Tutorial: Use your DualShock 4 with a Mac

iw4vdsmdppnguodkok3eDuring a Black Friday sale, I bought a blue DualShock 4 for the rather low price of $40 even though I don’t (yet) have a PlayStation 4. This is because I’d played with it extensively at a friend’s house and really liked it. For the best compatibility with games, the better choice might’ve been the Xbox 360 controller, but that’s less compatible with the Macintosh architecture itself, and comes with it’s own set of problems. I knew it’d be a hassle now and then, but I was willing to give the DualShock 4 a shot because of how great it is as a controller (but more of that in a future article). With the right tools, you can even get the DualShock 4 to work with games that don’t natively support it. Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way first though:
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Tutorial: Play Valkyria Chronicles (or any other PC Steam game) on a Mac

1832934-box_valkchrnI’m playing Valkyria Chronicles. On a Mac. With a DualShock 4 controller. I betcha no one’s ever been able to say that before! Yep, Valkyria Chronicles is on sale right now on both Steam and Humble Bundle. I’m only three hours and a couple of missions in at the moment, but if you’re a fan of turn-based RPGs, and/or story-based campaigns, and/or third-person shooting, you really owe it to yourself to try it. It’s like 7 dollars or so, and though it’s only for PC at the moment, you can actually get it to work on a Mac with the help of Wineskin and some patience.
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Tutorial: Start Geocaching

As warmer weather approaches, it’s a great time to get back into the Geocaching mood. For the not-so-many of you out there who don’t know what Geocaching is, it’s sort of an internet treasure hunt in which coordinates are posted online that will lead you to a physical box, often loaded with some trinkets. To start geocaching, all you need is a GPS. (As a side note, you may not even need one, though it will be harder. See this video.) Once you have your GPS, make an account with Geocaching.com. It’s free, but you can get a premium membership for some extra features. Once all that is figured out, you’ll need to locate a cache near your home. If you are using the internet from your house right now, it’s unlikely there won’t be cache within 1 km of where you are. (For example, there are 101 caches within a 5 km radius of our home, which is in a small town not far from a big city.) Choosing a cache for your first find is important. There are difficulty and terrain ratings for every cache, and anything above a 2 for either may be too difficult for a newbie. It’s totally up to you, but you can also click the box labeled ‘Highlight beginner caches’ and the site will suggest caches it thinks is easy for beginners. Once you have chosen a cache, you should print out the cache description. A map with the geocache and its surroundings could also be helpful, especially if you are not using a GPS. If you are, simply type the coordinates onto your GPS, and head off! Finding the actual cache can be tricky, as the cache owner will often put them in devilishly cunning places. Also, most GPS’s are only going to be accurate to about ten feet or so, so you’ll have to rely on intuition to get you the last few yards. This is all part of the game, and Muggles (non-Geocaching folk) could never imagine the excitement and happiness of finding a cache, especially if it took many tries and visits to the cache location, or if it was in a hard-to-reach location. We hope you find this intro to Geocaching helpful and inspiring, but if you need more info, head over to Geocaching.com, where you will find guides and videos on how to find your first Geocache, the rules of the game, and much more!!!

Tutorial: Make Cheese Curds

Although making cheese at home may sound like an extremely difficult task, making basic cheese curds is actually incredibly easy. You don’t need to use exact measurements nor do you need to any obscure instruments to make it.

You will need:

  • Milk
  • Vinegar
  • Salt (optional)
  • Stove
  • Pot
  • Colander
  • Clean cloth
  • Bowl (optional)

Instructions:

  1.  Pour milk into the pot and bring to a boil, stirring constantly
  2. Gradually add vinegar until the milk separates into cheese curds and liquid whey
  3. Separate the cheese curds and whey by placing a cloth over a colander and filtering the contents of the pot through the cloth and colander and into a bowl (or the sink)
  4. Remove the cheese from on top of the cloth and add salt if desired.

Note: If you would like to use the whey you collected in your bowl (as it is quite nutritious) consider visiting this forum.

Links: Getting Started with Shorthand (En français aussi!)

UPDATE July 2015: Nous avons ajouté une section pour la sténographie française que vous trouverez en bas. 

Today, with the advent of computers and pocket recorders, shorthand has largely fallen out of popularity. But there are still some people, like me, who are just interested to find out what this lost art was like to use and have some fun along the way.

English:
If you’re interested in speed, you should probably try writing Pitman. The speed record for Pitman Shorthand is 322 words per minute, though it is probably the most difficult to learn on this list. It requires that some strokes be thicker and thinner, as it was meant to be used with a fountain pen, but the same can be achieved with a pencil and the correct technique. If you are interested here’s a website with all the basic principles, along with loads of links to other courses and websites: Long Live Pitman’s Shorthand!. Or you go straight to the full pdf manual.

Arguably the most popular of all shorthand systems is the Gregg system, at least in North America (the picture above is in Gregg). It does not require thick and thin strokes, nor does it distinguish between strokes on the line or above, so it can be written on blank sheets of paper. It’s also quite unique among shorthand systems by being very rounded and cursive-looking. It is only slightly slower than Pitman, with a record of 282 wpm. There are many versions of Gregg, the hardest and fastest being Pre-Anniversary (1916), and the slowest and easiest being Series 90 (1978). It is recommended that Simplified (1949) be for non-business use, and Anniversary (1929) for court reporters and such, though you can visit this website for in depth descriptions of all the system. Or you can go ahead and download a pdf manual for the 1929 Anniversary version.

Although there are many more systems, the last one I want to talk about here is Teeline. It is much slower than the other systems, but it is much easier to learn. It is very popular with people in the UK, and is used a lot by journalists there. Although it is rarely used above 140 wpm, most people find it adequate for everyday use. I myself have been learning it for about two weeks, and I can do about 30 wpm. Courses can be easily found in the UK, but it is difficult to find a course that teaches it for free online. However, there is an awesome pdf that covers pretty much all the basics.

Français:
J’ai experimenté un peu avec le système Duployé, créé en 1860 par Émile Duployé. Le manuel est ici. C’est un système assez simple à apprendre, mais moi je le trouve un peu laid. Il utilise beaucoup des cercles et des lignes droites, ce qui peut être difficile à garder lisible à haute vitesse. Par contre, c’est un système conçu spécialement pour le français, alors vous y trouverez beaucoup d’abréviations et trucs pour sauver du temps.

La sténographie Gregg était originalement créée pour la langue anglaise en 1888 par John Robert Gregg. C’est le système le plus célébré du monde, mais particulièrement dans les États-Unis (le système Pitman était plutôt utilisé dans le Royaume-Uni). Il y avait beaucoup des adaptations pour des autres langues et, bien que des systèmes originalement français, comme le Duployé, sont plus communs en France, la version française de Gregg avait de bon succès en Québec, où on avait besoin d’un système utile pour écrire en deux langues. La version que j’utilise est la version de R. J. Sénécal (manuel ici), publié en 1939. Cette version est très liée à la version Anniversary en anglais, qui était publié en 1929.

Mise-à-jour 26 oct. 2017: J’avais crée une liste d’abréviations en 2012 qui pourrait peut-être vous aider à mémoriser les signes spéciaux.

To practise speed with your shorthand, you’d probably have to try getting some dictation recordings, where people speak at a certain speed so you can write things down. Although there are not many available for download that are below 50 wpm, there is a YouTube channel that has a couple under 50, along with speeds up to 180 wpm. And there are many other systems as well! A great website I found that covers shorthand in general is www.shorthandshorthandshorthand.com. It focuses more on Gregg shorthand but provides links to lots of different alternative systems as well. And you can even find some dictation mp3 files too, so there you go!

Are you going to try learning shorthand. Or, if you already know shorthand, which method do you prefer? Tell us in the comments!