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Archive for April, 2007

It’s amazing how fast time goes by. Last night was Daniel’s birthday party… again. It’s looking like this really will be the last one he spends in Taiwan.
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I’ve been extremely lazy in working on the layout and presentation of this site, as regular readers can surely tell. The banner image that used to be at the top of this site was just the default image from the Wuhan theme, plus some text. It sucked.

In fact, it sucked so bad that one reader took it upon himself to design me a better one. He used the picture I took of the Starbucks inside the Forbidden City in Beijing last summer. Thanks, Wally!

This is a recent test used in England:
a diagnostic math test for first year university students in England
Royal Society of Chemistry

Here’s a Chinese math test:
a math question from a Chinese college entrance test
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Those who have been checking my blog over the last few days have probably noticed a lot of down-time. I’m completely to blame.

This is a long, boring post. For those who don’t want to read it, here are the key points:

  • ANHost is fast.
  • Their tech support didn’t impress me.
  • My blog is a fairly complex and custom-made WP theme. Their system couldn’t handle it well.
  • Some less-customized blogs run extremely well on ANHost.
  • Dream Host is still the best choice for me.

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Last night, I went to The Beer Factory for the first time. It’s near the intersection of Bādé lù and Jiànguó nánlù. The place was huge, there was good food, and lots of cheap beer. The only downside is that it was all Taiwan Beer. I guess it’s kind of hard to fault them for that, since it’s their factory after all. But, still.
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Last night, I went to Range’s (likemind). Truth be told I thought the name sounded like some creepy sort of cult, but I love meeting up with people and socializing, so I was really psyched about it. The location they picked was a bit far from me- in Banqiao, 13 stops down the subway line away from where I work. Also, they all wanted to meet up about half an hour before I got off work. Still, Range said it would go late, until at least 2am or so, so I thought it would be worth it.
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Ever since I visited the Chinese Pod office last summer, I’d been meaning to really put in some time listening to their podcasts. Unfortunately, one thing came up after another- I changed jobs, I moved twice, Martin and I got really into watching DS9, etc… It wasn’t until this last couple of weeks that I actually bought an MP3 player and started listening to multiple CPods every day.
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Since regaining my motivation to learn languages a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been trying out some of the methods from Barry Farber’s text, How to Learn any Language.

There are several components in Farber’s system, but the one that has helped me the most is the use of what he calls “hidden moments”. The idea is nothing new, but I’ve found it incredibly effective. The premise is simple. Forget all of those over hyped language programs claiming that you can learn a language in 20 minutes a day. It’s just not that simple. Learning a language is a gigantic undertaking and it takes time. The trick, is to free up time you didn’t know you had. continue reading…

The Romajinator is a simple tool that converts Japanese Katakana into romaji, i.e., roman characters. Most western students of Japanese will have little use for this tool, since katakana words are about the easiest Japanese there is to read for native English speakers. However, for students of Chinese, it’s the opposite. Kanji is pretty easy to understand, but katakana is pretty alien. Since the vast majority of katakana words are actually loan words from English, they’re often easy to guess… once they’re converted into romaji.

Examples

サラリーマン   ->   sararīman  -> "salary" man
コンピュータ   ->   konpyūta   ->  computer
サイエンス     ->   saiensu    ->  science
プロジェクト   ->   purojekuto ->  project
メソッド       ->   mesoddo    ->  method

Pronunciation

Most romaji vowels are pronounced fairly similarly to pinyin vowels. The big exception is the “e”. It’s pronounced fairly similarly to a “short e” in English. The “o” sounds somewhat like an English “long o”. Vowels with a macron bar over them are drawn out for a longer period of time. Doubled consonants represent a pause before the consonant. For example “setto” would sound like “se”, followed by a pause, and then “toe”.

The above is obviously a very rouge guide. For a more accurate idea of what words sound like, I recommend the Wikimedia Commons: Japanese pronunciation page.

In a jobs that involve a lot of interaction with the public, such as teaching, having employees express political views online can be a liability. On the other hand, many employees would resent having a boss tell them what they can and cannot talk about on their own time.

Is censoring employees' political views on their blogs reasonable?

  • No. Their lives outside of the office are their lives. As long as they don't divulge comapny secrets, it isn't the company's business. (40%, 6 Votes)
  • While I would never ask an employee to stop blogging, I would terminate his butt if his public views were so objectionable to me that they might hurt my business. (33%, 5 Votes)
  • Censorship would only be reasonable in extreme cases. (20%, 3 Votes)
  • Yes. Politics are too sensitive to risk having employees alienate customers. (7%, 1 Votes)
  • Absolutely. I'm the one who pays the bills. If they work for me, I can censor their blogs however I please. (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 15

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