Why Technical English

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.

 

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Speech and Handwriting Recognition in Windows 7

March 30, 2010
6 Comments

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).

Handwriting

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.

 


Renewables are becoming more and more popular

January 23, 2010
3 Comments
Composed by Galina Vitkova

REN21 (Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century) has just issued the newest information about the current renewable policy and its realisation in the form of Renewables Interactive Map (beta-version). The Map can be found on the REN21 website, at http://www.ren21.net/mapThe map contains a great deal of information on renewable energy, including support policies, expansion targets, current shares, installed capacity, current production, future scenarios, policy pledges, etc. It enables you to immediately gain by simple clicking on the country of your interest, depicted on the world geographic map, the current information about:

  • Renewables in General:
  • ♦ Policies (feed-in tariff, investment tax credits, net metering, etc)
  • ♦ Targets (final energy, primary energy, electricity, heating/cooling, etc)
  • ♦ Scenarios (before 2020, after 2020 up to 2050)
  • ♦ Others
  • Statistics (global and for individual participating countries) on geothermal energy, wind energy, solar energy, biofules (mainly ethanol)
  • Information about all kind of renewable which the country concerns (energy of wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, biomass), again for the world and for world regions
  • Technologies in use
  • And others

So the map serves as a central access-point to current renewable energy information, which is very comfortable. Moreover, you will find unknown for you concepts in the glossary accessed from the map.

REN21 has already ensured authentic information for several years, in particular through its Renewables Global Status Report. A new tool, the Renewables Interactive Map is intended to trail more closely the dynamic development of renewable energy production and market development. Furthermore, it provides disaggregated information for particular countries and technologies (see aggregated information on the topic at this blog too, About renewables position just now ).

Studying renewable energy information you improve your technical English, enjoying competent technical texts. Moreover, at the same time you gain very advantageous and comprehensive information about things which we all depend on.

Find below aggregated statistics which denote:

  • Geothermal  energy  (cumulative installed geothermal power capacity in MW)
  • Solar  energy  (cumulative  installed  photovoltaic (PV) power in MW)
  • Wind energy (cumulative  installed capacity  of wind turbines in MW)
  • Fuel ethanol (production in thousand tonnes oil equivalent).

Study the statistics of worldwide renewables adopted from http://www.bp.com/liveassets/bp_internet/globalbp/globalbp_uk_english/reports_and_publications/statistical_energy_review_2008/STAGING/local_assets/2009_downloads/renewables_section_2009.pdf.

Notice the column „Change 08 over 07“.  It demonstrates that in 2008 capacity of renewables installations is increase in comparison with 2007.   For example, production of ethanol in the USA increased by 42.0 % and makes 52.2 % world production of ethanol. In Europe the production increased by 50.8, but makes only 3.8 % world production of this biofuel. Statistics about usage of solar energy usage in Europe are of particular interest. For example, total increase of cumulative  installed  photovoltaic (PV) power counts up to 69.1 %, where Germany increased its solar  installed  PV power by 37.5 %(40,9 % of world total) and Spain had the growth of its solar  installed  PV power by 422.2 % (24.5 % of world total).

Geothermal  energy (MW)

2008

Change 08 over 07
Share of total
Indonesia

1 042.5

6.1 %

10.0 %

Italy

810.5

– 

7.7 %

Japan

537.3

5.1 %

Mexico

964.5

0.5 %

9.2 %

New Zealand

586.6

24.4 %

5.6 %

Philippine

1 780.0

18.9 %

USA

2 998

2.1 %

28.6 %

Total

10 469.0

4.2 %

100 %

  

Solar energy (MW)

  

2008

 

Change 08 over 07
 
Share of total

North America

1 226.7

39.9 %

9.1 %

incl.:  USA

1 172.5

41.2 %

8.7 %

Europe (without Russian Federation)

9 614.9

92.3 %

71.5 %

 incl.: Germany

5 498.0

37.5 %

40.9 %

 incl.:  Spain

3 291.2

422.2 %

24.5 %

Others

2 603.3

25.1 %

19.4 % 

incl.:  Japan

2 148.9

12.0 %

16.0 %

Total

13 444.9

69.1 %

100 %

 

Wind  energy (MW)

2008

Change 08 over 07
Share of total
North America  

27 940

48.6 %

22.9 %

incl.:  USA

25 237

49.5 %

20.7 %

Europe+Euroasia

65 998

68.2 %

54.0 %

incl.:    Germany

23 933

7.4 %

19.6 %

incl.:   Spain

16 543

12.4 %

13.5 %

Asia Pacific

26 446

59.8 %

21.6 %

incl.:  China

12 121

106.3%

9.9 %

incl.:  India

9 655

23.1 %

7.9 %

Total

122 158

29.9 %

100 %

Fuel  ethanol (thousand tonnes)

2008

Change 08 over 07
Share of total

North America

18 154

42.0 %

52.2 %

incl.:  USA

17 460

41.3 %

50.2 %

South America

13 723

19.7 %

39.4 %

incl.:  Brasilia

13 549

20.0 %

38.2 %

Europe

1337

50.8 %

3.8 %

Asia Pacific

1 586

10.4 %

4.6 %

incl.:  China

1 021

– 2.4 %

2.9 %

Total

34 800

30.9 %

100 %

        

Note: About REN21

REN21 (Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century)  is a global policy network that provides a forum for international leadership on renewable energy. Its goal is to encourage the policy of development and the rapid expansion of renewable energies in developing and industrialised economies.

 

 


Short communication on multi-touch

December 27, 2009
1 Comment
By Galina Vitkova

It is just to attract your attention, dear colleagues and friend of Technical English, to an extremely interesting and incentive contemplation in Multi touch computing change the next generation of computer  on the blog http://gyandotcom.wordpress.com/ . The post was written more than a year ago, but its challenges remains tremendous till now. It is rather long and the main points turn on the following ideas:

  • multi-touch computing technology enables to communicate with a computer using all 10 fingers, not only touching the screen by one finger.
  • Moreover, more people can touch the wall size screen simultaneously; or it could be several screens connected to one green
  • Perceptive Pixels beginning and achievements and their role in development of modern multi-touch
  • Perhaps most fundamental was exploiting an optical effect known as frustrated total internal reflection (FTIR), which is also used in fingerprint-recognition equipment.
  • Attempts and efforts made by Microsoft, Mitsubishi Wired In and other large, well-known companies are routed to find out the best solution and results of their work are astounding.

My advice – read the post and enjoy it!

            Reference:   http://gyandotcom.wordpress.com/


Handwriting recognition and Windows 7

December 25, 2009
1 Comment
Compiled by Galina Vitkova

Handwriting recognition concerns the ability of a computer to get and interpret comprehensible handwritten input from paper documents, photographs, touch-screens and other devices. Two varieties of hhandwriting recognition are principally distinguished: off-line and on-line. The image of the written text may be estimated “off line” from a piece of paper by optical scanning through OCR (optical character recognition) or by IWR (intelligent word recognition). As contrasted to “off-line handwriting recognition”, under “on line handwriting recognitiona real-time digitizing tablet is used for input, for example, by a pen-based computer screen surface.

 Off-line recognition

Off-line handwriting recognition involves the automatic conversion of text into letter codes, which are usable within computer and text-processing applications. The data obtained by this form is regarded as a static representation of handwriting.

The technology is successfully used by businesses which process lots of handwritten documents, like insurance companies. The quality of recognition can be substantially increased by structuring the document, for example, by using forms.

The off-line handwriting recognition is relatively difficult because people have different handwriting styles. Nevertheless, limiting the range of input can allow recognition to be improved. For example, the ZIP code digits are generally read by computer to sort the incoming mail.

In optical character recognition (OCR) typewritten or printed text (usually captured by a scanner) is mechanically or electronically conversed into machine-editable text. When one scans a paper page into a computer, the process results in just an image file a photo of the page. Then OCR software converts it into a text or word processor file.

Intelligent Word Recognition, or IWR, is the recognition of unconstrained handwritten words. IWR recognizes entire handwritten words or phrases instead of character-by-character, like OCR. IWR technology matches handwritten or printed words to a user-defined dictionary, It leads to significantly reducing character errors encountered in typical character-based recognition engines. IWR also eliminates a large percentage of the manual data entry of handwritten documents that, in the past, could be detected only by a human.

New technology on the market utilizes IWR, OCR, and ICR (intelligent character recognition, i.e. an advanced optical character recognition) together. For example, most ICR software has a self-learning system referred to as a neural network, which automatically updates the recognition database for new handwriting patterns. All these achievements open many possibilities for the processing of documents, either constrained (hand printed or machine printed) or unconstrained (freeform cursive). Moreover, a complete handwriting recognition system, as a rule, also handles formatting, performs correct segmentation into characters and finds the most plausible words.

 On-line recognition

On-line handwriting recognition involves the automatic conversion of text as it is written on a special digitizer or a personal digital assistant (PDA), which is a mobile device, also known as a palmtop computer. PDA sensor picks up the pen-tip movements as well as pen-up/pen-down switching. The obtained signal is converted into letter codes which are usable within computer and text-processing applications.

The elements of an on-line handwriting recognition interface typically include:

  • A pen or stylus for the user to write with.
  • A touch sensitive surface, which may be integrated with, or adjacent to, an output display.
  • A software application which interprets the movements of the stylus across the writing surface, translating the resulting strokes into digital text.

Commercial products incorporating handwriting recognition as a replacement for keyboard input were introduced in the early 1980s. Since then advancements in electronics have allowed the computing power necessary for handwriting recognition to fit into a smaller form factor than tablet computers, and handwriting recognition is often used as an input method for hand-held PDAs. Modern handwriting recognition systems are often based on Time Delayed Neural Network (TDNN) classifier, nicknamed “Inferno”, built at Microsoft.

In recent years, several attempts were made to produce ink pens that include digital elements, such that a person could write on paper, and have the resulting text stored digitally. The best known of these use technology developed by Anoto (see also Discussion – The Digital Pen), which has had some success in the education market. The general success of these products is yet to be determined. Nevertheless, a number of companies develop software for digital pens based on Anoto technology.

                                                                             

 

 

 

 

 

Handwriting in Windows 7

According to Mountain View, CA, December 1, 2009 – PhatWare Corporation announces the launch of the latest version of PenOffice (PenOffice 3.3), which works with Microsoft Windows 7 and Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2. PhatWare Corporation is a leading provider of software products and professional services for mobile and desktop computers. Its new product offers customers enhanced security and innovative user interface features. PenOffice 3.3 is an advanced pen-enabled collaboration and handwriting recognition software for Microsoft Windows-based computers. It can be used with any pointing input device, such as graphic tablet, interactive while board, touch screen monitor, Tablet PC, online digital pen, and even standard computer mouse.

In compliance with Stan Miasnikov, president of PhatWare Corp. “Making application compatible with Microsoft Windows 7 and Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 helps us offer our customers compelling benefits, including intuitive user interfaces such as pen-based collaboration, improved security and reliability features, full support for multi-core processing, and sophisticated configuration and management features to improve mobile working.”

Although handwriting recognition is an input form that the public has become accustomed to, it has not achieved widespread use in either desktop computers or laptops. It is still generally accepted that keyboard input is both faster and more reliable. As of 2006many PDAs offer handwriting input, sometimes even accepting natural cursive handwriting, but accuracy is still a problem, and some people still find even a simple on-screen keyboard more efficient.

 

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/

                                          


Multi-touch functions of Windows 7

December 18, 2009
2 Comments
                                                                                                 Compiled by Galina Vitkova

Already in 2007 Windows 7 were said to have new touch features. An overview of the multi-touch capabilities, including a virtual piano program, a mapping and directions program and a touch-aware version of Paint, was demonstrated at the All Things Digital Conference on May 27, 2008. A video demonstrating the multi-touch capabilities was later made available on the web.

Let us specify some necessary term. A touchscreen is a display that can detect the presence and location of a touch by a finger or hand within the display area. The touchscreen has two main properties. First, it enables one to interact with what is displayed directly on the screen. Second, it lets one do so without requiring any intermediate device, again, like a stylus, for instance. Such displays can be attached to computers or, as terminals, to networks. They also play a prominent role in the design of digital appliances such as the personal digital assistant (PDA), satellite navigation devices, mobile phones, and video games.

Multi-Touch, which is a trademark of Apple, Inc., concerns the same technology that allows the user to interact with the device by placing two or more fingers directly onto the surface of the screen. The movement of the fingers across the screen creates gestures, which send commands to the device.

Gesture recognition is topically used in computer science and language technology for goal interpreting human gestures via mathematical algorithms. Gestures can originate from any bodily motion or state but commonly originate from the face or hand. Current focuses in the field include emotion recognition from the face and hand gesture recognition. The gesture recognition can be seen as a way for computers to begin to understand human body language. Thus it may build a more sophisticated connection between machines and humans than primitive text user interfaces or even GUIs (graphical user interfaces), which still embraces the majority of input to keyboard and mouse.

However, the gesture recognition enables humans to interface with the machine (HMI) and interact naturally without any mechanical devices. Using the concept of gesture recognition, it is possible to point a finger at the computer screen so that the cursor will move accordingly. This could potentially make conventional input devices such as mouse, keyboards and even touch-screens redundant. Finally, gesture recognition can be conducted with techniques from computer vision and image processing.

In general, multi-touch requires a touch screen (screen, overlay, table, wall, etc.) or touchpad, as well as software that recognizes multiple simultaneous touch points, as opposed to the single touch screen, which recognizes only one touch point. This effect is achieved through a variety of means, including heat, finger pressure, high capture rate cameras, infrared light, optic capture, tuned electromagnetic induction, ultrasonic receivers, transducer microphones, laser rangefinders, and shadow capture.

Although the first hints and discussions of multi-touch technology appeared already at the end of 20th century, mainstream exposure to this technology occurred in 2007, when Apple unveiled the iPhone and Microsoft debuted surface computing. The iPhone in particular has spawned a wave of interest in multi-touch computing because it permits greatly increased user interaction on a small scale. Gradually more robust and user-friendly multi-touch and gesture-based solutions have been becoming available.

Windows 7 is the first version of Windows that supports multi-touch without the addition of third party add-ons.(See for more details Multi-Touch Systems that I Have Known and Loved by Bill Buxton). The operating system is known to have a multi-touch mapping application, photo viewing program, and incorporation in Internet Explorer 8. In January 2009, Microsoft joined with other investors who invested twenty-four million dollars in N-Trig Ltd., which plans to make computer hardware that takes advantage of Windows 7’s multi-touch support.

In the end let´s put some notes on a touch-aware version of Paint (formerly Paintbrush for Windows). It is a simple graphics painting program that has been included with all versions of Microsoft Windows. It is often referred to as MS Paint or Microsoft Paint. The program opens and saves files as Windows bitmap with the .bmp extension, JPEG, GIF (without animation), PNG (without alpha channel), and TIFF (without the multiple pages). The program can be in colour mode or two-colour black-and-white, but there is no grayscale mode. For its simplicity, it rapidly became one of the most used applications in the early versions of Windows and still has strong associations with the immediate usability of the old Windows workspace.

The Windows 7 version of paint makes use of the Ribbon UI (User Inteface).   In GUI-based application software, a ribbon is an interface where a set of toolbars are placed on tabs in a tab bar. Recent releases of some Microsoft applications have comprised this form with an tricky modular ribbon as their main interface. The Ribbon can also contain tabs to expose different sets of control elements eliminating the need for a lot of different icon based toolbars.

It similarly provides “artistic” brushes composed of varying shades of gray and some transparency that give a more realistic result. In order to increase feeling of the realism, the oil and water colour brushes can only paint for a small distance before the user must re-click. This gives the illusion that the paint brush has run out of paint. It l has anti-aliased shapes as well, which can be resized freely until they are rasterised when another tool is selected. This version supports viewing (but not saving) transparent PNG and ICO file formats and saves in the PNG file format by default.

References:

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia –  http://en.wikipedia.org


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

 

1

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.

2

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.

3

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.

4

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.

References:

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

http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Charles_Howell


Windows 7

October 28, 2009
5 Comments
                                                        Composed by G. Vitkova using Wikipedia, the free enciclopedia

Windows 7 launched

Windows 7 is the latest version of Microsoft Windows produced for use on home and business desktops, laptops, netbooks, tablet personal computers and media center of personal computers. Windows 7  was released to manufacturing on July 22, 2009. General retail availability was announced on October 22, 2009, less than three years after the release of its predecessor, Windows Vista. 

Unlike Windows Vista, which introduced a large number of new features, Windows 7 is intended to be a more user focused, helpful upgrade to the Windows line. As a result Windows 7 is fully compatible with applications and hardware with which Windows Vista is already compatible. Some applications that have been included with prior releases of Microsoft Windows, including Windows Calendar, Windows Mail, Windows Movie Maker, and Windows Photo, are not involved in Windows 7. Several of them are instead offered separately as a part of the free Windows Live Essential Suite.

Goals

Earlier in 2007 Bill Gates in an interview with Newsweek, insinuated that this version of Windows would “be more user-centric”. Later he added that Windows 7 would also focus on performance improvements. Steven Sinofsky, the new president of the Windows division at Microsoft, responsible for the Windows, Windows Live, and Internet Explorer, afterward expanded on this point in the Engineering Windows 7 blog. He explicated that the company was using a variety of new tracing tools to measure the performance of many areas of the operating systém. The tools help locate inefficient code paths and prevent decrease of performance effectiveness.

The Senior Vice President Bill Veghte stated that Windows Vista users migrating to Windows 7 would not find the kind of device compatibility issues they met migrating from Windows XP. As early as in October 2008, the Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer confirmed compatibility between Vista and Windows 7, pointing out that Windows 7 would be a refined version of Windows Vista.

New and changed features

Windows 7 includes a number of new features, such as advances in touch and handwriting recognition, support for virtual hard disks, improved performance on multi-core processors, improved boot  performance, Direct Access, and kernel improvements. Windows 7 adds support for systems using multiple heterogeneous graphics cards from different vendors, a new version of Windows Media Center, the XML Paper Specification (XPS) Essentials Pack. Windows Power Shell, and a redesigned Calculator with multiline capabilities. Many new items have been added to the Control Panel, such as the Clear Type Text Tuner, Biometric Devices, System Icons, Display, etc. Windows 7 also supports Mac-like Raw image viewing plus full-size viewing and slideshows in the Windows Photo Viewer and Window Media Center.

Windows 7 includes 13 additional sound schemes, titled Afternoon, Calligraphy, Characters, Cityscape, Delta, Festival, Garden, Heritage, Landscape, Quirky, Raga, Savanna, and Sonata. A new version of a Windows Virtual PC Beta is available for Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions. It allows multiple Windows environments, including Windows XP Mode, to run on the same machine, requiring the use of Intel Virtualisation Technology for x86 (Intel VT-x) or AMD Virtualisation (AMD-V). Windows XP Mode runs Windows XP in a virtual machine and redirects displayed applications running in Windows XP to the Windows 7 desktop. Furthermore, Windows 7 supports the mounting of a virtual hard disk (VHD) as a normal data storage, and the bootloader delivered with Windows 7 can boot the Windows system from a VHD. The Remote Desktop Protokol (RDP) of Windows 7 is also enhanced to support real-time multimedia applications including video playback and 3D games.

The taskbar has seen the biggest visual changes, where the Quick Launch toolbar has been replaced with pinning applications to the taskbar. Buttons for pinned applications are integrated with the task buttons. The revamped taskbar also allows the reordering of taskbar buttons. To the far right of the system clock there is a small rectangular button that serves as the Show desktop icon. This button is a part of the new feature in Windows 7 called Aero Peek. Hovering over this button makes all visible windows transparent for a quick look at the desktop. In touch-enabled displays such as touch screens, tablet PCs, etc., this button is slightly wider to accommodate being pressed with a finger. Clicking this button minimizes all windows, and clicking it a second time restores them. Additionally, there is a feature named Aero Snap, which automatically maximizes a window when it is dragged to either the top or left/right edges of the screen. This also allows users to snap documents or files on either side of the screen to compare them.

Windows 7 taskbar includes a new networking API – Application Programming Interface for developers. It supports building Simple Object Access Protocol based (SOAP-based) web services in machine code, adds new features to shorten application installing time, reduced User Account Control (UAC) prompts, simplified development of installation packages, and improved worldwide support through a new Extended Linguistic Services API. As early as in 2008 Microsoft announced that colour depths of 30-bit and 48-bit would be supported in Windows 7. The video modes supported in Windows 7 are 16-bit  class=”hiddenSpellError” pre=”16-bit “>sRGB (standard Red Green Blue colour space), 24-bit sRGB, 30-bit sRGB, 30-bit with extended colour gamut sRGB, and 48-bit scRGB. Microsoft is also implementing better support for solid-state drives, so Windows 7 will be able to identify a solid-state drive uniquely. Microsoft is also planning to support USB 3.0 in a subsequent patch, although support would not be included in the initial release because of delays in the finalization of the standard.

Users will also be qualified to disable more Windows components than it was possible in Windows Vista. New additions to this list of components include Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, Windows Media Center, Windows Search , and the Windows Gadget Platform.

“The launch of Windows 7 has superseded everyone’s expectations, storming ahead of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as the biggest-grossing pre-order product of all-time, and demand is still going strong,” claimed managing director Brian McBride, Amazon UK on October 22, 2009.

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


Are you afraid of nuclear energy?

May 31, 2009
4 Comments
By Martin Wolny

I selected this topic because I always wanted to know something about nuclear technologies, nuclear energy and its application in modern equipment such as power plants and submarines. Many people are afraid of Temelín and nuclear power plants as they still brightly remember the explosion in the Russian nuclear power station in Chernobyl and the consequences that have had an impact on east European nations to this day. People all around the world wouldn’t be so afraid of nuclear energy.

The fuel for nuclear fission is a special isotope of metal uranium called U-235, which has 235 nucleons in its core. When a neutron hits such an atom of uranium, it splits the atom into two smaller ones. Within this process, two or three neutrons “fly” speedily out of the dissociated nucleus, dissociate other atoms and unleash more neutrons and energy from their cores. Thus the procedure goes on. This is how the chain reaction works.

And how does it all work in a nuclear power plant? The reactor, wherein the chain reaction runs, is cooled by cold water. The water flows through the pile, vaporizes into steam and then reels the turbine that drives the generator. After that the steam condenses and as water flows back into the reactor’s core. Adjusting rods, which are mostly manufactured out of cadmium or boron, regulate the speed of the nuclear reaction.

The greatest advantage is that electric current generated by nuclear reaction is extremely effective. Up to now, there has been no more efficient way discovered. One kilogram of dissociated uranium unleashes the amount of energy equal energy acquired by burning 25 tons of top black coal. Just imagine that! It’s 25,000 times more! Not to mention the devastated landscape and highly polluted air after coal mining. Another advantage, which is perhaps just plain fact, is that there’s still enough uranium to use. As we all know, the resources of both black and brown coal are decreasing and soon, all of the mines will be exhausted. And regrettably, there aren’t many places where you could effectively utilize solar energy, geothermal energy, waterpower or airpower. All the same, the effectiveness of such resources of power is relatively insufficient. So for the time being, the nuclear power plants are the only usable solution. Nor is the fact that nuclear power stations do not pollute air and produce minimum of unwanted spillover products in contradistinction to other power facilities omissible.

An average nuclear power plant produces just some 60 kilograms of highly radioactive toxic waste per year. Which is, on the other hand, rather disadvantageous. In fact, that’s a big problem. Approximately 2 per cent of these materials, such as plutonium, are frightfully dangerous substances. They need up to 1000 years to decompose, so that they aren’t radioactive and don’t ruin our health (by the way, if you inhale just one-millionth gram of plutonium, you are taken ill with cancer). The only available and reasonable solution is to store this fall-out in highly secured places. The last important negative is that despite thorough protection against radioactivity from the uranium used in a reactor, the small amount of radiance still gets out from a power plant. But since this radiance represents less than one-hundredth part of the natural sources of radioactivity such as minerals or rocks, this emission is completely imponderable.

I myself am for nuclear power plants because they are very efficient and they have almost no effect on the environment. Even though the running of them can be quite dangerous in a way, it’s still the only solution for generating a sufficient amount of electric energy after we have exploited all stocks of coal, petroleum and natural gas.

NOTE: We study English discussing current technical issues. Join us! Just answer the question: Are you afraid of nuclear energy? G. Vitkova


How to write a good essay

April 15, 2009
2 Comments

(Recommendations for students)

By Galina Vitkova

I believe that every intermediate student is able to write a good essay. Nevertheless, there are several aspects that you should take into consideration to be successful in writing. Some of them are as follows:

1. Study carefully the topic (e.g. a given technical text). Sometimes it is not so easy. If you are going to write an essay about computers or the Internet, use as much as possible the dictionaries Definitions of technical terms and general computing terminology or Internet technical terms.

2. Resolve about main ideas, based on an original text, which you would like to expose. Reserve for each idea one paragraph. One idea means one paragraph.

3. Write shorter sentences. Avoid long phrases widespread through the entire paragraph. You can always divide a long sentence into 2 or 3 shorter sentences. Connect these short sentences with the help of connectors like however, moreover, furthermore, nevertheless, so that etc.

4. Use synonyms as much as possible. Employ a thesaurus or a dictionary to find synonyms. Repeating of the same words and expressions in your writing as, for example, “so”, “use”, “in my opinion”, “I think” etc is annoying and doesn´t give the quality to any essay.

5. Don´t forget about articles. Check thoughtfully your essay from this point of view (see e.g.Students do not care about articles, Some details concerning a (an) and the) and prepositions (Prepositions in English).

6. When writing, remember English sentences have the fixed word order and do your best to keep it. If you aren´t sure about your English grammar, consult Ask about English,http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/language/askaboutenglish/

7. Reread the text and make improvements if necessary.

G o o d  l u c k !

Lost Paragraph, Jokikatu 2008

 

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