Learning New Languages Can Be Rewarding

If you are interested in a new culture, then learning a new language can be part and parcel of learning about that new culture.  I was quite interested in the films of Pedro Almodovar, and because of that I wanted to learn Spanish.  The films created a curiosity of the Spanish culture that I felt would be even greater fed by learning Spanish.  And I thought, since it’s so similar to English, that it would be a fun and easy way to have a new project.

The first thing I did was look into Spanish language learning software programs.  These programs are a great way to learn at home if you don’t have the luxury of going to a class somewhere.  The only downside of these programs is that you have to motivate yourself into learning.  Sometimes this can be hard – it takes quite a bit of self-discipline to learn a new language.  I often give people tips to get themselves on a schedule.  Create a calendar and make daily goals.  Then give yourself stars or stickers (hey, don’t be afraid to get creative with this one!  Revert back to childhood if you must.  Remember how exciting it was to get “gold stars” in elementary school?)

So now that you want to learn, I highly recommend doing some research into the best language learning software programs that are out there on the market.  I am a huge fan of the Rocket Languages software programs.  They are highly detailed, expansive, and the new 2017 versions have updated user interfaces and a dedicated iPhone app!  They have made tremendous improvements to their software in the last few years, keeping it very competitive to higher priced solutions such as Rosetta Stone and DuoLingo.

If you’re interested in my take on the Rocket Languages software programs then you can check out my review over on my blog called Little Language Site.  The link is: http://www.littlelanguagesite.com/rocket-spanish-review/

I pretty much go over the program, the different features, as well as the pros and cons of the program itself.  It is for more traditional learning folks – which I think is most people.  Where Rosetta Stone has a more non-traditional learning style (learning through audio only), Rocket Languages uses Audio as well as written words.  I find the more traditional style to be better for me, but it might be worth doing a trial of the different programs in order to get a feel for how you think you would do with each different style.

The best thing to do is to just give a few programs a try.  YOU have to be the one who enjoys it, not me or any other reviewer.  It’s essential that you like the outline, presentation and style of the course that you choose.

One last word – learning a new language is TOUGH.  Yes, you will really need to dedicate some serious time before you actually get anywhere.  It’s quite a journey, but there is nothing more rewarding than getting in those first few conversations with native speakers.  It’s what makes it all worth it!

Ensuring Your PC Is Protected

dv-image-12Ensuring that your PC is protected is a very important task, especially if you’re using it for a business.  There are a number of different things that can go wrong with computers, from physical malfunction and error to attacks of malware, spyware, and more.  If you take proper steps to make sure that your computer is properly protected, though, you won’t have to worry at all.

Proper Backups

Backing up your data is the first step.  Ensuring that you have backups of your data is the go-to solution when all else fails, and with computers something will eventually fail.  We highly recommend having a continuous backup at all times, and regular images.  You can use a cloud based backup solution in order to perform your continuous backups, and use local hard drives for regular images of your operating system installation.

Having both is very helpful.  If you lose a file or two you can resort to getting it back from the cloud.  But if you lose a hard drive it’s much nicer to have an image to restore from so you’re not piecing everything together.  It’s happened to me – I was glad I at least had backups of my files but it would have saved me a lot of time if I had just had an image available.

I recommend either CrashPlan or BackBlaze to protect your computer’s files automatically and provide a good off-site backup system.

Virus And Malware Protection

The next step is to ensure that your computer has good antivirus software and antimalware software running.  This is to protect you from the internet bad guys and to make sure that you don’t get a crippling virus attacking your computer.  Trust me – if you run naked through the internet you WILL catch something.

I definitely recommend Norton 360 and an additional installation of an effective anti-malware software such as Spyhunter 4 or similar.  These two in conjunction will provide protection from all sorts of bad software.  Sometimes malware gets past Norton and that’s why I recommend the additional antimalware software.  Spyhunter has had a hit to its reputation in the past but this comparison article discusses its safety.

Good Habits

The last step in ensuring that you’re protected is to develop good habits.  This starts with ensuring that your data is backed up.  That’s step one.  Additionally you may want to get into the habit of not browsing bad internet neighborhoods such as adult and gambling sites.  These are where you tend to pick up drive by downloads of malware and spyware as well as viruses.

Another great thing to do is to NOT download software from free download sites, and to not use torrent or file sharing sites.  These are risky and can pose risks for you.  If you want to do that on a personal computer that’s fine, but don’t do it on company and business computers!  There’s a higher potential for getting a bad file or virus.

Another good habit is to not eat or drink near your computer!  Yes everyone does this, but if you’re prone to spilling things then I recommend NOT doing it!  I have some friends that always spill their drinks.  You know who you are.


What if you could Literally See Wi-Fi and Cell Signals? Well, you could…

wifisignalsWhen you are looking for that cell signal, or better yet, a Wi-Fi signal, the times we live in could excuse you for imagining what it might actually look like if we were able to visually perceive available Internet access as waves make their way from the multiple hotspots surrounding you. Color blue would perhaps signal a fast but encrypted connection, green would symbolize a potentially ‘Excellent’ connection, with red symbolizing ‘Poor’, or an unsafe, open connection.

Tell this to a group of friends and they’ll think you’re high up (on something). This though, is not a concept off Harold and Kumar’s tale book. Turns out, someone has already, or rather is in the process of turning it into reality. No kidding.

As you may have imagined during ‘your moment’, that invisible world of waves and webs from satellites, routers, cell towers and other transmission medium would have, and does, look beautiful. For it is not the stuff of Matrix, or Sci-fi.

Let there be Wave Signals

This out-of-the-box (box aside?) thinking-cum-reality is courtesy of one Dutch gentleman who goes by the name Richard Vijgen, and he calls it the Architecture of Radio. Originally it was intended as an app for iOS, but Android has been included in the mix too. An interactive producer by occupation, you’ll find his stuff here.

The app employs a vast array of data sources to visualize the entire communications networks in a given location. For example, when you want to see cell signals, the app grabs tower locations within your vicinity from OpenCellID, the open collaborative map of cell towers. What about satellite signals? Word from Creative Applications says the app uses Ephemeris – a satellite location system used by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory – to calculate the location of in-orbit craft.

Coming Soon

The app is yet to be released although a video demo is out to offer a sneak peek into how it works. To dumb it down for us, Vijgen says it’s not a ‘full measurement of the entire radio spectrum’ per se, but rather a theoretical simulation drawn from radiation models that the app calculates depending on the distance between the transmitter and where you’re at.

This is truly the frontier of human thought. It serves as a thought-provoking reminder that the systems this world relies on are just around us. It’s just that you can’t touch, feel or see them.

How to Safely Move Your Desktop Computer

movingadesktoppcSo you’re headed to a gaming party at your buddy’s house, and you really want to bring your powerful desktop computer with you. Sure, you could bring the laptop— but it just doesn’t pack the same punch; and you want to seriously pound the competition. The question becomes, how do you transport your highly expensive, magnificent machine from your gaming den at home to your buddy’s house? Here are some dos and don’ts to help you get that beauty safely there and back again.

Don’t Take Chances

You should back up your data before you go. Just in case the worst happens, and your machine ends up in splinters, or gets banged up so badly that your hard drive is scrambled. Make a backup copy of your hard drive and put it in a fireproof box under your bed. Now, if anything happens, you can still get your stuff back.

Do It Yourself

If your friend volunteers to pick up your machine on his way from work and bring it to the party for you, don’t let him do it, even if it would save you time. If you’re moving to a new home, be it in on another street or another city, don’t let the movers handle your machine. Always do the packing and transporting of the machine yourself. That way, if something happens, you’ll have only yourself to blame, and you’ll know that you took the best possible care of your prized possession.

Don’t Forget to Disconnect

It’s no use trying to move the machine with everything still hooked up to it. You need to do this right, and that means doing it from the ground up. Unhook the peripherals first, including speakers, headphones, mouse, keyboard, webcam, and other items. If you are moving and you want to take extra care with the items, find the original packaging for your mouse and keyboard if you still have it. If not, mimic the way that the manufacturer delivered them to you in the first place. Foam padding, layers of cardboard, and bubble wrap are all good ways to protect your peripherals.

Do Take Extra Care with the Monitor

Got a gorgeous high-definition monitor that you love? Protect that baby with your life. Slide it into its original box or into some other large, thick cardboard box, and pad it with towels or bubble wrap. Tape up the box and lay it flat in the trunk of your car, or wedge it between the back seat and the front seats where it cannot move around or bang back and forth.

Don’t Overestimate Your Desktop’s Durability

Your desktop computer case is a little more durable, but you should still take plenty of precautions. Box it up with padding for a move across the city or to another city. For a short trip to a friend’s house, wrap it in a blanket and put a plastic bag around it in case you encounter a surprise rain shower. Place it in a snug spot in your car and make sure it does not have room to shift too much and bang into other objects. Now that you have everything securely packed, all you need to do is drive safely, set up quickly, and pwn those other gamers!