Posts Tagged ‘Technology’

Hola!

Screenshot of the menubar

Screenshot of the duolingo menubar

Learning a new language opens up a new world. I read somewhere that the best time to learn a language is during childhood. However, I believe it is never too late to explore your language learning abilities. With this in mind, I have some interesting stories and insights to share. This is not just my attempt to learn hindi, then the so called national language but also a way, I discovered, out to learn any language. (FYI, India has no national language)

Back in those days, all the school going kids take up learning hindi in private classes as their hobby because of the parental pressure or maybe whatever. Passing through the levels such as Prathmic, Madhyama, Rashrabhasha, Pravesika, etc, you can finally acquire a BA (? I still doubt that but never cared to verify it) in Hindi. Regardless of the degree, I have seen how passing those exams are a matter of pride. I believe that a good institution and a right motivation can help in really learning hindi through those set of levels. I do know many people who are skilled in Hindi through this way of learning. However, I should also not deny the fact that so many people simply copy the text books and pass the exams only to get a certificate and advance to the next level. Obviously, nobody can see the point in that. After all, why do you want to ‘learn’ a language like that? I have been a ‘good’ student at school as I usually get into some top ranks.

Photo from Dewey’s Treehouse Blog

Until 8th grade, I was going to Hindi tuition yet learned for the sake of ..(well, I really can’t figure out that). Unlike my elder sister (Oh, she is always good at studies), I did not learn Hindi well enough to complete. I do not even care to which level I have my certificates.  😀 By saying so, it would be so unfair if I say I learnt nothing. It is only because of those private classes; I can read and write in Hindi and also converse a little (a little).

While my years in Bangladesh, I realize how I am capable of learning a new language. Again, I had to take up few Bangla classes but those are mostly to help us survive outside our university. It was a good start yet the real learning came from the environment around.  It was not only those Bangladeshi friends, but also the news channels from the neighbouring apartment, ricksaw wallahs (with whom we pretend that we are Bangladeshis too), shopkeepers, strangers on the road, field trip experiences, etc (sigh!) are the factors that contributed much to my Bangla. Eventually, I was able to go anywhere and get things done with my Bangla speaking skills. Although I did not learn enough to read and write the language, I am so glad to learn Bangla that always sounds sweet (now a lot nostalgic) to me. (sigh!!)

Bangla Letter. Photo from onkur.sourceforge.net

Yes, there were several moments that gradually taught me the way I can learn a language. Those self realization moments helped me understand myself better and accept the way I learn things. I think it’s by living with the people, one can learn not just the grammar but the funs intended with the words, phrases and intonations! I can feel I am among them. I am never offended or bored when people around me talk in their mother tongue that is not mine. There is nothing more intriguing to guess the meanings and assume what it is about. (Definitely, not eavesdropping!).

green bird

Screenshot of Duolingo logo

While my bangla learning happens naturally, I came across this initiation to teach foreign languages. That is duolingo with a green bird as its logo. If you think, learning, especially language, should be fun, then, duolingo is for you. I have known their work since their inception. Serving as a great example for edutainment, duolingo is absolutely free and is available as mobile applications. “Practice makes a (wo)man perfect” – how true! But, really, how many of us are bored to do our routines? Well, duolingo has implemented several techniques that can keep you inspired everyday to practice your language. It provides you a virtual environment where you can hear, speak, read and write the language. Awesome! Isn’t it? Also, you can earn and invest lingots into lessons that can teach you idioms, and flirting. 😀

Just as any other websites, duolingo requires a signup and that can be done ‘manually’ using your e-mail account or ‘automatically’ using your facebook or google plus login details. Although the latter method is not highly recommended when speaking of cyber crime prevention techniques, it helps you to find your friends who also use duolingo. As the whole purpose of the duolingo is for learning, it only allows you to follow your friend to get updates about her progress and, I guess, comment. After you sign in, you can choose the language that you want to study and the language through which you want to study.

duolingo leaderboard

Screenshot of your progress along with your friends in duolingo.

A set of lessons appear that you can start with. As you complete the basic lessons, new lessons will be made accessible for you. If you already knew the language and just want to check yourself and learn more, there are some test outs in between those lessons. If you complete those tests, you need not go through each and every lesson to unlock new ones. Once you complete the set of lessons for a topic, your strength bar will be full. However, as you learn your new lessons on different topics, with certain time lapse, the strength bars in some of the previous lessons will decrease. Definitely, there are a lot of logical thinking and programming skills going behind this technique. You may occasionally deal with fulfilling the strength bars in the old topics or you may simply move forward.

I can remember that I have used this app some years ago but only twice until April 2015. As much I know the importance of this app, I have also been lazy in practicing. The good news is that I have figured out my routine and I am on it now. Therefore, I use duolingo more regularly. I am not a fan of any virtual games (online/video games). And, competing with others is also not my way of getting inspiration to learn. Yet, I love to see my progress and achieve my vision.

duolingo dailygoal

Screenshot of my progress on daily goal

According to duolingo, I have reached level 9 of Spanish lessons and acquired 36% fluency in the language. Can’t wait to attain 50% by the end of 2015! I have set my daily goal as only 10XPs which can be earned with the completion of just one lesson or by strengthening once in an already learnt lesson. When I get more than a week of holidays, I planned to set my daily goal as 50 XPs. Although these past two months were my vacation, the real challenge is the upcoming months. I would like to stick with 10XPs everyday as it is attainable in few minutes, increases my streaks, thus, keeping me an everyday Spanish learner.

duolingo my profile

Screenshot of my profile in duolingo

5 out of 5 stars to Duolingo.com. Therefore, if you think you are someone who can only learn a language in its environment, then go and Duolingo! I would love you read your replies to this post if you have something or anything to say! Also, if you have any suggestions for websites similar to duolingo, I would love to try it out.

Muchas Gracias!

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Introduced in December 2009, Angry Birds is one of most famous games in the market. Started with Apple, it gradually  got spread to many smartphones with different Operating Systems. It is basically a slingshot game developed by Rovio a computer game developing company based in Finland. Now, Angry Birds can be played in laptops/desktops either online or offline. The huge success of this game within few years of its release depends on many factors such as

1. A Simple yet  different idea of using birds in slingshot to kill enemies

2. The idea of physics in various levels to increase the game complexities

3. Use of different destructive methods that are unique for each differently colored birds

4. Different settings of the game

Angry Birds Stickers

Angry Birds stickers on Laptop – Photo by me

Usually a slingshot uses a round stone that is aimed at something that needs to be  damaged.  The absence of legs and wings, and shortened tails in the birds make it look like a round stone that are aimed at the round pigs/pig heads. The goal is to destruct all the pigs and most of its fort. Destructing each materials that forms a fort for the pigs gives the player some point but to move to a next level one has to destroy all the pigs heads. In order to score more, minimum number of birds(1), should be used to destruct all the pigs. This game is based on a revenge story. The dirty pigs stole and hid the birds’ eggs somewhere which is the main reason for the anger. Therefore, the birds started to retaliate the pigs by blast them to death.

One of my friend posted me a photo in Facebook which shows a physics question that is about  playing angry birds. The game can be played just by randomly shooting the bird or with the help of one’s knowledge in physics or ‘common sense’.

A Physics Question based on “Angry Birds” – Photo from a Facebook post

Depending on the angle at which the bird is projected , the distance between the bird and the pig heads and position of the bird from the target, one can successfully target all the pig heads in one shot. It might need luck to some extent but with the above mentioned three accurate  factors, one could easily get a high score in all levels. Although the whole structure of playing the game can be based on physics, I would say it is more about ‘common sense’ .  The players do not necessarily calculate the angle for a successful projectile but  the angle is usually guessed with the picture. The game also shows the previous path of travel with some kind of dotted line which probably helps the players to adjust or maintain their shooting.  When the level increases, the concept of aiming the birds also gets more difficult. All one needs to think is how to aim one bird in a way that it destructs all the pig heads.

Arrow indicating the right place to hit for destroying all pigheads in one shot

The most interesting parts as we move up in the levels is that the power of different birds to destruct the pig fort.

Very common red:

Red birds are the usual starter for this game possessing no special powers comparing to the others. It simply hits the pig head fort as the player direct it.

Scatter-shot Blue:

Smaller blue birds are able to replicate itself into same kind of three new birds when tapped on the way of its flight. Their scattered nature during any time of their flight helps the player to attack multiple places of the pig fort.

Mighty Yellow:

Similar to the blue, it can be tapped during its flight but it does not replicate rather it accelerates and attacks with some extra force.  Moreover, yellow is good at penetrating the woods.

Bombarding Black:

Black, with a typical look of a bomb, are able to blast the iron rods when it is tapped as soon as it enters the fort. Tapping a black on the way will do no good.

Egg-Attack White:

The white birds lay eggs when tapped during the flight. This function helps to attack more than one place like the blue birds.

Fluctuating Green:

The green bird is the most difficult bird to handle as it changes its angle .

Bigger Red:

The Bigger red posses 3 times the power of the usual red in the beginning. It was also called as the big brother.

Mightiest Eagle:

The tremendous power of eagle destroys almost everything in the attack area in one fly.

Handling different birds also requires the players to plan for the projectile and also some trials to get better scores. This game also has different versions that take place in different environment. For example, in Angry Birds Space, the pig has hid the eggs in outer space therefore the game is set in the galaxy without the effect of gravity.

Snapshot of Angry birds in Chrome

The important thing to note about this angry birds game is that the birds, objects that represent the players, are self destructive.  In most of the other virtual games, we used to have extra lives in case if we loose a life by mistake which usually happens during the difficult tasks. Those games were not primarily forcing the players to loose the life of their objects. Even though the players receive higher score for saving more number of birds, there is a rule to self destruct at least one of those birds to play/win the game. May be, we would get used to see cute little birds dying for no reasons!!

Questions to think:

Why an object, that in real world has no life,  is not used to kill the pig heads?

Why should the birds kill itself to take revenge of the pigs?

Will there be any impact of the self-destructive characters on the players?

If so, can it be quantified? will it be a small or big impact?

If it is a big impact, how long will it take to see some obvious results?

Whenever you use a bird, no matter whether it succeeds or fails, it gets damaged by the woods, stones and the glasses and finally blasts to death.  One can see how pathetically a bird dies with an excellent graphical works!! (Kudos to the developers). I think more research needs to be done on the  psychological impacts of virtual games before we try to give some possible answers to the above mentioned questions. Therefore, these self-destructing angry birds may not have an adverse effect psychologically but will definitely have some level of impact on how we perceive things in future.

Second question reminds me of an important and useful philosophical view point of Kim Gaskin in Are You An Angry Bird? Kims says,

“Out of pure anger, these birds sacrifice themselves to win. Have you ever sacrificed yourself to win? At what cost? We all have angry moments. Anger is a normal emotion that can get out of control and become destructive. Stimulated by internal or external events, anger can affect your work, relationships, health and quality of life.”

BlogPingTool.com

I am Kandi. I and Ben were the only two persons in that strange island both representing female and male genders respectively. When I thought of going to an island, I imagined it to be densely forested with many wild animals and birds and surrounded by turquoise blue ocean. To my dismay, all I could see in the island was either in red or black in color. There were bare trees that were all rooted on floating grounds. Occasionally, a bird flew over those grounds that did no harm to me. As soon as I entered, I started running as if someone was chasing me for no reason. I couldn’t turn back… I couldn’t stop…neither could I cry for help from Ben for he did not  exist in my world. All I was able to do is to jump from one floating ground to the other thus trying to save myself from falling down. I jumped, double jumped as I has an athlete body with a normal speed to run endlessly. My speed increased suddenly to which I was not able to jump quickly on time. To all my bad luck, I encountered a big ground and fell down to death. I gasped lying back on my chair and I sighed!!!!

It was Island Runner! – A game similar to temple run in which I spent hours jumping, sliding down, turning left/right and also collecting coins on the way. I am not a game addict in case if you misunderstood me as one because its always been easy for me to control myself from playing games. Having said that, I also go very deeply into a game environment once I start to play it – I think, it is true for anyone who plays games of this kind.

Snapshot of “Island Runner” in free-games.net

Games have been one of the best entertaining activities for centuries although it is an important tool in education field as well. The definitions of games have been changing as new concepts, technology and demand for more fun and entertainment grows. The very basic definitions of games from the few dictionaries such as dictionary.com and Oxford are as follows. According to dictionary.com, game is “a competitive activity involving skill, chance, or endurance on the part of two or more persons who play according to a set of rules, usually for their own amusement or for that of spectators”. We can accept this as a classic definition of game(s) to some extent. Competition among players is one of the driving forces for achievements in games. Generally, the one who gains higher scores are the better players. In temple run or island runner, it is not a competition between two or more persons. There is only one player who overcomes certain obstacles to gain high scores. Therefore, we could say that the player is competitive to his/her previous scores unless he/she literally compares with his/her friend who sits besides playing the same game in a different device and tries to improve her score. According to Oxford dictionaries, game is “an activity or a sport with rules in which people or teams compete against each other”. This definition includes sport as a game but sport needs more physical activity than games with an agreed set of rules. For example, Pong was one of the earliest unreal tennis games in history. It includes the idea of sport within it although it requires less physical effort. Researches about the emerging dimensions of games have provided specific and inclusive definitions. David Kelley in 1988 has defined game as a form of recreation with a set of rules that mentions some objects and the way to achieve those objects. His definition is based on the ultimate goal of playing which is to achieve something. Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman in 2003, has stated that a game is a system in which players work on an artificial conflict with set of rules and give out a quantifiable outcome. Therefore, we can say game is an activity that engages one or more players with a set of rules and challenges to accomplish certain tasks in a real or unreal setting. This is a limited definition because the purpose and tools of games are not discussed.

Snap shot of “Pong” in ponggame.org

Games have evolved: from reality to virtual. Reality (or real) games have a tangible and natural environment whereas ‘virtual games’ have intangible and artificial environment. Virtual games include both video and online games. Video games or console games needs consoles that need to be connected to the television set and can be played using controller(s). Online games need laptops, computers or any other similar devices with memory to install games through internet. Unlike video games, they do not need consoles or handling devices and hence use the keyboard, screen, joystick or mouse to interact. In video and online games, the gaming environment is created based on any computer programming thus making it unreal or virtual. Be it a carom board or cricket bat that serves as a usual tool for those respective non-electronic games, it is replaced by monitors or keyboards in electronic games. In the previous example of having tennis game pong consists only two objects representing a bat and ball. The bat just needs to be moved using arrow keys to throw the ball to the opponent. This was a game only used to run on TV, however, we now have those games on internet as well. It is very easy to distinguish a game that is in the real world or in a virtual world. What is important is that virtual games consist of video and online games and the changes from classic to virtual games are evolutionary rather than a complete shift.

BlogPingTool.com