Why Technical English

Tactical Media and games

December 1, 2010
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Composed by Galina Vitkova

  

Introductory notes

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

Tactical Media in Video Games

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

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

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

Darfur is Dying description   

Camp of Darfuris internally displaced by the o...

Image via Wikipedia

Origination

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

 

Gameplay

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

 

Original caption states,

Image via Wikipedia

 Reception of the game

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

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

 

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Accumulate Your Vocabulary

September 25, 2010
2 Comments
                                          BGalina Vitkova   
 
  
          

Tips and steps

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

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

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

After building such lists you can memorize them successfully.

Vocabulary Trees                                 

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

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

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

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

Vocabulary Tables

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

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

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

 

850 Words for Basic Conversational Fluency

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

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

Below the hyperlinks to these 850 Words are given:

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

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

 Use more your Dictionary

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

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

References

PS:

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

 

 


What is the difference between PDF, XPS and OOXML?

May 28, 2010
2 Comments
By  PB

PDF stands for Portable Document Format, XPS means XML Paper Specification and OOXML is a written abbreviation of Open Office XML (Extensible Markup Language). PDF is specified by Adobe, whereas XPS and OOXML are specified by Microsoft. PDF uses a proprietary binary format, XPS employs XML and ZIP. PDF has been extended over the years to support all types of documents. Acrobat is a standard viewer of Adobe although there are many other solutions.

The primary advantage of XPS over PDF is its cost. XPS is available royalty free on Windows XP (an optional installation of NET Framework 3.0 is necessary), Vista and Windows7. XPS Viewers are also available for Mac, Linux and Unix platforms. From the technical viewpoint a benefit of XPS consists in using an XML format. For this reason Adobe has evolved a format Mars, which is a PDF rewrite to XML.  A unique feature of XPS is supporting Microsoft HD Photo (JPEG XR). All Microsoft Office 2007 applications like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access contain possibility to ´Save As XPS´ and in addition to ´Save As PDF´, too. From a viewpoint of an electronic exchange of XPS documents profit is that users can put their digital signature on XPS documents.

However, the current Microsoft XPS viewer is very slow and has few capabilities. This time XPS resembles PDF but PDF has better features in all areas. XPS faces problems with many types of fonts, TrueType and knockouts.

The future of XPS is not clear – the Microsoft Company must improve this product – especially its speed. After that it could be a usable tool.

 


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.

 


B i o f u e l s – do they interest you?

February 3, 2010
23 Comments

Composed by Galina Vitkova

 Biofuels belong to the most quickly developing branches of renewable energy sources, mainly due to oil price spikes and the need for increasing energy security. There are two main sorts of biofuels: bioethanol and biodiesel.

Bioethanol (also called biogasoline or simply ethanol) is an alcohol made by fermenting the sugar components of plant materials It is made mostly from sugar and starch crops. Technological process for producing ethanol requires as a rool a significant amount of energy (often unsustainable fossil fuel). Making ethanol from the sugar cane is less energy-consuming.

Ethanol can be used as a fuel for vehicles in its pure form, but it is usually added to a gasoline to increase octane and improve vehicle emissions. Most existing car petrol engines can run on blends of up to 15% bioethanol with petroleum/gasoline.Many car manufacturers are now producing flexible-fuel vehicles (FFV’s), which can safely run on any combination of bioethanol and petrol.

Bioethanol is widely used in the USA and in Brazil – see the table below:

Fuel ethanol

(thousand tonnes equivalent oil)

2008

Change 08

over 07

Share of total

USA 17 460 41.3 % 50.2 %
Brasilia 13 549 20.0 % 38.2 %
Europe 1337 50.8 % 3.8 %
Total world 34 800 30.9 % 100 %

 

The expanded table with the similar content could be found in Renewables are becoming more and more popular based on REN21 Interactive Map (beta-version).

Green diesel (biodiesel) is the most common biofuel used in Europe. It is a liquid similar in composition to fossil/mineral diesel. Feedstocks for biodiesel include animal fats, vegetable oils, soy, flax, sunflower, palm oil, hemp and many others. Pure biodiesel (B100) is the lowest emission diesel fuel.

Biodiesel can be used in any diesel engine when mixed with mineral diesel. The majority of vehicle manufacturers recommend to add up to 15% biodiesel blended with mineral diesel. Many current diesel engines are made to be able to run on B100 without altering the engine itself.

Since biodiesel is an effective solvent and cleans residues deposited by mineral diesel, engine filters may need to be replaced more often because the biofuel dissolves old deposits in the fuel tank and pipes. In many European countries, a 5% biodiesel blend is widely used and is available at thousands of gas stations. Biodiesel is safe to handle and transport (e.g. it has a high flashpoint of about 300 F (148 C) whereas petroleum diesel fuel has a flashpoint of 125 F (52 C)).

The structure of the USA buofuels resources is depicted on the chart below:

Second-generation biofuels production processes use non-food crops and do not divert food away from the animal or human food chain. These include waste biomass, the stalks of wheat, corn, wood, and special-energy-or-biomass crops (e.g. Miscanthus). Many second generation biofuels are under development such as biohydrogen, biomethanol, biohydrogen diesel, mixed alcohols, wood diesel etc.. For example, producing ethanol from cellulose is a difficult technical problem to solve. So in cellulosic ethanol laboratories, various experimental processes are being developed to simulate natural enzymatic digestive processes, typical for animals, to make ethanol fuel.

Scientists also work on experimental organisms using recombinant DNA genetic engineering (see also Genetics for common people) to increase biofuel potential. A technology to use industrial waste gases from steel mills as a feedstock for producing ethanol has been developed in New Zealand.

Third generation biofuel is a biofuel from algae. Algae are low-input, high-yield source biofuels. Based on laboratory experiments, it claimed that Algae can produces up to 30 times more energy per acre than land crops such as soybeans, but these yields have yet to be produced commercially. With the higher prices of fossil fuels, there is much interest in farming algae.

References:

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

REN21 Interactive Map (beta-version) – http://www.ren21.net/map/

 P S : You can find a lot of absorbing information about biofuels made of sugar cane on the blog http://sugarcaneblog.com

 


Windows 7 Taskbar

January 31, 2010
1 Comment
By P.B. 

In Windows 7 the Windows Taskbar has underwent the most significant revision since its introduction in Windows 95. In general, now it is rather application-oriented than window-oriented, When application runs, it is denoted by a border frame around its icon. When user runs some program or opens the folder, the preview of this program or folder without description appears on the screen (it is different from Vista or XP). So the user immediately gets information about opened windows and can easily switch among them.

Moreover, applications can easily be pinned to the taskbar. It enables the user to get instant access to the applications which are often used. Pinning applications to the taskbar can be done in two ways. First, you can simply drag and drop the icon onto the taskbar. Or you can do it by right-clicking the application icon and pinning the icon to the taskbar – similar to Windows XP or Vista.

Thumbnail previews

were already introduced in Windows Vista. In Windows 7 they have been expanded to also interact with them, i.e.:

  • The user can close any open a window by clicking the X on the corresponding thumbnail preview,
  • Hovering over the thumbnail preview you get a “peek” of the window.

The previews integrate Thumbnail Toolbars, which greatly enriched the Windows 7 taskbar. Actually these toolbars enable control the application from the thumbnail previews themselves (e.g. if Windows Media Player is opened and the mouse is hovering on its icon, the thumbnail preview will allow the user to Play, Stop, etc. without switching to the Windows Media Player window). 

Jump lists

are one of the best innovations you see in the Windows 7. By simply right-clicking an icon of an application on the taskbar, you are able to see a list of previous applications associated with that program. Furthermore, the list can be created holding the left mouse button and sliding up on an icon. Each list contains the information which corresponds to the features unique to the application (e.g. a Microsoft Word jump list might display all the recently opened documents). Up to 10 menu items may appear on a jump list by default, and Windows 7 provides possibility to adjust it. See below an example of a jump list (Fig. 1).

Fig.1 Jump Lists

Notification area has been redesigned in Windows 7. In addition to deciding whether the application icons are shown, the ability to hide each application’s notification balloons has been added. A triangle to the left of the visible notification icons displays the hidden notification icons to the user.

When an Aero Peek button is clicked, or hovered over with the mouse the desktop and gadgets are displayed by turning all windows transparent. Aero Peek exhibits the same features as the thumbnail previews, but it applies them to the desktop. If the mouse hovers over it, all windows are transparent, as shown in the picture. If the button is clicked, all applications are minimized and the user does not need to close or minimize windows or programs. When the button is clicked again, everything is restored.

Fig.2  The view before Aero Peek

Fig.2 The view before Aero Peek

 

Fig.  3  Aero Peek in action

Fig. 3 Aero Peek in action

 And in conclusion there is a very short note about a Basic desktop. The Sidebar applied in the Windows Vista has appeared not to be user friendly. So, it has been removed and now users can put gadgets (weather, calendar etc.) anywhere on the desktop.

  Key abbreviations for Windows 7

  • Alt + Tab: to switch the open windows with thumbnails
  • Alt + Ctrl + Tab: to switch the open windows with thumbnails which are open till the user presses ESC
  • Win + Tab: to switch the open windows with thumbnails which are open till the user presses ESC with 3D effect (not practical)
  • Win + D: to show the desktop (screen)
  • Win + E: to open the explorer on the Computer view
  • Win + F: to activate searching
  • Win + G: to switch among gadgets which are on the desktop (a new feature)
  • Win + L: to lock the computer
  • Win + R: to open the function Run
  • Win + X: to show the Centre of mobile devices (for notebooks)
  • Win + Pause: to open the window with system information
  • Ctrl + Shift + Esc: to show the Task manager (the window processes)
  • Win + Home: to „clean“ the desktop (all windows except the active window) – a new feature
  • Win + space: to show the desktop through windows – a new feature
  • Win + arrow to the left (right) half maximization to the left or right place on the desktop

 


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/

                                          


Windows Media Center

November 30, 2009
2 Comments
Composed by Galina Vitkova

Windows Media Center is an application with a 10-foot user interface designed to serve as a home-entertainment hub for the living-room TV. Windows XP Media Center Edition, premium editions of Windows Vista (Vista Home Premium and Vista Ultimate) and Windows 7 (all editions, except Starter and Home Basic) comprise it. The Media Center is controlled by special remote controls or remotes. At the same time it can be operated with a mouse and/or a keyboard, too. The Media Center plays the computer user’s pictures, videos, and music from local hard drives, optical drives, and network locations. All this is then categorized by name, date, tags, and other file attributes.

Media managed through the Media Center can also be relayed via a home network to standard TV sets via the specially designed Windows Media Center Extender or the Xbox 360. This allows to use the Media Center and its features (such as view photos, videos, listen to music, watch live television, watch recorded TV, etc.) on the television set or other display device.

The advantage with these devices is that the household’s primary computer (hosting the Media Center) can be physically set up in a location more appropriate for its role, instead of being in the living room. Furthermore, the Media Center with an Extender can be accessed at the same time by several users. The Xbox 360 gaming console is a very popular example of a Media Center Extender. By the way, Xbox 360 is the only device that can work as an extender with both Windows XP Media Center as well as Windows Vista Media Center.

Windows 7 Media Center comprises all prosperous characteristics of its forerunners and brings new possibilities. Thus the performance improvement on Extenders is immediately apparent especially with the play functions like fast forward, rewind, and skip. The menus are also more manageable. The other big improvement concerns EPG (Electronic program guide), which makes utilities like Guide Tool possible. The Guide Tool is a Windows Media Center guide management application, which apart from other things enables local and remote guide management and other funny functions (see Guide Tool).

The new guide is visually better, it includes images throughout, as well as provides new ways to navigate. Moreover, all the tuners can be combined per channel to help resolve conflicts and give you control over which tuners are used for which channels. Additionally, new APIs (Application programming interface) are available there which permits to inject logos for each channel and create utilities to edit the line-up. Further, it offers the best of all around DVR (Digital video recorder) solution available today. It is even possible to import custom data, but regrettably you can´t easily backup them. At the same time it is actually extremely stable. (See for more details Windows 7 Media Center review ).

The Windows 7 Media Center undoubtedly exceeds the Vista Media Center. Microsoft has again raised the bar and has manufactured something which moves everybody beyond, even if the competition is still exists. Nevertheless, unluckily this Center isn’t for everyone. The upfront cost with the potential maintenance expenses is the most outstanding barrier to overcome.

For all that, the extant experience with Microsoft products make us believe that prices will come down and common people will afford to have Windows 7 Media Center.  

 

Windows 7 Media Center miniguide

Windows 7 Media Center miniguide

 

References

http://www.engadget.com  (Windows 7 Media Center review )

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


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