Why Technical English

Tactical Media and games

December 1, 2010
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Composed by Galina Vitkova

  

Introductory notes

Tactical media is a form of media activism that uses media and communication technologies for social movement and privileges temporary, hit-and-run interventions in the media sphere. Attempts to spread information not available by mainstream news are also called media activism. The term was first introduced in the mid-1990s in Europe and the United States by media theorists and practitioners. Since then, it has been used to describe the practices of a vast array of art and activist groups. Tactical media also shares something with the hacker subculture, and in particular with software and hardware hacks which modify, extend or unlock closed information systems and technologies.

Tactical Media in Video Games

Video games have opened a fully new approach for tactical media artists. This form of media allows a wide range of audiences to be informed of a specific issue or idea. Some examples of games that touch on Tactical Media are Darfur is Dying and September 12. One example of a game design studio that works in tactical media is TAKE ACTION games (TAG). The video game website www.newsgaming.com greatly embodies the idea of tactical media in video games. Newsgaming coins this name as a new genre that brings awareness of current news related issues based on true world events apposed to fantasy worlds that other video games are based upon. It contributes to emerging culture that is largely aimed at raising awareness about important matters in a new and brilliant approach.

Other examples of tactical media within video games include The McDonald’s Game. The author of this game takes information from the executive officers of McDonalds and giving it to the public by informing people about how McDonalds does its business and what means it uses to accomplish it.

Chris Crawford’s Balance of the Planet, made in 1990, is another example of tactical media, in which the game describes environmental issues.

Darfur is Dying description   

Camp of Darfuris internally displaced by the o...

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Origination

It is a browser game about the crisis in Darfur, western Sudan. The game won the Darfur Digital Activist Contest sponsored by the company mtvU ((Music Television for Universities campus)). Released in April 2006, more than 800,000 people had played it by September. It is classified as a serious game, specifically a newsgame.
The game design was led by Susana Ruiz (then a graduate student at the Interactive Media Program at the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California) as a part of TAKE ACTION games. In October 2005 she was attending the Games for Change conference in New York City, where mtvU announced that they, in partnership with other organizations, were launching the Darfur Digital Activist Contest for a game. The game should also be an advocacy tool about the situation in the Darfur conflict. Since mtvU offered funding and other resources, Ruiz decided to participate in this project.
Ruiz formed a design team and spent two months creating a game design document and prototype. The team spent much of the design phase talking to humanitarian aid workers with experience in Darfur and brainstorming how to make a game that was both interesting to play and was an advocacy tool. The Ruiz team’s beta version was put up for review by the public, along with the other finalists, and was chosen as the winner. The team then received funding to complete the game. The game was officially released at a Save Darfur Coalition rally on 30 March 2006.
Map of Darfur, Sudan (
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Gameplay

The game begins with the player choosing a member of a Darfuri family that has been displaced by the conflict. The first of the two modes of the game begins with the player controlling the family member, who travelled from the camp to a well and back, while dodging patrols of the janjaweed militia. If captured, the player is informed what has happened to his/her selected character and asked to select another member of the family and try again. If the water is successfully carried back to the camp, the game switches into its second mode – a top down management view of the camp, where the character must use the water for crops and to build huts. When the water runs out the player must return to the water fetching level to progress. The goal is to keep the camp running for seven days.

 

Original caption states,

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 Reception of the game

The game has been reported by mainstream media sources such as The Washington Post, Time Magazine, BBC News and National Public Radio. In an early September 2006 interview, Ruiz stated that it was difficult to determine success for a game with a social goal, but affirmed that more than 800,000 people had played it 1.7 million times since its release.  Moreover, tens of thousands of them had forwarded the game to friends or sent a letter to an elected representative. As of April 2007, the game has been played more than 2.4 million times by over 1.2 million people worldwide.

 The game has been the focus of debate on its nature and impact. Some academics, interviewed by the BBC on the game, stated that anything that might spark debate over Darfur and issues surrounding is a clear gain for the advocates. The others thought that the game oversimplified a complex situation and thus failed to address the actual issues of the conflict.  The game was also criticized for the sponsorship of mtvU, raising the possibility that the game might seem like a marketing tool for the corporation. The official site does not use the word “game”, but refers to Darfur is Dying as a “narrative based simulation.”

 

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Beware of danger when playing PC games online

October 30, 2010
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Example of firewall function: Blocking spyware...

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By P. B.

The Internet is a place where the user can find a lot of information, entertainment or work, but on the other side, the same user can “catch” viruses, spyware or malware. Many people don´t understand why somebody creates these harmful programs (see the notes below about these programs). However, the answer is easy – similarly in the common life we can meet a lot of people with wicked goals. And gaining money through special programs is an appropriate goal of many Internet thieves. There are various methods how to do it. On the Internet the user may visit some Web pages which contain  viruses or spyware or malware. It can very often happen to the pages with games because games are considered to be typically connected with gamblers and for this reason it can be a source of money.

But the harmful code  may not be only on the Web pages, games themselves can include it.  It means that the player, when downloading some game and installing it on the local computer, also installs the harmful code without any suspicion. It can be very dangerous – one small example. Imagine the user installed the game that involves a so-called keylogger. The key logger is a small program that records stealthily all keys which the user presses. Many antivirus programs consider this software as a virus (usually as a Trojan-horse – see A worm, a virus or a Trojan horse?). So, the key logger writes all pressed keys to the txt file and sends it to the thief´s e-mail. Suppose, after that the user visited his online betting on the http://www.tipsport.cz, where he had to write the text “www.tipsport.cz” following by username “honza” and password “sazeni123”. The key logger put this string of characters in the txt file “www.tipsport.czhonzasazeni123”. The thief received the file, found this text and was very fast able to connect to the honza-account and transferred all the money from Honza´s Internet account to his (thief´s) own account. It was easy, wasn´t it? Of course, the probability of this coincidence is not very high, but who knows.       

Replica of the Trojan Horse in Troy, Turkey

Image by Alaskan Dude via Flickr

 

Notes:

  • Malware means malicious software – authors of malware create programs for harming  other software. Malware includes PS viruses, trojan-horses, spyware and adware.
  • Spyware is a program that uses the Internet for sending data from the computer without awareness of a user of the computer. It differs from the backdoor by a content of sending data, i.e. it sends only statistic data (e.g. overview of visiting pages, installed programs) and can be used for advertising. The spyware is typically widespread in shareware programs and the authors of the shareware know about it and conciliate it because they want to earn money. 
  • Adware, or advertising-supported software, is any software that automatically downloads advertisements to a computer. The goal of the adware is to generate revenue for its author. Adware, by itself, is harmless; but some adware may come with integrated spyware such as keyloggers.

See more in What is Adware, Spyware and Anti-virus?

 

 


Choose Genres of PC Games for Your Relaxing

October 29, 2010
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Composed by Galina Vitkova

PC games or more generally video games can be categorized into genres by many factors such as methods of game playing, types of goals, art style and more. Nevertheless, a lack of consensus is typical for accepting formal definitions of game genres. Since genres are dependent on content by definition, they have changed and evolved as newer styles of video games have appeared.

Below commonly used video game genres with brief descriptions and sometimes with       examples are listed. However, Chris Crawford, a well-known computer gamedesigner and writer, notes that “the state of computer game design is changing quickly. We would therefore expect the taxonomy presented here to become obsolete or inadequate in a short time.” So, he recommends to “think of each individual game as belonging to several genres at once.”

Action games      

An action game puts stress on combat. So, players should use quick reflexes, accuracy, and timing to overcome obstacles. It is perhaps the most basic of game genres, and certainly one of the most widespread.

Fighting games emphasize one-on-one fight between two characters, one of which may be computer controlled. This genre first appeared in 1976 with the release of Sega‘s Heavyweight Boxing and later became a phenomenon, particularly in the arcades, with the release of Street Fighter II.

Maze games plot is entirely connected with a maze, which players must navigate. Quick thinking and fast reaction times are advanced by the use of a timer, monsters obstructing the player’s way, or multiple players racing to the finish. The most famous game of this genre is Pac-Man.

Pinball games are intended to replicate the look and feel of a real-life pinball table in virtual reality. Most pinball games hold the same gameplay style as in a real pinball table with some additional possibilities. In recent years they have become more popular on handheld systems, as opposed to consoles.

Platform games (platformers) involve travelling between platforms by jumping (sometimes by swinging or bouncing). Other traditional elements include running and climbing ladders and ledges. Platformers frequently borrow elements from other genres like fighting and shooting.

Shooter games

A shooter game focuses chiefly on combat involving projectile weapons, such as guns and missiles. They can be divided into first-person and third-person shooters, depending on perspective. First-person shooter video games (FPSs) emphasize shooting and combat from the perspective of the character controlled by the player and give the player the feeling of “being there”. Most FPSs are very fast-paced and require quick reflexes on high difficulty levels. Third-person shooter video games (TPSs or 3PSs) involve shooting and combat from a camera perspective, in which the player is seen at a distance. Furthermore, third-person shooters allow more complicated movements such as rolling or diving, as opposed to simple jumping and crouching typical in FPS games.

Official screenshot of Scorched 3D, an artille...

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Massively multiplayer online first person shooter games (MMOFPS) combine first-person shooter gameplay with a virtual world in which a large number of players may interact over the Internet. While standard FPS games limit the number of players able to compete in a multiplayer match (generally the maximum is 64), hundreds of players can battle each other on the same server in the game.

A shoot ’em up (or shmup for short), or arcade shooter, is a genre of shooter game in which the player controls a character or vehicle (most often a spacecraft) and shoots large numbers of enemies. Games in this genre call for fast reactions and memorization of enemy patterns. The first game of this type was Spacewar, developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1961, for the amusement of the developers; it was later released as an arcade game.

Tactical shooters are variations on the first- and third-person shooter genre, which concentrate on realism and highlight tactical play such as planning and teamwork (for example, co-ordination and specialised roles). In single player modes, the player commands a squad of AI controlled characters in addition to his own. In multi-player modes, players must work in teams in order to win the game.

Adventure games 

Adventure games belong to the earliest games created. The player should typically solve various puzzles by interacting with people or the environment, most often in a non-confrontational way. It is considered a “purist” genre and strives to exclude anything which comprises action elements.

A visual novel belongs to adventure games comprising mostly static graphics, usually with anime-style art. They resemble mixed-media novels or tableau vivant stage plays. Many visual novels can have various endings and allow more dynamic reactions to the player’s actions than a typical linear adventure plot. Visual novels are particularly popular in Japan, where they amount to 70% of PC games released.

The interactive movie genre came with the invention of laserdiscs. An interactive movie contains pre-filmed full-motion cartoons or live-action sequences, where the player controls some of the moves of the main character. In these games the only activity the player has is to choose or guess the move the designers intend him to make.

Action-adventure games 

Action-adventure games combine elements of their two component genres, habitually furnishing long-term obstacles that must be overcome almost constantly in the way. Action-adventure games tend to focus on exploration and usually comprise gathering, simple puzzle solving, and combat. “Action-adventure” has become a label attaching to games which do not fit precisely into another well known genre.  

Role-playing video games                                 

Role-playing video games derive their gameplay from traditional role-playing games (RPGs). Cultural differences in role-playing video games have led towards two sets of characteristics sometimes referred to as Western and Eastern RPGs. The first type often involves the player creating a character and a non-linear storyline along which the player makes his own decisions. In the second type, the player controls a party of predefined characters through a dramatically scripted linear storyline.

The action role-playing game is a type of role-playing game which includes elements from action games or action-adventure games. Although a definition of the genre varies, the typical action RPG heavily accents combat and often simplifies or removes non-combat attributes.

Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) emerged in the mid to late 1990s. Fantasy MMORPGs like The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar, remain the most popular till now.

The tactical role-playing game sub-genre principally refers to games which embody gameplay from strategy games as an alternative to traditional RPG systems. Like standard RPGs, the player controls a finite party and battles, but this genre incorporates strategic gameplay such as tactical movement, too.

   

An elven bardess, a magician and a girl at a l...

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References:   http://en.wikipedia.org/

 


Online game playing

October 25, 2010
3 Comments
By  P. B.

There are a lot of servers on the Internet that provide playing games online. The playing is very easy and many users who have only basic knowledge about computers and the Internet can play these games. The most common way of starting to play is to open the Internet and visit the Google page.   Then in the box for searching write two words: online games and Google immediately offers you many servers, e.g. www.onlinegames.net, www.freeonlinegames.com or Czech pages www.super-games.cz etc. Each server proposes many various games of different sorts. There you may find games for boys, girls, kids, most played games, new games, and others. Or you can select games by a subject, i.e. adventure games, sports games, war games, erotic or strategic games, etc.         

Assigning a path for Leviathan

Image by Alpha Auer, aka. Elif Ayiter via Flickr

Many games have own manual how to play, so the second step is to study the manual. Depending on the subject of a game the user must use, for example, the key Right Arrow to go forward, Left Arrow – to go back, PgUp – to go up, Ctrl – to shoot. It is very easy to understand how to play and recognize what is the goal of the game, e.g. to have maximum points, to kill everything that moves or to be the first in the end. These games are rather simple-minded, but some people become too addicted to them trying to improve their best performance. Sometimes they spend hours before the screen every day and don´t have any idea about time.  

I have tried four different servers and about six different games. In my opinion these games are very easy and for me boring, but for younger users or for people who are bored right now the games can be interesting. However, the most important thing (in my view) is that two of tested servers were infected (my computer warned me that the pages are dangerous and can contain malware, spyware or viruses). My friends, who have problems with their computers in this sense, want me to repair their computer – maybe that is the reason why I don’t like playing games online directly on the Internet.

Quake3 + net_server
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On the other side, I have also tried the game Quake 3 (game demo – not through the Internet, but after installing this game on my computer) and I can affirm that it was  pretty interesting.

 

Quake 3 Arena is a really shooting game. There is no other goal than to kill all other players (but in other versions like Team death match or Capture the flag two teams fight against each other). The player can choose the level of demandingness (from easy to hard) and various places. Quake 3 Arena is the mode where the player fights in the Arena against computer controlled bots (Artificial Intelligent fighters). 

The fighters do battle equipped with various weapons as follows:

  • Gauntlet – a basic weapon for very near fight, usually used only when the player does not have other gun;
  • Machinegun – a thin gun, again applied only when a better gun is not in equipment;
  • Shotgun – a weapon for near fight, 1 shoot every 1 second;
  • Grenade Launcher – shoots grenades;
  • Rocket Launcher – a very popular weapon because its usage is very easy and impact is huge; But the flight of a rocket is slow, so the players get used to shooting at the wall or floor because the rocket has big dispersion;
  • Lighting Gun – an electric gun, very effective because can kill the rival in 2 seconds;
  • Rail gun – a weapon for long distance, very accurate, but has short frequency;
  • Plasma Gun – shoots plasma pulse;
  • BFG10K – the most powerful weapon, but the worst-balanced, and for this reason is not often used by players (BFG = Bio Force Gun).

It is important for the players to find and acquire the armor – the maximum is 200 points armor. The armor provides protection, which absorbs 2/3 of damage. Similarly the players can control their health (from the beginning they have 125 points, which make 100%, and can reach maximum 200 points).

Sometimes (depending on the game) additional features are involved – a Battle suit, Haste (makes movement and shooting twice faster within 30 seconds), Invisibility (for 30 seconds), Medkit, Teleporter (the player is moved to a casual place), Regeneration, Flight (during 60 seconds) and so on.  

  

 


Video Games Platforms

October 6, 2010
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Composed by Galina Vitkova

 

Terminology

The term game platform refers to the particular combination of electronic or computer hardware which, in connection with low-level software, allows a video game to run. In general, a hardware platform means a group of compatible computers that can run the same software. A software platform comprises a major piece of software, as an operating system, operating environment, or a database, under which various smaller application programs can be designed to run. Below main platforms of video games are reviewed.   

  

Platforms for PC games 

PC games often require specialized hardware in the user’s computer in order to play, such as a specific generation of graphics processing unit or an Internet connection for online play, although these system requirements vary from game to game. In any case your PC hardware capabilities should meet minimum hardware requirements established for particular PC games. On the other side, many modern computer games allow, or even require, the player to use a keyboard and mouse simultaneously without demanding any additional devices. 

As of the 2000s, PC games are often regarded as offering a deeper and more complex experience than console games. 

 

Video game consoles platform

A video game console is an interactive entertainment computer or modified computer system that produces a video display signal which can be used with a display device to show video games.    

Usually, this system is connected to a common television set or composite video monitor. A composite monitor is any analog video display that receives input in the form of an analog composite video signal through a single cable. The monitor is different from a conventional TV set because it does not have an internal RF (Radio Frequency) tuner or RF converter. However, a user can install an external device that emulates a TV tuner. 

  

Handheld game consoles platform

A handheld game console is a lightweight, portable electronic device of a small size with a built-in screen, games controls and speakers. A small size allows people to carry handheld game consoles and play games at any time or place. 

A One Station handheld console with game

Image via Wikipedia

 The oldest true handheld game console with interchangeable cartridges is the Milton Bradley Microvision issued in 1979. 

Nintendo, with a popular handheld console concept released the Game Boy in 1989, and continues to dominate the handheld console market with successive Game Boy, and most recently Nintendo DS models.  

  

Handheld electronic games platform

In the past decade, handheld video games have currently become a major sector of the video game market. For example, in 2004 sales of portable software titles exceeded $1 billion in the United States. 

The Gizmondo handheld video game unit. United ...

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Handheld electronic games are very small portable devices for playing interactive electronic games, often miniaturized versions of video games. The controls, display and speakers are all a part of a single unit. They usually have displays designed to play one game. Due to this simplicity they can be made as small as a digital watch, and sometimes are. Usually they do not have interchangeable cartridges, disks, etc., or are not reprogrammable.  The visual output of these games can range from a few small light bulbs or a light-emitting diode (LED) lights to calculator-like alphanumerical screens. Nowadays these outputs are mostly displaced by liquid crystal and Vacuum fluorescent display screens. Handhelds were most popular from the late 1970s into the early 1990s. They are both the precursors and inexpensive alternatives to the handheld game console. 

Mobile games platform

A mobile game is a video game played on a mobile phone, smartphone, PDA (Personal Digital Assistant), handheld computer or portable media player.  

The 16 best iPhone games of 2009

Image by docpop via Flickr

The first game that was pre-installed onto a mobile phone was Snake on selected Nokia models in 1997. Snake and its variants have since become the most-played video game on the planet, with over a billion people having played the game. Mobile games are played using the technologies present on the device itself. The games may be installed over the air, they may be side loaded onto the handset with a cable, or they may be embedded on the handheld devices by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or by the mobile operator. 

For networked games, there are various technologies in common use, for example, text message (SMS), multimedia message (MMS) or GPRS location identification. 

  

Arcade games 

The Simpsons arcade game by Konami

Image by Lost Tulsa via Flickr

An Arcade game is a coin-operated entertainment machine, usually installed in public businesses such as restaurants, public houses, and video arcades. Most arcade games are redemption games, merchandisers (such as claw crane), video games, or pinball machines. The golden age of video arcade games within the early 1980s was a peak era of video arcade game popularity, innovation, and earnings.     

Furthermore, by the late 1990s and early 2000s, networked gaming via console and computers across the Internet had appeared and replaced arcade games. The arcades also lost their a forefront position of the of new game releases. Having the choice between playing a game at an arcade three or four times (perhaps 15 minutes of play for a typical arcade game), and renting, at about the same price, the exact same game for a video game console, people selected the console. To remain viable, arcades added other elements to complement the video games such as redemption games, merchandisers, games that use special controllers largely inaccessible to home users. Besides, they equiped games with  reproductions of automobile or airplane cockpits, motorcycle or horse-shaped controllers, or highly dedicated controllers such as dancing mats and fishing rods. Moreover, today arcades extended their activities by food service etc. striving to become “fun centers” or “family fun centers”. 

All modern arcade games use solid state electronics and integrated circuits. In the past coin-operated arcade video games generally used custom per-game hardware often with multiple CPUs, highly specialized sound and graphics chips, and the latest in computer graphics display technology. Recent arcade game hardware is often based on modified video game console hardware or high-end PC components.

References:   http://en.wikipedia.org/

 

 


Accumulate Your Vocabulary

September 25, 2010
2 Comments
                                          BGalina Vitkova   
 
  
          

Tips and steps

One of the most difficult work in studying a language is building and learning the language vocabulary. You should build your vocabulary all your life. But how? On the Internet and numerous English course books you can find ample tips and strategies that may help you in this sense.

In my opinion, based on my own experience and testing advices and recommendations of specialists in this area, the main, principal steps in building your own vocabulary are as follows: 

  • First of all, it is necessary to focus on several common ways to your vocabulary skills. Generally, building vocabulary goes from passive knowledge to active knowledge – by repeating a word so long until it becomes active vocabulary. This process requires time. So, be prepared for that and arm yourself with patience.
  • Learning vocabulary in groups of words appears to be much more effective than memorizing random lists. In this case words that are related to each other are more likely to be remembered over the long-term period.
  • The best way of learning words is to study and read systematically related texts and make a list of words of frequent occurrence.
  • Focusing on certain topics, which you are most interested in, brings good results, too;
  • For technical students and professionals such topics are comprised in technical texts typical and ultimate in their branch. Related activities include:
 
  • building a specialized list of common words appeared with high frequency in technical texts, which attract your attention,
  • building a list of professional words, expressions, collocations used in your branch,
  • building a list of words used in common communication (radio, TV, magazines, journals) to be able to understand discussions on topics that concern you;

After building such lists you can memorize them successfully.

Vocabulary Trees                                 

Vocabulary trees provide a solid ground for building your vocabulary and enhancing its level. People, especially students very often learn a new vocabulary by simply writing lists of new vocabulary words and then memorize these words by heart. Unfortunately, this technique generally brings only few positive consequences. Such learning helps you to pass exams, different tests, interviews etc. It leads to open up a kind of “short term” remembering. Vocabulary trees, on the other hand, provide a clue to “long term” memorization by placing vocabulary in connected categories. The example of a vocabulary tree on the right is taken up from http://esl.about.com/ .

A concept of vocabulary trees is applied in Improve Vocabulary with Vocabulary.Net Builder, which is strongly recommended to try. Enjoy the citrates from this publication:

“English vocabulary level has been shown to be strongly related to educational success. In addition, it is related to the level of occupation attained“. Bowker, R. (1981).

“A rich vocabulary is a valuable asset and an important attribute of success in any walk of life …”. Elley, W.B. (1988).

Vocabulary Tables

Vocabulary tables can help you in enriching your vocabulary based on different forms of a particular word that is known to you. If you build regularly vocabulary tables based on specific topics, namely in our case on technical topics, which you study or work in, you will certainly improve your knowledge of English.

Building tables on specific topics also helps to improve “long term” memory of related words. See below an example of such a vocabulary table based on words related to the post Speech and Handwriting Recognition in Windows 7 , which is the most popular last weeks:

NOUNS VERBS ADJECTIVES ADVERBS
availability, availableness   available availably
computer, computation, computerisation, computability compute, computerise computable,  computerisable,    
change change changeable changeably
implementation implement implementable  
improvement improve improvable  
recognition, recognisability recognise recognitive, recognisable recognisably
use, usage, usability use usable  

 

850 Words for Basic Conversational Fluency

Even if learning words from casual lists is certainly not the most effective method for long-term word remembering, it is very helpful to know what words are the most usable in English. It provides you with a good roadmap in studying the language. A list of such 850 words was published in 1930 in the book by Charles K. Ogden named Basic English: A General Introduction with Rules and Grammar.

The book contains basic verbs, articles, pronouns, prepositions, etc. split into categories. These 850 words should give you a solid basis for conversation. For more information about this list you can find in Ogden’s Basic English page. In any case, this list is an excellent starting point for building up a vocabulary that allows you to converse fluently in English.

Below the hyperlinks to these 850 Words are given:

Basics (verbs, articles, pronouns, prepositions, etc.)
General Nouns 1 – 200
General Nouns 201 – 400
Specific Nouns 1 – 200
Adjectives 1 – 150

For more advanced vocabulary building that helps you quickly improve your English study Kenneth Beare (http://esl.about.com/) recommends these vocabulary books. They will help you enhance your vocabulary, which is especially important for professional English knowledge.

 Use more your Dictionary

Since you can use it not only for finding words, but also in order to explain meanings of words, to improve your pronunciation by hearing words, in order to check spellings of less-known words and spelling variations, to find synonyms and more. Drop a look again at Dictionary – your best helper in mastering English words . There you will find the detailed information of possible usage of dictionaries for building your specialized vocabulary.

Read more about the topic at http://socyberty.com/languages/who-wants-to-improve-the-vocabulary/#ixzz0zzVciIw1 .

References

PS:

  • It is very helpful to be aware of what kind of the English reader you are. Complete Personality Quiz – What Kind of English Learner Are You?
  • Build your vocabulary and study English in compliance with your type of the English Learner!
  • In Free Rice you can find a very nice game that helps you in learning English words. English grammar and other topics. At the same time the game will entertain you.

 

 


Contemporary gaming

August 29, 2010
2 Comments
Composed by Galina Vitkova

 

Dear friends of Technical English!

Having finished discussing new features of Windows 7 we were looking for topics that could be proper for studying Technical English. After a relatively short time we have chosen computer games for reasons as follows:

  • This topic may be interesting for a larger amount of people studying and needing English. Effectiveness of studying interesting subjects that fascinate you is, as well-known, much higher;
  • In PC games many general methods and instruments that are commonly used for building software applications and systems are applied, too. It means that the same terminology is used in both cases. Thus studying technical texts about PC games we can significantly enrich our professional vocabulary by those technical terms;
  • Games contribute to development of communication skills and reaction readiness, the interest to a game strengthen your ability to remember or memorize new words and expressions;
  • PC games, in spite of their controversial reputation, provide a good means for relaxation.

Enjoy the text and participate in discussion!

 

Contemporary gaming

Personal Computer games (also known as computer games or PC games) have evolved from the simple graphics and gameplays of early titles like Spacewar to a wide range of more visually advanced titles.

 

Playing Spacewar

Image by Marcin Wichary via Flickr

 

 

Although personal computers only became popular with the development of microprocessors, mainframes and minicomputers, computer gaming has existed since at least the 1960s. The first generation of  PC games were often text adventures or interactive fictions, in which the player communicated with the computer by entering commands through a keyboard. Increasing adoption of the computer mouse, and high resolution bitmap displays allowed to include increasingly high-quality graphical interfaces in new releases. Further improvements to games were made with the introduction of the first sound cards in 1987. These cards allowed IBM PC compatible computers to produce complex sounds using frequency modulation (FM synthesis). Previously those computers had been limited to simple tones and beeps.

 

Xbox 360 Case Mod - mosaic Tomb Raider Legend case

 

By 1996, the rise of Microsoft Windows and success of 3D console titles gave rise to great interest in hardware accelerated 3D graphics on the IBM PC compatible computers, and soon resulted in attempts to produce affordable solutions. Tomb Raider, which was released in 1996, was one of the first shooter games acclaimed for its revolutionary graphics. However, major changes to the Microsoft Windows operating system made many older MS-DOS-based games unplayable on Windows NT, and later, Windows XP without using an emulator. The faster graphics accelerators and improving CPU technology resulted in increasing levels of realism in computer games. During this time, the improvements have allowed developers to increase the complexity of modern game engines. PC gaming currently tends strongly toward improvements in 3D graphics.

Concurrently, many game publishers began to experiment with new forms of marketing. Nowadays episodic gaming is chief among these alternative strategies. This kind of gaming is an adaptation of the older concept of expansion packs, in which game content is provided in smaller quantities but for a proportionally lower price. Titles such as Half-Life 2: Episode One took advantage of the idea, with mixed results rising from concerns for the amount of content provided for the price.

The multi-purpose nature of personal computers often allows users to modify the content of installed games with relative ease in comparison with console cames. The console games are generally difficult to modify without a proprietary means. Furthermore, they are often protected by legal and physical barriers against tampering. Contrary to it, the personal computer version of games may be modified using common, easy-to-obtain software. Users can then distribute their customised version of the game (commonly known as a mod) by any means they choose.

The inclusion of map editors, such as UnrealEd with the retail versions of many games that have been made available online, allow users to create modifications for games smoothly. Moreover, the users may use for this purpose tools that are maintained by the games’ original developers. In addition, companies such as id Software have released the source code to older game engines. Thus they enable creation of entirely new games and major changes to existing ones.

Modding have allowed much of the community to produce game elements that would not normally be provided by the developer of the game. Due to it expanding or modifying normal gameplays to varying degrees has been enabled.

References:   http://en.wikipedia.org/


Changing the theme of this blog

August 26, 2010
1 Comment
By Galina Vitkova

Dear visitors of my blog Why Technical English!

Circumstances wanted me to change the theme (graphical arrangement of this blog). I liked very much a former theme. I think it was ideally suited to the content of my blog. Nevertheless, I believe that the new theme will fit in with the content of the blog as well as the former one. In any case the content of the blog is the most important thing beyond a doubt and the content has been kept. Moreover, the change of the theme forced me to elaborate a classified list of posts on the blog. Now you can find the posts that are the most interesting for you much easier. Just look through the sidebar and choose appropriate post in the List of tech texts on power engineering or in the List of tech texts on computers etc. In fact there are eleven of such lists, i.e. (posts in individual lists are ordered by the date of their publishing):

  • List of Posts: Tech texts on computers;
  • List of Posts: Tech texts on WEB;
  • List of Posts: Tech texts on power engineering and renewables;
  • List of Posts: Tech texts on robots;
  • List of Posts: Tech texts on genetics;
  • List of Posts: Interviews;
  • List of Posts: Grammar issues in tech texts;
  • List of Posts: Students´ opinion on Tech English;
  • List of Posts about Technical Writing;
  • List of Posts about SKYPE conversation;
  • List of Posts: Miscellaneous.

 

Image representing Microsoft as depicted in Cr...

Image via CrunchBase

 

The content of individual lists comprises as follows:

List of Posts: Tech texts on computers

List of Posts: Tech texts on WEB

List of Posts: Tech texts on power engineering and renewables

 List of Posts: Tech texts on robots

List of Posts: Tech texts on genetics

List of Posts: Interviews

 List of Posts: Dictionaries and Grammar issues in tech texts

 List of Posts: Students´ opinion on Tech English

List of Posts about Technical Writing

List of Posts about SKYPE conversation

 List of Posts: Miscellaneous

Good luck in study Technical English using the posts on this blog!


Hanlin e-Reader V5

July 14, 2010
9 Comments

By P.B. 

  

A week ago I bought my first e-book reader – Hanlin eReader V5. It cost  5.500 Czech crowns (about US$275 US Dollars) including VAT. The set includes a case of leather, e-Reader, USB-cable, power adapter, manual, screwdriver, headphones and 2 GB SD card with 250 e-books in Czech language (by Czech authors J.A. Komensky and K. Capek, then  J. London, etc.)

Here is my general impression after 4 days of owning this device.

Advantages appear to be as follows:

  • it is easy to understand how this product works;
  • the reading is comfortable (good quality of a display) and a user can set a size of letters (it depends on the format of a document –  PDF has 5 possibilities, TXT offers 3 possibilities);
  • usage of e-Ink technology (see a note at the end of this article) enables to read approximately 8000 pages without charging batteries;
  • supports many formats: PDF, DOC, HTML, JPEG, GIF, MP3, ZIP, RAR and some others;
  • the technology supports both reading and  listening modern English books, which  is very good for studying;
  • the 2 GB SD (Security Digital) card is included, but it is possible to use 16 GB SD card (internal memory 384 MB); notice: Secure Digital (SD) is a non-volatile memory card format developed by Panasonic, SanDisk, and Toshiba for portable devices.
  • provides a reasonable size of the e-Reader;
  • supports bookmarks (up to 7 bookmarks in one book, which may be deleted by a user);
  • gives a possibility to go directly to a specific page (for example, page 721);
  • the system remembers last 16 files;
  • besides reading and listening to the books it also provides listening to the music or showing     pictures.

 Disadvantages seem to be as follows:

  •   sometimes problems with special characters (č, š, ř, ž…) arise;
  •   slow functioning (it is better to create a tree of folders with books – it runs faster);
  •   cutting off letters in words at the end of the row varies (e.g. „udělat“ can be cut ud-ělat, uděl-at, etc.);
  •  doesn´t support searching  in your library;
  •  when a user applies functions for reading and listening together, the audio is not always of good quality (I have tried only one source – maybe it has happened by chance);
  • doesn´t support touchscreen;
  •  not all paper books (especially by Czech authors) are in a form of e-book.

 General conclusion

  • it is expensive (but it depends on your considerations);
  • e-Reader can comprise more e-books (depends on a memory card)
  • it is very good for holiday or for usage when traveling by city transport;
  • in the future, when more sophisticated functions are amended, it will bring great conveniences for common people.

 

NOTE: E-Ink is used with electronic paper (e-paper) or electronic ink display, which imitates the appearance of ordinary ink on paper. E-paper reflects ambient light like ordinary paper rather than emitting its own light. An e-paper display can be read in direct sunlight without the image appearing to fade. Moreover, in this case the contrast seems to be the best. On the contrary, in the places that are not well lit the problem with contrast could appear.

Through this new technology the display takes the energy from a battery only when it draws its content. It lasts just a fraction of a second. For the rest of displaying time no feed power is needed. This feature let the e-Reader offer hundreds hours of reading without charging, e.g. with standard Li-pol accumulator it makes about 8000 pages of text.

E-Reader can show videos or photos but the quality of showing them is not good.

 


Have you already procured e-book reader?

June 22, 2010
2 Comments
                                                                                                                          By Galina Vitkova
General  reflection

I like printed books, more than that I love them. Nevertheless, I stopped buying the books short of few exceptions many years ago and the primary reason was the books need too much place in your dwelling.

Electronic books (e-books) are much better from this point of view. First of all, e-books do not demand practically any place in your dwelling. It is incomparably easier to find room for them. Second, e-books are much cheaper than printed ones. Third, they are eco-friendly, above all else because they do not need paper and other substances, which is extremely important at present time. And finally e-books are out of competition when traveling as you can take with yourself your whole library with your favourite books and publications.

But for a relatively long time reading e-books has not given the feeling of comfort. Nowadays e-books together with e- book readers have fundamentally changed the situation with it. Reading e-books has become comfortable and enjoyable. 

However, several buts have still remained. If you are not used to reading from a computer screen, you get unpleasant feeling that something is wrong, when starting to read using an e-book readers. Fortunately, almost all people get easily used to overcoming that. Nevertheless, your eyes could be too sensitive to the screen flicker and you may be very tired in a short time. So, that’s why you need implicitly to have an e-book reader of a high quality, which takes into consideration mentioned troubles.

Technical features of modern e-book readers

The company ECTACO, one of the leading producers of linguistic devices and software, offers very quality devices in this branch including e-book readers. Now ECTACO presents its second line of electronic e-book readers: ECTACO jetBook Lite – the most affordable e-Book Reader on the market with outstanding performance. You can get to know 11 types of present e-book readers produced by ECTACO and Franklin Electronic Publishers and compare their basic characteristics depicted in the table on page e-Book readers.

In general, all these e-book readers support e-book content in most European languages.  Besides, several of them also support Arabic, Farsi, Vietnamese and Hebrew. All books could be stored with their illustrations and pictures. The built in flash-memory allows you to store your favoured books as many as you like.  Moreover, some of these readers contain bidirectional dictionaries for several European languages. As a rule, the e-book readers are preloaded by famous books and publications. All readers have bookmarks and auto page turn functionality and adjustable font type and size. Further, they support screen rotation for both portrait and landscape mode. A large 5-inch VGA reflective monochrome screen make people feel comfortable, when reading, and moreover is thoughtful of the eyes. In the Internet shops you can purchase practically any e-book because these readers support practically entire file formats used in e-books. So, enjoy reading breathtaking e-books, enjoy their illustrations and pictures with the help of modern e-book readers. Just take them with yourselves on these Summer holidays, particularly perceiving that the e-book readers are lightweight (their weights varies in the interval from 6.5oz to 9oz, i.e. from234g to 255g), super-portable and fits perfectly into the palm of your hand.

A price of the e-book readers in the table is within the interval 80$ up to 179$, except a Chinese e-book reader, which costs 349$.

Reference http://www.ectaco.com/main.jsp?refid=35351&vTransferId=null

 


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