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22 February, 2013

Caring for Good English Pronunciation

Today I had a conversation about the importance of well-pronounced English and why/if many Germans do not care about it. OK, I may only speak for my fellow IT guys, but here are some conclusions:
  • Some really don' t care.
  • Many are really busy doing business and don't have time to nurse their language skills.
  • Many just do not know better.
  • People who know better don't point the others at their mistakes, at least not often enough, since that might be seen as impolite.
  • Some false pronunciations are really common, such that people feel acknowledged when hearing and doing the same mistake over and over again.
Here is a collection of words containing the most common verbal attacks, I endured over the last 5 years. I tried to "write" down how to "speak" some of them for my German fellows. If in doubt, just click the word and listen to one of the speakers at dict.cc, or search the web.

Words of Pain
I will add more words here when my torturers start speaking again :-) and then point them to this article to help them improve their skills. In case I missed some commonly mispronounced words, just drop me a comment, thus I can add them.

Best Practice: Listen carefully, speak out loudly, repeat, repeat, repeat!

Cheers,
Uwe

14 February, 2013

I Love Free Software

I love Free Software!

There is an FSFE campaign to express your love for free software. Let me use that opportunity to tell you what software I love and use everyday.

First of all, there's a piece of software built upon GNU/Linux and Debian called Ubuntu. Ubuntu is the only operating system I have installed on my PC and I do not need anything else. No dual-booting with Windows. My old useless Windows XP edition on my second SSD had long made space for pictures and videos of my family and my little baby boy.

From my shiny Linux PC I regularly start a variety of free, open-source programs.

  • Firefox - I guess you know that one, from which I am just writing these lines. I love it and it gets better everyday.
  • Inkscape - Helps me with ANY "arrows and boxes" and (scientific) line drawing tasks, esp. for my Job. I use it instead of PowerPoint, since it is much easier to use and much more powerful. It never is in my way, and never tries to be smarter than me, which I think is critical for creativity software. At home I also use it to design greeting cards or stitching templates for my mother.
  • Gimp - A powerful image manipulation tool, that helps me retouch fotos and create art, such as the following Undying retouch, Supernova image, and fine Pixel Art:

       

    PS: Gimp 2.8 just got better with single window mode!
  • LyX/LaTeX - If you ever consider writing a scientific document (paper, thesis, etc.) use LyX! LyX uses LaTeX which can make your document look very professional and LyX frees you from all the technical details that you need consider when using plain LaTeX.
  • Vim - Is one of the most advanced text editors out there! I use it for writing sophisticated programs and websites in JavaScript, CoffeeScript, and Shellscript. Beware! Vim is not for the faint of heart. You first have to throw away your old, well-known text editing metaphors and learn the Vim way from scratch. Do so and you will love it.
  • Eclipse - This is a really big one. Even though I prefer to write code in Vim, there a some cases where a more integrated tooling can be useful. I use it mainly for writing programs for the Java VM.
  • Wine - This is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, Wine is free, open-source software that I have been using since the day I started to use Linux in 2006. On the other hand, Wine's only purpose is to run mostly, non-free Windows-based software under Unix/Linux/MacOS. I use it mainly for gaming. It helps me to run very old Windows Games, such as Fallout 1 that may not even run out of the box on Windows itself anymore. I also use it to run very recent games, such as Diablo III, or Drakensang II, or Torchlight.
I guess these are the most important free, open-source programs that I use very frequently. Here is a list of additional software that I also love and that I do not want to miss.

  • Gnome - My Desktop of choice. Yes, in GNU/Linux you are free to chose from a variety of Desktops.
  • Meld - A really nice tool to compare files.
  • Git - A modern, light weight, version control system. I also use it to backup my data to/from file shares and USB drives.
  • SumatraPDF - Very fast and lightweight PDF viewer. Much faster than the bloated Adobe Reader.
  • Mawk, Screen, and similar Core Utils - Perfect tiny tools that ease my everyday work in the office.
  • Freemind/Freeplane - Mindmapping tools that help me organize my ideas and thoughts.
  • Stellarium - Nice, ejoyable night sky and universe explorer
  • Andor's Trail - Very addicting, open-source RPG for Android
  • Battle for Wesnoth - Awesome, extensive, community-driven turn-based strategy game
If you have any questions regarding one of these open-source programs/projects and how I use them or how you can benefit from them, just drop me a note or leave a comment here in the blog.

That's it about free, open-source software that I love nearly as much as I love my wife, my little baby boy, and my cats. ;)

Best wishes,
Uwe Jugel