Why Technical English

Education: Why blogs need SEO

January 28, 2012

Composed by Galina Vitkova

SEO (Search engine optimisation)

Is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page or a blog in search engines. SEO aims to maximise profitable traffic from search engines to websites. In general, the more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine users. Thus, technical communication among the search engine users, including bloggers will improve. Experience has shown that search engine traffic can make a firm success. Targeted visitors to a website or a blog may provide publicity, revenue, and exposure like no other. Investing in SEO, whether through time or finances, can have an exceptional rate of return.

What really is Search Engine Optimization?

SEO evaluates how search engines work, what people search for, the actual search terms typed into search engines. Moreover, SEO considers which search engines are preferred by their targeted audience. Optimising a website for searching may involve editing its content to increase its relevance to specific keywords and to remove barriers to the indexing activities of search engines (see Search engine essential information).  Promoting a site to increase the number of backlinks, or inbound links, is another SEO task.

The success and popularity of a search engine is determined by its ability to produce the most relevant results to any given search. Otherwise, false search results could turn users to find other search sources. Therefore search engines with more complex ranking algorithms (which strongly affects SEO), taking into account additional factors have been evolved.

Google and its PageRank   

The breakthrough idea behind Google was to analyse the relationships between the websites and pages to determine the relevancy of those pages to specific search queries. The Google founders, graduate students at Stanford University Larry Page and Sergey Brin, used this principle and developed a mathematical algorithm for a search engine to rate the prominence of web pages. The number calculated by the algorithm, has been named PageRank after Larry Page. PageRank estimates the likelihood that a given page will be reached by a user who randomly surfs the web and follows links from one page to another. In effect, this means that some links are stronger than others because a higher PageRank page is more likely to be reached by the random surfer.

Page and Brin founded Google using the developed algorithm for searching in 1998. Google attracted immediately the growing number of Internet users due to its simple design. In Google off-page factors (such as the PageRank and hyperlink analysis) as well as on-page factors (such as keyword frequency, meta tags, headings, links and site structure) were considered. It enables Google to avoid the kind of manipulation seen in search engines that only deliberated on-page factors for their rankings

Against improper SEO

Since the time of appearing ranking tools webmasters developed a great amount of link building instruments to influence search engine results within SEO. Many sites focused on exchanging, buying, and selling links, often on a massive scale which is not connected much with the spirit of SEO.

By 2004, search engines incorporated a wide range of undisclosed factors in their ranking algorithms to reduce the impact of link manipulation. The leading search engines, Google, Bing, and Yahoo, do not disclose their ranking algorithms, too.  

Image of Google & Yahoo offices in Haifa. Both...

Image via Wikipedia

In 2007, Google announced a campaign against paid links that transfer PageRank. On June 15, 2009, it took special measures to mitigate the effects of PageRank sculpting. In December 2009, Google announced it would be using the web search history of all its users in order to populate search results.

Google Instant, real-time-search, was introduced in late 2009 in an attempt to make search results more timely and relevant. Site administrators have spent months or even years optimising a website to increase search rankings. With the growth in popularity of social media sites and blogs the leading engines made changes to their algorithms to allow fresh content to rank quickly within the search results.

Increasing prominence

A variety of methods can increase the prominence of a webpage within the search results. Cross linking between pages of the same website or blog to provide more links to most important pages may improve its visibility. Writing content that includes frequently searched keyword phrases, so as to be relevant to a wide variety of search queries will tend to increase traffic. Updating content so as to keep search engines crawling back frequently can give additional weight to a site. Adding relevant keywords to web page meta data, including the title tag and meta description, will tend to improve the relevancy of a site search listings, thus increasing traffic. Several other techniques can help towards the page link popularity score. In any case, creating a useful, information-rich site, with pages that clearly and accurately describe your content should be one of the main goals of SEO.



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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

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
                                                                                                                          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


Speech and Handwriting Recognition in Windows 7

March 30, 2010

By P.B.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any practical experience with speech or handwriting recognition. However, I would like to get the experience and to use these new features of Windows 7 when communicating with my computer.

Speech recognition

It is included free as a part of the Windows Vista and Windows 7 operating systems. The version in Windows 7 is actually unchanged, though some small improvements – such as an expanded dictionary – have been involved.

When a user wants to implement the function Speech recognition, he must do 3 steps:

  1. To set the microphone using a menu:  Start – Settings – Easy access – Speech recognition – Set the microphone.  For faster recognition it is necessary to have a good microphone (in order to avoid background noise). It is better to use a headset microphone than a desktop one.
  2. To learn speaking to the computer – the Windows contains a program which teaches users to use common commands (e.g. open the file, close the folder) in 30 minutes.
  3. To teach the computer to recognize user´s speech – during usage of speech recognition the computer improves its ability to recognize a specific user´s voice profile.

The function Speech recognition is available in English, French, Spanish, German, Japanese and Chinese (Traditional and Simplified).


Microsoft has been working on handwriting recognition for over 15 years (from Windows 3.0). There were Only 12 languages are available in the Windows Vista.  In the Windows 7 more languages are included and for us it is important that Czech language is in the package. The language, in which the operating system is installed, and English language as well can be always usable for handwriting recognition, but when you need to recognize handwriting in another language besides English, you must have Windows 7 Ultimate and download an additional package.

The reason why all languages, used in countries where Windows may be applied, aren’t included in Windows 7 is simple. For each new language it is necessary to collect samples of native handwriting, to analyze collected data and cleanse it. So, development of a new handwriting recognizer starts with a huge data collection effort. Millions words and characters of a written text are collected from tens of thousands of writers. The problems are that some languages have special characters or accents and people in different regions learn to write in different ways. Differences exist even between countries with the same language as between the UK and US, for example. Characters that may look visually very similar to you can actually be quite different to the computer. This is why it is necessary to collect real data about how characters, punctuation marks and other shapes are exactly written.

Before start of data collecting, recognizer developers configure collection tools, prepare documentation and compile language scripts in the labs. Once tools and scripts are ready, the labs are opened and volunteers may donate their handwriting samples. In the course of samples evaluating a gender, age, left handiness and educational background are taken into consideration. A collection session lasts 60-90 minutes. The donated data is then uploaded and stored in a Microsoft database for future use.


Biofuels Reduce Emissions (part 1)

March 6, 2010
1 Comment

 Special Interview Reveals How Czech Biofuels Are

Ing. Jiří Souček, CSc. (SoJ), who participated on biofuel research in the Czech Republic, answered questions posed by Galina Vitkova (ViG)

ViG:  According to REN21 the Czech Republic produced 18kTOE (thousand Metric Tons of Oil Equivalent) of bioethanol in 2007, in 2008 it counts 38kTOE (i.e. 0.1 % of total world production). Is this amount of practical importance? ViG: Podle údajů REN21 vyrobila ČR v r. 2007 bioetanolu v počtu 16 tis. tun ropného ekvivalentu, v 2008 – 38 tis. tun (0,1 % od celkové světové produkce biopaliva). Má to praktický význam?
SoJ:  In 2007 the law about obligation of biofuel usage in propellants didn´t exist. In 2008 60kTOE of bioethanol were produced whereas 20kTOE were exported and 30kTOE were imported. Consumption of bioethanol amounted to 50kTOE. As for biodiesel 75kTOE of it were produced while its consumption made 85kTOE.Minimal amount of biofuel additive to propellants is set by the Czech Republic law coming out from the Directive EU 203/30/ES. Since 2010 the minimal additive of bioethanol to gasoline will make 4.5 %, while biodiesel additive to diesel will amount to 6.3 %. It corresponds to consumption of about 100 kTOE of bioethanol and 200 kTOE of biodiesel. SoJ:  V roce 2007 nebyla zákonná povinnost použití biopaliv v pohonných hmotách. V roce 2008 bylo v ČR vyrobeno 60 tis. tun bioetanolu  a vyvezeno 20 tis. tun. Bylo dovezeno 30 tis. tun bioetanolu. Spotřebováno bylo 50 tis. tun. Dále bylo vyrobeno 75 tis. tun bionafty a spotřebováno 85 tis. tun.

Minimální množství přídavku biopaliv do pohonných hmot je stanoveno zákonem ČR, který vychází ze směrnice EU 203/30/ES. Od roku 2010 bude minimální přídavek bioetanolu do benzinu činit 4,5 % obj. a bionafty do motorové nafty 6,3 % obj. To odpovídá spotřebě cca 100 tis. tun bioetanolu a 200 tis. tun bionafty.

ViG:  What is, in your opinion, the main importance of biofuels for the Czech Republic? ViG: V čem je podle Vás největší přínos nebo největší význam biopaliv pro ČR? 
SoJ:  The importance of biofuels for production of heat, electricity and usage in propellants for the Czech Republic and other countries lies chiefly in:

  • substitute of fossil fuels which will be exhausted
  • decreasing emission of exhausted and greenhouse gases, which. improves environment
  • decreasing carbon dioxide emission, which declines our planet warming
  • diminution of dependence on oil and gas import
  • supporting  uncultivated farmlands usage.
SoJ:  Význam biopaliv používaných pro výrobu tepla, elektrické energie a jako motorová paliva je pro ČR a jiné země zvláště v tom, že:

  • nahrazují fosilní paliva, která jsou vyčerpatelná
  • snižuji exhalací výfukových plynů, tj. zlepšují životní prostředí
  • snižuji emisí oxidu uhličitého, snižuji riziko oteplování planety,
  • snižuji závislost na dovozu ropy a zemního plynu
  • napomáhají k využití neobdělávané zemědělské půdy.
ViG: Could you cite kinds of biofuels produced in the Czech Republic (bioethanol, biodiesel)?  ViG: Můžete uvést druhy biopaliva vyráběné v ČR (etanol, biodiesel)? 
SoJ:  In the Czech Republic bioethanol (alcohol) and biodiesel (MEŘO) are produced. SoJ:  V ČR se vyrábí  bioetanol (líh) a bionafta (biodiesel, MEŘO).
ViG:  Which plants are biofuels produced from in the Czech Republic?   ViG:  Z jakých rostlin se vyrábí biopalivo v ČR? 
SoJ:  In the Czech Republic bioethanol is produced from sugar beet and corn while is produced from oil rape. SoJ:  V ČR se vyrábí  bioetanol z cukrové řepy a z obilí a bionafty (biodiesel, MEŘO) z řepky olejné.
ViG:  Is it possible to import biofuels to the Czech Republic?  ViG:  Je možné dovážet biopaliva do ČR? 
SoJ:  Despite biofuel production capacities in the Czech Republic are bigger than their consumption bioethanol and biediesel are imported, too. On the other hand, Czech producers export these products. It is a free market.  SoJ:  Přestože výrobní kapacity na výrobu biopaliv v ČR jsou vyšší než spotřeba, bioetanol i bionafta se částečně dovážejí. Z druhé strany čeští výrobci biopaliv tyto produkty vyvážejí. Jde o volný trh.
ViG:  How can we prevent deforestation or pluvial woods or palm groves cutting (which already occurs)?  ViG:  Jak zabránit tomu, aby se nekácely deštné lesy, palmové háje (což už se stává?) 
SoJ:  Palm groves are not cut. Contrariwise, pluvial woods are cut for planting crops including foundation of palm plantations. This process, the goal of which is gain soil for planting, has been lasting for decades or hundreds of years. Nowadays this process is said to be activated  by palm oil usage for production of biodiesel. But this is not a crucial reason.According to the EU Directive on biofuels for road transport 2009/28/ES biofuel producers will be certified by set criteria of sustainability. One of the criterions is that feedstocks for biofuel production must not be grown up on soils with a large amount of carbon, which is typical for soils after cutting woods. SoJ:  Palmové háje se nekácejí. Naopak deštné lesy se kácejí pro výsadbu zemědělských plodin včetně zakládání palmových plantáží. Tento proces, jehož smyslem je získání zemědělské půdy, trvá několik desetiletí ba století. V současné době se uvádí, že proces je ovlivněn využitím palmového oleje na výrobu bionafty. Nejde však o rozhodující vliv.Podle nové směrnice EÚ o biopalivech pro silniční dopravu č. 2009/28/ES, budou výrobci biopaliv certifikování podle stanovených kriterií udržitelnost. Jedno z kritérií je, že suroviny pro výrobu biopaliv nesmí být pěstovány na půdách s velkou zásobou uhlíku, což je i půda po vykácených lesech. 
ViG:  What about soil erosion, side-dressing soils for cultivation of plants for biofuel production?  ViG:  Co erose půdy, hnojení půdy při pěstování rostlin pro výrobu biopaliva? 
SoJ:  In my opinion, the soils should be used not only for food production, but yet for other needs of our society including energy demands. Formerly thermal energy was mostly got from woods. Today large pieces of land are used for cultivating plants for technical purposes like textile fibers (cotton, linen, hemp), paper (cellulose), biochemical products (sugars), etc. It concerns priorities, which are different in individual countries. Priority number 1 is food. In the Czech Republic agriculture covers all food needs, alongside 600 th. hectares of arable soil lie fallow, rape is cultivated on 350 th. hectares.Either we let the soils lie fallow without composting, weedy and scrubby or we use them for cultivation of required technical plants, which need the same composting as cultivating plants for food. SoJ:  Jsem toho názoru, že půda má být využívaná nejen pro produkci potravin, ale i pro další potřeby společnosti, včetně zabezpečení energie. Dříve většina tepelné energie byla získávána ze dřeva. Dnes jsou značné plochy využívány pro výrobu technických produktů, jako jsou textilní vlákna (bavlna, len, konopí) papír (celulóza) biochemické produkty (cukry) aj. Jde o otázku priorit, které jsou v různých zemích jiné. Prioritní je zabezpečení výživy. V ČR zemědělství plně pokrývá potřeby potravin, při čemž je 600 tis. ha orné půdy ponecháno ladem a řepka se pěstuje na cca 350 tis. ha.   Buď ponecháme další půdu ladem bez hnojení, na které budou růst plevele, nebo ji využijeme pro pěstování potřebných technických plodin, které vyžadují stejné hnojení, jako pěstování plodin pro výživu.
ViG:  What about enlarged consumption of water during cultivation of plants and biofuel production?  ViG:  Co se zvýšenou spotřebou vody při pěstování rostlin a výrobě biopaliva? 
SoJ:  Cultivating plants for energy production does not require enlarged consumption of water. The process of biodiesel production is not water-consuming, bioethanol production requires enlarged amount of water, but not extremely large. It is mainly about cooling water that circulates during the process. SoJ:  Při pěstování rostlin pro energetické účely není zvýšena spotřeba vody. Proces výroby bionafty není náročný na spotřebu vody, výroba bioetanolu má vyšší spotřebu ne však mimořádnou. Jde hlavně o vody chladící, které se ve výrobě cirkulují
ViG:  What is energy effectivity of Czech biofuels (the ratio of depleted energy to energy which is produced from biofuels)?  ViG:  Jaká je energetická efektivita českého biopaliva (poměr energie spotřebované na výrobu biopaliva k energii vyráběné z biopaliva)? 
SoJ:  Energy demandingness of biofuel production depends on row materials used and technological level of their cultivation, then on the technology of fuel production itself, on transporting row materials and biofuels, on usage of secondary products and energy calorific capacity of mass-produced biofuels. Main installations producing biodiesel expend for producing one TOE of biodiesel (MEŘO) 21 GJ energy (incl. rape cultivation), while produced biodiesel has 61 GJ energy capacity. It means the input energy is about triply valued.Energy demandingness of bioethanol production is larger, especially when it is made from corn.

Energy demandingness of conventional oil fuels is lesser than biofuel production.

SoJ:  Energetická náročnost výroby biopaliv závisí na použitých surovinách a úrovni technologie jejich pěstování, dále na technologii výroby vlastního biopaliva, na dopravě surovin a výrobků, na využití pobočných produktů a na energetickém obsahu vyráběného biopaliva. Hlavní výrobní jednotky bionafty v ČR spotřebují na výrobu jedné tuny paliva (MEŘO) 21 GJ energie (včetně pěstování řepky) a produkují se výrobky s energetickým obsahem 61 GJ. To znamená, že vložená energie se zhodnotí téměř trojnásobně.Energetická náročnost výroby bioetanolu je vyšší zvláště při výrobě z obilí. 

Energetická náročnost klasických ropných paliv je nižší než výroba biopaliv

ViG:  How much does biofuel transporting cost in the Czech Republic?  ViG:  Kolik činí náklady na dopravu biopaliva v ČR?
SoJ:  In view of using only own feedstocks for biofuel production and due to the fact that factories producing biofuels (refineries) are situated close to users transporting expenses are minimal. In comparison with the most of EU states they are very reasonable.   SoJ:  Vzhledem k tomu, že se k výrobě biopaliv využívají zemědělské produkty vlastní produkce a výrobní jednotky biopaliv jsou instalovány v blízkosti uživatelů (rafinerie) jsou dopravní náklady minimální a proti většině států EU jsou velmi příznivé.

Abbreviations used in the Interview

k, th. = thousand

TOE = Metric Tons of Oil Equivalent

kTOE = thousand of Metric Tons of Oil Equivalent                                               

 REN21 = Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century  

(http://www.ren21.net )


About writing essays, professional reports, etc.

December 16, 2009
1 Comment
By Galina Vitkova


I have recently read an interesting article by Charles Howell titled Writing Your Report – 5 Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make. I have been very surprised by how some situations described in the article are similar to my experience. Really many students make mistakes, which easily avoidable.


First of all, a citation from the article

“For some reason, students writing papers love to use extremely long sentences. Some do this to fill up the page requirements, while others do it to appear as if they know more about the subject and sound ‘scholarly’. Narrative is good, but don’t let it become fluff.”

My students also love writing too long sentences. Some of them are able to write a 100 word long essay comprising only one sentence. These are really extremely long sentences, but I quite usually recommend dividing of a long sentence in an essay into two or even three shorter sentences. However, I am of opinion that students cannot stop in explaining or narrating their thoughts rather than they try to make the teacher think how clever and erudite they are.

Whatever the case may be I admire and endorse a slogan K.I.S.S. introduced by the author of the article, which means “Keep It Short and Simple”. It seems to be great and pertinent in this case.


Another citation:

“If you are doing technical writing, or scientific writing avoid using passive sentences. these documents should be as straightforward as possible, especially if you ever want to see them published. Try to keep in mind that in scientific papers, people will be trying to reproduce your experiments. These people will not always be native English speakers, and will be more impressed with an easily understandable report than one from somebody who tried to use too much jargon in order to seem like an expert.”

I am afraid in this case I cannot agree with the author. In my opinion passive sentences are very frequently used in technical writing for one serious reason. In technical writing as a rule we very often need to explain or describe how a procedure, equipment, software program, etc. work or function. Their executor is usually not so important. Let us consider for instance pairs of sentences:



Active Voice

Passive Voice



Microsoft released Windows 7 on 22 October 2009.

Windows 7 was released (by Microsoft – usually it is not necessary to add that) on 22 October 2009.


Americans built the first solar power plant, which supplies electricity to the local electricity network, in the desert Mojave in California.

The first solar power plant, which supplies electricity to the local electricity network, was built (by Americans –it is not commonly said, it is clear) in the desert Mojave in California.


The computer controls a robot´s physical body,

A robot´s physical body (“body” is important, so it should be on the first place) is controlled by the computer.


Joints connect together the individual segments of a robot´s physical body.

 The individual segments of a robot´s physical body are connected together with joints (joints could connect together many things, but for us it is important that robots´body segments are connected with joints ).





All examples in column B – the passive voice, and they are much more effective than in column A and get to the point.

So, use the passive voice when you want to emphasize actions, results of actions etc. not the person responsible for the action or the source of the action etc.


Let us consider another citation:

“I can’t believe that it’s necessary to write about this, but every time I get a batch of reports, there are numerous spelling errors in as many as half of them. Being able to spell correctly is one of the key effective writing skills that teachers notice immediately. It doesn’t matter how well written your report is if, when the teacher looks over it again there are red marks on every page. Deciding the final score on an academic report is a VERY subjective process, and those red marks really DO make a difference. Every word processing program on the market had a decent spell checker – USE IT!”

I have quite the same experience. Although every editor has a check speller at present, many students do not use it. And not anywhere near they use the thesaurus (see Thesaurus – what’s up with it) to make their writing more beautiful and attractive for readers.


And finally about the proper format of writing

In English technical or professional writing it needs to keep some style. When issuing a technical report, an essay, or offering and article to a journal, newspaper or somewhere like that everything should be written in a style which a publisher demands. So take it seriously. Remember that technical writing is a tool of non-verbal communication for science and technical projects and you should respect appropriate rules when communicating.

If you aren’t sure about the writing format, which, for example, the journal where you would like to publish your writing demands, ask them. You might even ask them for a few writing samples you can look at to make sure you get the formatting correct. Some publishers are very picky about this. Find out what format this or that journal or other publisher demands and use it.

There are four styles recommended for usage in professional writing. It means if you write something for English or American journals use formats APA style or MLA style or Chicago/Turabian style or StyleEase.

For those who have never about these styles of writing, there is short information on a proper format of style from Wikipedia:


MLA (Modern Language Association of America)style

The newest MLA is characterized in the third edition MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (2008) The manual was first published by the Modern Language Association of America in 1985. It is an academicstyle guide widely used in the United States, Canada, and other countries. It provides guidelines for writing and documenting research in the humanities, especially in English studies. The MLA’s “guidelines are also used by over 1,100 scholarly and literary journals, newsletters, and magazines and by many university and commercial presses”. Moreover, they are “followed throughout North America and in Brazil, China, India, Japan, Taiwan, and other countries around the world”.


APA (American Psychological Association) style

APA Style was first developed 80 years ago by a group of social scientists who wanted to establish sound standards of communication. Since then, it has been adopted by leaders in many fields and has been used by writers around the world.

The best scientific writing is scanty and straightforward. It draws attention to the ideas being presented.  So, the manuscript structure, word choice, punctuation, graphics, and references are all chosen to move the idea forward with a minimum of distraction and a maximum of precision. The APA rules of style concern punctuation and abbreviations, construction of tables, selection of headings, citation of references, and presentation of statistics.

APA style rules and guidelines are set out in a reference book titled The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.

Chicago/Turabian style

This is a Chicago style of writing and formatting research reports, theses, and dissertations, for students and researchers developed in the University of Chicago and commonly known as Turabian style. The newest version of A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations comprising appropriate rules is published by the University of Chicago Press in November 2009. The style includes International Standard Bibliographic Description , too.

Style  Ease

StyleEase has been producing great software for academic writers since 1991. If you’re really uncertain about formatting and you do not know publisher´s requirements, get a formatting tool like StyleEase to make it easier. There are four software tools for that, i.e. StyleEase for APA Style,  StyleEase for MLA Style, StyleEase for Chicago/Turabian Style, and StyleEase for Seminary Style.

Just remember what is recommended above and check everything you have written before handing your piece of work in.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wikiWikipedia – free encyclopedia


History of Microsoft Windows

October 29, 2009
1 Comment
                                                        Composed by G. Vitkova using Wikipedia, the free enciclopedia

 1983 – Microsoft announced the development of Windows, a Graphical User Interface (GUI) for its own operating system (MS-DOS), which it had shipped for IBM PC and compatible computers since 1981. Since then, Microsoft has delivered many versions of Windows, and the product line has changed from a GUI to a modern operating system.

1985 – The first independent version of Microsoft Windows, version 1.0, was released, but achieved little popularity.

1987 – Microsoft Windows version 2 came out, and proved slightly more popular than its predecessor. Later, two new versions were released: Windows/286 2.1 and Windows/386 2.1.

1990 – Microsoft Windows scored a significant success with Windows 3.0. Its user interface was finally a serious competitor to the user interface of the Macintosh computer.

1992 – In response to the impending release of OS/2 2.0, Microsoft developed Windows 3.1 , which included several minor improvements to Windows3.0 (such as display of True Type scalable fonts, developed jointly with Apple), but primarily consisted of bugfixes and multimedia support. Later Microsoft also released Windows 3.11, a touch-up to Windows 3.1 which included all of the patches and updates that followed the release of Windows 3.1 in 1992.


1992 July – Windows NT 3.1 arrived in Beta form to developers. Its features made Windows NT perfect for theLAN server market Windows NT version 3.51 was Microsoft’s entry into this field, and took away market share from Novell (the dominant player) in the following years.

1995 – Windows 95 was launched. After Windows 3.11 Microsoft began to develop a new user oriented version of the operating system. The system was designed to have support for 32-bit multitasking like OS/2 and Windows NT, although a 16-bit kernel would remain for the sake of backward compatibility. The Win32 API first introduced with Windows NT was adopted as the standard 32-bit programming interface, with Win16 compatibility being preserved through a technique known as „thunking“.

Microsoft released Windows NT 4.0, which features the new Windows 95 interface on top of the Windows NT kernel.

1998 – Microsoft released Windows 98. It included new hardware drivers and better support for the FAT32 (File Allocation Table) system, which allows support for disk partitions larger than the 2 GB maximum. The USB support in Windows 98 is far superior to the token, unreliable support provided by the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) editions of Windows 95. It also controversially integrated the Internet Explorer browser into the Windows GUI and Windows Explorer file manager. This act prompted the opening of the United States vs. Microsoft case. It dealt with Microsoft abuse of its hold on the PC operating system market to unfairly compete with companies such as Netscape.

1999 – Microsoft released the Windows 98 Second Edition, an interim release whose most notable feature was the addition of Internet Connection Sharing, which was a form of network address translation, allowing several machines on a LAN (Local Area Network) to share a single Internet Connection. The Second Edition was also much easier to use and much smoother than the first edition of Windows 98. Hardware support through device drivers was increased. Many minor problems present in the original Windows 98 were found and fixed which make it the most stable release of Windows 9x.

2000 February – Microsoft released Windows 2000. It was successfully deployed both on the server and the workstation markets.

2000 September – Microsoft introduced Windows ME (Millennium Edition), which upgraded Windows 98 with enhanced multimedia and Internet features. It also introduced the first version of System Restore, which allowed users to revert their system state to a previous “known-good” point in the case of system failure. System Restore was a notable feature that made its way into Windows XP. The first version of Windows Movie Maker was introduced as well.

2003 – Microsoft launched Windows Server 2003, a notable update to Windows 2000.

2006 – Microsoft released a thin-client of Windows XP Service Pack 2, called Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs (WinFLP).

2007 – Windows Home Server was announced by Bill Gates. It is a server product based on Windows Server 2003, designed for consumer use. This Server can be configured and monitored using a console program that can be installed on a client PC. Such features as Media Sharing, local and remote drive backup and file duplication are all listed as features.

2006 – Windows Vista was released on November 30 to business customers, following by user versions on January 30, 2007. Windows Vista intended to have enhanced security by introducing a new restricted user mode called User Account Control, replacing the “administrator-by-default” philosophy of Windows XP.

2008 – Windows Server 2008 was released on February 27. It builds on the technological and security advances first introduced with Windows Vista, and is significantly more modular than its predecessor, Windows Server 2003. This year later Microsoft announced Windows Server 2008 R2 as the server variant of Windows 7. Windows Server 2008 R2 will ship in 64-bit (x64x and Itanium) only.

Windows 7 ships in six editions:

  • Starter (available worldwide with new PCs only)
  • Home Basic (only available to emerging markets)
  • Home Premium
  • Professional
  • Enterprise (available to volume-license business customers only)
  • Ultimate (available to retail market with limited availability to OEMs)

Microsoft focuses on selling Windows 7 Home Premium and Professional. All editions, except the Starter edition, are available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions.

Windows 8Development of the planned Windows 8 is secret detailed in public, although job listings have mentioned improved functionality for file access.

References: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_7


Genetics for common people

October 19, 2009
Composed by G. Vitkova using Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Dear coleagues,

About two – three weeks ago ethical problems around cloning aroused my student’s interest in the topic. We began to study it within our lesson of technical or professional English. However, we very quickly found out that basic knowledge of genetics is quite necessary to be able to understand the essence of the problem. So, the text below has appeared. I hope the text will launch the the discussion the issue that concerns everybody. Thank you in advance for your contribution.   G.Vitkova


We learn English studying and discussing real issues



Genetics studies genes, their function, structure and interaction. Genes enanle living organisms to inherit features from their ancestors. Genetics attempts to identify which features are inherited, and explain how these features are passed from generation to generation.

In genetics, a feature of an organism is called a “trait“. There are many trait types, and these range from aspects of behavior to resistance to disease. Traits are often inherited, for example tall and thin people tend to have tall and thin children. But the interaction between inherited features and the environment may influence the final result. For example a child might inherit the tendency to be tall, but if little food is available and the child is poorly nourished, it will still be short.

Genetic information is encoded via a long molecule called DNA which is copied and inherited across generations (see the picture above). Traits are transferred in DNA as instructions for creating and operating an organism.

These instructions are contained in segments of DNA called genes. The order of genes in DNA makes up the genetic code. This is similar to the sequence of letters forming words. The organism “reads” the sequence of these units and decodes the instruction. Different forms of one type of a gene are called alleles of that gene. As an example, one allele of a gene for hair color could comprises the instruction to produce a lot of the pigment in black hair. Another allele could give a garbled version of this instruction, so that no pigment is produced and the hair is white.


Genetics glossary




A long molecule that looks like a twisted ladder. It is made of four types of simple units and the sequence of these units carries information, just as the sequence of letters carries information on a page (see picture on the left).


They form the rungs of the DNA ladder and are the repeating units in DNA. There are four types of nucleotides (A, T, G and C) and it is the sequence of these nucleotides that carries information.


A package for carrying DNA in the cells. They contain a single long piece of DNA that is wound up and bunched together into a compact structure. Different species of plants and animals have different numbers and sizes of chromosomes.


A segment of DNA. Genes are like sentences made of the “letters” of the nucleotide alphabet, between them genes direct the physical development and behavior of an organism. Genes are like a recipe or instruction book, providing information that an organism needs so it can build or do something – like making an eye or a leg, or repairing a wound.


The different forms of a given gene that an organism may possess. For example, in humans, one allele of the eye-color gene produces green eyes and another allele of the eye-color gene produces brown eyes.


The complete set of genes in a particular organism.

Genetic engineering

When people change an organism by adding new genes, or deleting genes from its genome.


An event that changes the sequence of the genes in DNA

Genes are copied

Genes are copied each time a cell divides into two new cells. The process of copying DNA is called DNA replication.

DNA can be copied very easily and accurately because each piece of DNA can direct the creation of a new copy of its information. This is because DNA is made of two strands that pair together like the two sides of a zipper. The nucleotides are in the center, like the teeth in the zipper, and pair up to hold the two strands together.

When DNA is copied, the two strands of the old DNA are pulled apart by enzymes which move along each of the two single strands pairing up new nucleotide units and then zipping the strands closed. As a result two new pieces of DNA appear. Each of them contains one strand from the old DNA and one newly made strand. This process isn’t perfect and sometimes the wrong nucleotide may be put into the new strand. It causes a change in the sequence of the gene. These changes in DNA sequence are called mutations. Mutations produce new alleles of genes. Sometimes these changes stop the gene from working properly. In other cases the mutations can change what the gene does or even let it do its job a little better than before. These mutations and their effects on the traits of organisms are one of the causes of evolution.

Genetic engineering

Since traits come from the genes in a cell, putting a new piece of DNA into a cell can produce a new trait. This is how genetic engineering works. For example, crop plants can be given a gene from an Arctic fish, so they produce an antifreeze protein in their leaves. This can help prevent frost damage. Other genes that can be put into crops include a natural insecticide from the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis. The insecticide kills insects that eat the plants, but is harmless to people. In these plants the new genes are put into the plant before it is grown, so the genes will be in every part of the plant, including its seeds. The plant’s offspring will then inherit the new genes, something which has led to concern about the spread of new traits into wild plants.

The kind of technology used in genetic engineering is also being developed to treat people with genetic disorders in an experimental medical technique called gene therapy. However, here the new gene is put in after the person has grown up and become ill, so any new gene will not be inherited by their children. Gene therapy works by trying to replace the allele that causes the disease with an allele that will work properly.

Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms

The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) created the Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms to help people without scientific backgrounds understand the terms and concepts used in genetic research. Simply click on the term of interest to open a page with a wealth of information, including the term’s pronunciation, audio information, images and additional links to related terms. Students, teachers and parents will find the glossary an easy-to-use, always available learning source on source on genetics. For more information go to the Guide to the Talking Glossary:


About renewables position just now

September 6, 2009

Compiled by Galina Vitkova

Renewable sources of energy are a hot problem till now. Many specialists, politicians and common peoples discuss advantages and drawbacks of alternative sources of energy. Especially solar, wind and water energy attract debatersˇ attention.

 Since 2004 several international organizations dealing with renewables have been established. The Political Declaration of the International Conference for Renewable Energies in Bonn, Germany in 2004 – initiated the establishment of a global policy network. One year later, in June 2005, the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) was officially launched in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The strategy of the Network is directed by the Steering Committee of REN21 comprising eminent and prestigious specialists. The Steering Committee members work for various governments, private sector, and civil organisations over all the world. The Secretariat of REN21 is located in Paris, France, and is supported by the IEA.

REN21 strives to encourage the ideas and actions aimed at advance of renewable energy exploitation. Linking participants from the energy, development, and environment communities, REN21 sustains their successes and activities for the rapid expansion of renewable energy worldwide.

 In 2009 REN21 updated the Renewables 2007 Global Status Report, published in March 2008. The updated Report covers the most important changes in renewables worldwide between late 2007 and early 2009. The original 2007 report is available at http://www.ren21.net.

See below the aggregated data about the state-of-art in this industry



From the report we see that even if the renewable sector driven by policy has been expanding, its share in the worldwide energy production is insignificant. I wonder how this energy will be able to substitute in the near future the energy, which is produced by coal- or oil-fired power plants,

What about you dear colleagues? Does the problem concern you?


See Renewable energy – our downfall? By Ralph Ellis for more information


Reference: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ , www.ren21.net



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