6.09.2006

Flashcards and My New Toy

So. First, an announcement: I’ve decided to start making flashcards (well, not really flashcards as much as “crash course survival phrases that can fit on one 4x6 index card”) in 32 languages, or what were 32 languages last I counted: The phrases come from here, and the “incomplete,” ones that don’t have the selected phrases I’ve decided on using (about twelve of them) I’ll get from somewhere else, and the languages are (in alphabetical order): Arabic, Bambara, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Burmese, Estonian, Filipino, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hausa, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Japanese, Kannada, Korean, Laotian, Malayalam, Nepali, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Thai, Turkish, Urdu, and Vietnamese.

The only issue is, I have JUST enough room right now to be able to get in everything I need to have in, plus a few lines for notes. The cards are in two columns with some empty lines at the bottom of the right-hand column for extra stuff, if I come along something notable. Here’s the thing: for languages I cannot read (yet), like Hindi, Japanese, Burmese, Laotian, and other Indian or Asian languages, or other languages that don’t use our alphabet (with the exception of Slavic languages, because I can read those) I have got to figure out how to incorporate room for a phonetic spelling in the Roman alphabet. So that’s in the works, but I’ve got seven or eight of them saved on the compy already.

More about my new toy: first the bad. It crashed on me once, but that was a quick fix. It also wouldn’t turn off one time, and I just had to hit the reset button to restart it; when this happens, it takes a good five minutes to reboot and “recover,” just like your computer scans the hard drive for errors or such, so that was a little irritating. You also can’t use the device when it’s plugged into the USB, which is inconvenient, but not enough to be severely important. Also, there’s a dongle that plugs into the bottom of the device that allows a place for the charger, the USB cord, and an A/V out cord to plug in. I haven’t checked to see if these are available individually, but it would be nice to have one at my desktop, one in my room, and one at the stereo so I didn’t have to keep up with it, although the A/V out I haven’t used yet… So those are some irritations.

The screen is remarkably clear. It seems nearly absurd to watch a movie, a clip, a downloaded episode of your favorite television show, or anything else, for that matter, on something the size of a cassette tape with a screen that’s even smaller, but it become highly reasonable when you see it. It’s also not one of those really soft screens like for your monitor, and since it’s not a touchscreen, it’s not horribly sensitive to pressure. It seems far more sturdy (I just realized Italian isn’t on my list of languages; make that 33 unless I take out German, which I’ll explain later) than most other device screens. I’m told it scratches easily, though, but I haven’t noticed that yet, probably because I haven’t taken of that plasticky rubberish screen cover that comes on most cell phones and alarm clocks and things. I figure I’ll do that if I decide to keep it (and I am, but just for good measure, they can’t say I damaged it if I freakishly decide I don’t like it). I like the FM tuner/recorder for OBVIOUS reasons. Even though I don’t listen to the radio, the recorder feature is super duper for some talk shows or things on NPR or whatever that are worth listening to. Oh, it’s a little hard to use with one hand, unlike the Karma, and it may be easier to use with smaller hands, but it’s a little awkward for me to get my thumb to the scroll bar with it in the palm of my hand without dropping it. The clarity, I think, is as good as most anything I’ve heard without being live, or on a CD. The picture functions are actually pretty sweet: rotate, zoom, set as wallpaper, as well as creating slideshows to music (a function that has to be done on the computer). There are also a lot (from the little bit that I’ve looked) of coolish clips, cases, and thingys for this device, like one for the iPod, a carrying case, but also a hard case with a kickstand to set on the tray table (or office desk) while you watch a video, so you don’t have to hold it the entire time, instead of hovering over it lying flat. It also fits perfectly into the leather holster for my PalmTreo®, and the headphone jack matches perfectly with the hole where the earpiece is supposed to go thru to the bottom of the phone, so I’ve been using that until I get around to getting one for this (if I decide to). The buttons aren’t super sensitive, so they don’t get mashed by accident (except for the scroll bar, which I’ve already mentioned is moody and takes some getting used to). It’s sleek and fits comfortably into every pocket I’ve put it into (except for the teeny tiny one inside the right pocket of every pair of jeans. You know: the one that’s only good for a stick of chapstick, or that you can’t get the quarter out of the bottom of? Yeah, that one), so it’s easily tote-able. I love it.

7 comments:

Affable Olive said...

This has all helped, but I think I need to know technical stuff because I don't understand the basic stuff like "kbps." I need basic definitions of that kind of stuff. Like GB and MB- I kinda know what those are, but I'm lost. I may not be as lost as I think, but until I understand the very basic stuff, I don't think I'll be able to decide what I want. Like in your last post where you mentioned 300 something-or-anothers, I had no clue what that was. All I know is I want it to play video so that I can watch the best show on Thursday nights. And if I'm the only one intrested in MP3 stuff, you can just e-mail me.

Horse N. Buggy said...

Details are hard to give because so much depends on how you record things. For example, (forgive me if this is too basic) audio is broken down into speech and music. Audio quality and file size depend on the type of file format you choose to use and the bitrate at which you record the file.

MP3 is a "lossy" format meaning that you can significantly reduce the size of the file by sacraficing quality. The amount of quality you sacrafice depends on the bitrate at which you "rip" (record/create) the file. Speeech doesn't need as high quality as music - you can probably get away with 64 KHz. A music purist (read: snob) like yourself would want to be way above that for music - at least 128 KHz, probably more like 192 KHz.

Based on those standards, your music MP3 files will be larger than speech only files of the same length. How many MP3s you can fit on a device then depends on how large your ...

and I ran out of time while writing this. TAG - someone else is it.

The Polyglot said...

depends on how large your...

files are. To say you can fit X many ice cubes in a pitcher is arbitrary until you have them as defined units, right? So when a product manufacturer states X many songs, you have to read the fine print to determine WHAT file type, and WHAT bitrate they're at. It's too bad to realize that many of the MP3's I've downloaded (free stuff from concerts or whatever) are at like 350 kpbs, which means that even a small file of only a few minutes can be gynormously large, much larger than a file twice it's size at a lower bitrate. I've downloaded a bitrate converter, but i don't trust it much: it was free, and it takes a long time. Is there a better way to do this besides burning them ALL to CD and changing the bitrate at which they're ripped? Anyway, the ice cubes thing is dumb, but gets the point across.

Horse N. Buggy said...

The ice cube illustration is perfect! Ice cubes come in all shapes and sizes. For the purpose of the illustration we will just ignore the fact that they melt.

Another difference between speech and music is that songs typically only average between 3-6 minutes in duration. Speech files like podcasts have no specific average. I have some podcasts that are no longer than 2 minutes each, but I also have one that clocks in at 2 full hours per episode.

Here are my stats.

Total files in iTunes (all MP3):
736, 6.51 GB

Music - 553, 4.72 GB
482 songs ripped at 320 (wow)

Podcasts - 183, 1.79 GB
range from 24 to 160 (I don't hear the difference in any of them)

Horse N. Buggy said...

Biggest File -
Eskimo (I'm gonna cry) - 36.9 MB, 16 minutes long

Biggest Podcast File -
Whad'ya Know (the episode I was on) - 27 MB, 1:58:11 long

Smallest File -
Jeff Buckley kibbitzing during a live show - 349 KB, 8 seconds (yes, 8 seconds of Jeff Buckley talking is a whole file in my library, it's track 9 on the disc)

Smallest Podcast -
Frommer's Jet Blue episode - 407 KB, 50 seconds (the man talks way too fast)

Smallest Actual Song File -
Last Chancce by Jet - 880 KB, 1:52, 64 kbps bitrate

Affable Olive said...

I think I've got it now. Something I need to do now is figure out how much music I have on CDs (I do very little downloading- I maybe have 5/6 songs). Also i know I'd want them all ripped as .wma,(since I'm a music snob) and from that I think I'm gonna need one with tons of space because everything I already have on the compy is at 128kbps. Ice cubes do get the point across, poly. Thanks for all the enlightening. Maybe I'll be able to pick one out now.

The Polyglot said...

My turn for largest and smallest files:

Speech:

Largest: District Convention talk from a few years ago, given by GB member- 1:09- 55 MB @ 112kpbs

Smallest: Interview tidbit- 0:29- 464k @ 128 kbps

Music:

Largest: Robert Strauss' "Also Sprach Zarathustra (ya know, from 2001: A Space Odyssey) 33:22- 46MB @ 192 kbps

Smallest: Introduction track to Lizzie West's "Holy Road: Freedom Songs," album 0:39- 317K @ 64 kbps

A new MP3 player: Priceless