Info: Teeline and other Shorthand Systems

This is sort of a repost/elaboration on my earlier post on shorthand, but I wanted to make a post on Teeline in particular. I no longer write Teeline, having switched to Gregg for aesthetic and multilingual purposes, but Teeline is nevertheless a great shorthand system, easy to learn and fast enough (I got to around 80 wpm before I decided to switch).

Teeline is easy to read and write because, unlike other systems, the letters are all very distinct. There is also a symbol for every letter of the alphabet, so it can be written orthographically instead of phonetically. What really makes it fast is the fact that it removes all medial vowels, but this also means that readback should be done quickly or all meaning can be lost. To download a full pdf on the system, click here.

Though it depends on how long it takes you to finish the manual, you should be at about 30 or 40 wpm when you are done. To continue speedbuilding, you can download free dictation here (I’m not affiliated with them in any way).

If you don’t think Teeline’s your thing, you can read about Gregg and Pitman in an earlier post of mine. If you’ve already decided, but unsure where to find a manual, you can download a Pitman one here and a Gregg one here. I’m also learning Gregg, and you can find texts in my extremely beginner French Gregg here. (If you are thinking about learning French Gregg, it’s probably best you don’t try to copy my style though, at least not until I improve some more.)

Lastly, if you want to learn about shorthand in general, this is the highly informational site that inspired me to start shorthand in the first place. Thanks Marc for posting a link to this blog, by the way!

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!!!

Task: Learn Java

Learning how to program is often a daunting idea. To learn by oneself would require lots of dedication, and to take a course would cost too much. But with Stanford University’s CS106A iTunes U course, it’s now quite possible to take a full Java course for free online, teacher and all.

The video lectures are great: Mehran Sahami, the professor, is very engaging. There are assignments, handouts, and even a syllabus (if you like to be really organised) online. The software is provided free. You will need a textbook which, though Prof. Sahami says needs to be bought, can be found online also. Though Stanford does not have answer keys to the Assignments, a simple Google Search for ‘CS106A answers’ will pull up a list of blogs that each have their own solutions to the problems. At the beginning, Prof. Sahami says that you don’t need any experience to start learning with CS106A, and he does start at Ground Zero, but he does burn through the subjects pretty fast, so if (like me) you have no previous experience, you’ll likely have to re-watch some of the faster paced lectures and read the textbook extremely attentively. Speaking of the textbook, it’s a good idea to follow along with the lectures with the textbook. I managed to finish Assignments 1 and 2 without the textbook, only to find myself completely confounded by Assignment 3.

But you guys are here to see the links, so without further ado:

CS106A Course Page
Karel the Robot Textbook
The Art and Science of Java Textbook 

We hope you have fun learning Java. Please comment if you have any questions about the links or the course. I’ll try to answer any others, but I don’t know much about programming, so any programming questions would be better asked elsewhere!