, a dog, a cat. The voice says a short sentence, which is written in Vietnamese above the grid. Vietnamese uses the Roman alphabet, with some fairly intuitive tone marks, so it's not hard to learn to read as you learn to speak.

Trouble is, instead of just saying "boy", they say something like "here is a boy" or maybe "this is a photo of a boy".

Whatever they say, you have to guess which photo applies, and click on it. If you guess wrong, it puts an X on the picture and repeats the sentence. If you guess right, it says another sentence, one of the words has changed. Maybe more than one if gender conjugation is involved. Once you guess all four, another grid comes on. Man, woman, car, airplane. Soccer ball, horse, airplane, elephant. Cat with car, boy with airplane, man and boy, woman and girl. And so on.

They have a couple of  right ideas - do it visually, do it in the language being taught (no translations). They have a couple of wrong ideas - they do not reinforce what you have learned (they should repeat the sentence when you click on the correct picture, instead they interrupt the sentence as soon as you click the image, and launch into the next sentence of next set of images. The images are also too ambiguous. For example, the photo they use for a man and a woman is a bride and groom in full Chinese bridal costume. The image of the boy and the plane shows the kid from the back, climbing onto the wing of a small private plane (you can't tell gender from that photo).

I thought this would be good stuff for reinforcing a language you are learning, but it's not great for starting a new language from scratch. So I popped open the Thai lesson. Same photos as the Vietnamese lessons. Not a huge mistake, but lazy. And yup, it was a lot easier to get the Thai answers but the vocabulary was sometimes different from what would be common usage.

On to Hebrew. Much clearer photos. While there are still Orientals in some of the images, there are more Caucasians, and even a black kid. The dogs and cats are prettier and the photography is better. The woman saying the sentences needs to work on her diction. Again, some of the words would be my second choice, but I'm not as up on Hebrew vocabulary as I am on Thai.

So, bottom line, I don't think this is the way to learn a new language. I do think it is a good study tool to use while taking classes, though. Better than high school language lab was, where the only words I still remember are "gehen wir jetzt zu hause", "augenblik" and "Copyright Harcourt, Brace and World, Incorporated. Under applicable federal law this tape may not be duplicated without the express written permission of the publisher."


to frankwu for snagging another Hugo, to johnnyeponymous for being nominated for two, and to Steven Moffat for winning for his excellent Dr. Who episode, Girl In The Fireplace.

I think the  2007 trophy 2007 trophy deserves an award too.

It's Free!

Thanks to yourbob for the clue - looked on the Mountain View library site and found this:
To Get a Free Library Card You Will Need:

Library cards are free to all California residents. To obtain a Library card, current photo identification with current address is required. If the photo ID does not have a current address, a second piece of identification with current address is required.

Temporary cards are issued to customers who reside outside California.The card is valid only for the period of time that the cardholder stays locally.To obtain the card, current picture identification with current permanent address is required.

Library card applications are available online and at the Library. Registration is completed at the Circulation Desk or on the Mobile Library.

Library cards are issued only upon verification of current address.



There is no Sunday Night Football tonight. Boo, hiss. So I'm at Starbucks, enjoying the air conditioning, a condition my apartment is minus. Spent the morning wasting time, and the afternoon at an alleged BBQ. There was only enough food for a hamburger or hot dog each, and very sparse sides - who puts broccoli in pasta salad? Exterminate!  Exterminate! And a couple of slices of watermelon. Small slices. Okay, it was free, but still. Did spend a lot of time in the pool, which was better than free food anyway. Some very pretty bottoms floated by on rafts, which would have been better than free food if they had been attached to available bodies. Sigh.

Much eye candy at Starbucks, though. The Pear Ave branch is a magnet. Used to be the El Camino @ Monte Vista was, but lately the pickings have been obese. And old. Like me. :-(

Started the day at Magnusen Toyota, was shown the Costco price for a 2008 Corolla LE - $200 over invoice, but they gave me the most amazing BS about my trade-in that I stomped out in a huff. The idiot salescreature had the audacity to say that the new paint job decreased the value of the car, and offered the same usurious $2k as Sunnyvale Toyota did before it was painted. After showing me that low trade-in bluebook was $3800. Sheesh.

I am thinking that one car = 3 trips to Thailand. Or 2 trips to Thailand + 2 trips to the UK. The car works fine, why buy a new one? I think I'll drive it till it dies. But first I think I'll look into consignment or "cash for used cars" places.

Plans for tomorrow:
Maybe go to the movies for matinée, except I don't think there's anything playing I want to see in the theaters.
Go swimming
Bike? Nah, too hot.
Relax. Yeah, that sounds good. Domino has become a lot more affectionate lately, and it's no longer rare for her to sit on the left arm of the easy chair while Pumpkin commandeers the right arm. Makes it tough to reach the remote, but I'm willing to suffer.