Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year and a Complete Plan

The New Year is always a time for resolutions.
Today I got to thinking of next year. As you may know I have recently begun a Master's degree.  My first resolution for next year was to plan out my courses. I need to take 9 more.

This morning was spent planning out what classes I have organized to take so far and then what classes I need to take to complete. I have now completed the plan and scheduled my time for the next fourteen months.

Yes, it will take fourteen months of formal classes at least to finish all classes, my scheduled final class is a thesis class which runs for two months December 2012 to February 2, 2013. I then have up to one year to complete my final thesis paper.

It seems a long time, but experience tells me that it will fly by. It does include three rest months, March, July and November. These are months when no really interesting classes appeared or where I have planned other things. For instance July is my wife's birthday so may do something that month.

Taking classes is all about planning really, a little like running a Marathon. Pacing is important, sprinting the first few hundred yards does no good but sprinting the last fifty yards can win you the race.

National University doesn't leave much pause between normal classes. As one ends on Saturday the next begins Monday. That is the reason for my choosing three months of work with a one month break.  Even those breaks are filled with work, I have to scan books, begin some readings, and look for ideas for each classes final paper.

My experience last month showed holes in my time management, mostly due to underestimating reading times. A twenty page chapter could take an hour, but some chapters were sixty pages long and I only allowed ten hours to read three or four chapters. Not enough. So long nights ensued as I posted late into the evening.

The next class begins January 9, 2012. Modern China. I am really looking forward to that. Loved the class in my Bachelors class.

Among my other classes are US history, Modern Middle East, Modern Africa  and Modern Europe. Also there are three theory classes on historiography (how and why history is written as it is, theories and ideas of historians from Ancient Greece to today.) then research and planning completed by the Thesis class that I mentioned earlier.

So with New Year almost here, at least I have one New Year's Resolution fulfilled. It feels good to have that done. Now to plan on losing weigght and saving more money.  The perennial broken promises to myself which rarely pass muster by mid January.

That is probably it for 2011. 

Happy New Year Everyone. All the best and Prosperity to you all!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Intel Reader Tip

While using my Intel Reader the other day I was scanning a rather thick book for my upcoming Modern China class.

At over 600 pages the book wouldn't lay flat on my scanning stand. This led to the left hand side page having a lot of distortions in the analysed text.

To cut down on this problem I placed four or five thin paperback books between the front cover of the book and the bed of the scanner stand. This made the book relatively flat for my Intel Reader to see the pages.

It worked really well. There were then very few distortions and missed readings of the text.

Another tip: Scanning appears to take about 10% of battery power for every twenty pages of text. Scan individual chapters in a book and allow the reader to process each one before proceeding to the next. This makes the process much faster than scanning several chapters at once, plus it makes finding particular chapters easier to find if they are saved as individual stored data files.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas Everyone

The presents are ordered and being tracked on UPS, FedEx and USPS, though that tracking number doesn't work. So all that is left to do is sit and wait.

I finished my first class towards my Master's degree this week. Four weeks of scanning, reading my Kindle (having it read to me more like) writing papers (My final paper was on the history of the coffee house in the Islamic world and England up until the beginning of the Eighteenth Century) anyway with half the grades marked so far it looks good, an "A".

My home is bare this year, can you believe I forgot to get a Christmas Tree!

The time for looking back over the year is passing. A good finish to my Bachelors degree, a try at a new job failed, the death of  an old friend. Starting my next step towards a better education. For next Year? More school, It looks good to complete my Master's almost a year earlier than planned. If I do one class per month and break in March and July I can finish formal classes in November. The break in March and July are for vacations.

I would love to visit the Perogi Festival in Whiting/Hammond, Indiana my wife's family are Polish and are amazed that I might want to try a perogi, don't know why. I come from the land that gave the world the Cornish Pasty, a perogi by any other name would taste as good! :)

Failing Indiana, maybe Washington and Canada may be an alternate. Having a US passport these days would make the travel to the country up North much easier than in the past with my reams of Resident papers. Plus I have never been to Canada. Plus a visit to Washington State would mean revisiting Seattle, a very pretty city. I also would have to go and pay homage to the first Starbucks. I missed it though I visited Pike's Place Market in 2002, just hadn't heard of Starbuck's in those days.

As a final word, Merry Christmas everyone. Thank you for your support reading my posts over the past few months. All the best for the New Year to you all.

Friday, December 16, 2011

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

We are almost there. Christmas! But there is a fly in my ointment. I have not bought one present as yet, with only one week to go! HELP!

No this is not a plea for money, the help request is purely rhetorical and an expression of frustration.

This will be the first Christmas for years where I was not prepared by the end of August, presents bought or planned, cards at the ready and my own list for Santa e-mailed to the North Pole, ok exaggeration there. :)

This year my first one as severely visually impaired I have succombed to my wife's "It'll get done." Philosophy.

Living in a small town with few stores, Christmas shopping means either going online or going to a big town. Online I am wary of these days after having a credit card wiped out buying from a small store on the East Coast, I got what I wanted, a nice coin set, someone at that online store got what they wanted, $1,500 of Macy's store credit on my credit card! So for me gift shopping went to Amazon or Barnes and Noble long ago.

The problem is you have to really know what you are looking to buy, I do anyway, sometimes that instant rush of Perfect Gift only came with browsing a store. Now can I go to a store? Not easily without my wife. She has to drive afterall.

She is also not one to let me browse in peace, not that I can do that much anyway, Excuse me am I in PetSmart or Victoria's Secret?

How on earth do you buy someone a surprise gift if you cannot have some private time to just do what needs to be done. That is my frustration. So am I doomed to point my mouse to Amazon this year. Is my wife to get a cook book? Hey doesn't Victoria's Secret have a nice website?

Where's my delete history button gone?   :)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My stupid smart phone

Well I did it!

I went out and got a new phone, quite nice, smart phone with android operating system. I can download all sorts of fantastic apps, my phone will even tell me what the weather is like outside the window without me having to strain my neck to look out the window.

One of the great setting features the sales assistant was willing to show me was that I could even send text messages by talking into the telephone.  WOW!  Whatever next!  DoYou  mean that I can just talk into this thing and send the message ?


 Well Someon was born yesterday,

 The phone was free because I signed a two-year contract.   All set-up I went home and charged the battery overnight and the next day I attempted to send a text.

 The smartphone buttons on the screen are small and my fingers are large. So  I attempted
to press the  button which I can hardly see anyway. I pressed  several  others which I  hadn't intended.

 there is a solution it turns out turn the phone onto its side which  did make the screen expand and the buttons larger.

 So I get To be able to press the right button.  Now I speak into the microphone and  send a meaningful  message to my wife  I say, "A new day in history has dawned. I can text again . "

 The Message she received was a little different, " You redneck, back texting now." I think smartphones have long way to go before I will not see them as being  dumb, dumb, dumb.

If you get some weird text message it may be just a poor fool like me who believed the sales hype and got themselves a dumb smartphone.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dragon NaturallySpeaking: the speech recognition software for your computer

Recently you may have seen commercials on TV for Dragon Naturally Speaking Software.

I use Dragon NaturallySpeaking version 11.5  myself. I have used Dragon on and off  for several years now . Version 11.5 is  far better than the early versions which I used in college five or so years ago to help me write my papers for my   Associate of Arts degree . in those days I used to spend most of my time correcting it's many mistakes.

Today I'm using the latest version to help me work on my Masters degree in history . Dragon NaturallySpeaking works very well and my typing speed has risen from about 250 words  per hour to about 1000 words per  hour.  Dragon does need some learning time , it is estimated it takes about three months for Dragon to learn your individual speech  patterns but the more you use Dragon the faster the system can update and learn how you normally speak .

This whole article has been written  using Dragon NaturallySpeaking and it took me about 5 min. to Complete.

 Dragon NaturallySpeaking is actually one of the few items which I, today, would say I cannot do without . I can use it to write my papers, surf the internet write e-mail and also make notes for my classes.


The latest versions of Dragon NaturallySpeaking come in several language variations including Spanish.  There are alsoseveral levels of complexity from the home use edition to student and professional editions. 

 Prices vary from $79 upwards for the basic level to about $400 for professional levels of the software.

 If you Use your computer  often then investing in Dragon NaturallySpeaking software may be something worth considering.