The Sociable’s Tim Hinchliffe In An Exclusive Interview With Typesy Team





Tim Hinchliffe


Have you ever dreamed of traveling the world as a freelance writer? Top-notch typing and vocabulary skills will help you achieve your dream, as well as an interest in your chosen topic. Journalist and freelancer Tim Hinchliffe knows how skill, interest, and luck can all play a part in any media specialist’s career.

You’ve traveled to several countries in pursuit of interviews and article material. How did you do those interviews? Were you recording the session on audio or video, or were you typing notes on your computer during the interview?

The interviews are quite varied in approach. In Ghana, I was fortunate enough to have lunch with former President John Kufuor at his home in Accra, and we talked a little about tribal land rights (photo attached). I was an intern at the time, working for free, and I was in for a big surprise when I arrived at the office that morning and was told to go see the former president. I have to admit I was somewhat star-struck and didn’t take any notes as it was a little distracting with 20 Zongo chiefs dressed in tribal garb with golden staffs all gathered around, but I remembered everything and later wrote it all down as soon as I got back to the office and wrote the article.

Usually, though, I bring along my digital tape recorder, especially in Latin America. Although I’m quite fluent in Spanish, I still have difficulties with some dialects.

How much of your time do you spend at the computer keyboard these days?

It’s embarrassing to admit that I’m in front of the computer probably about 8 hours a day. On weekends I like to completely unplug when I can, and I love hiking in the Colombian Andes while hunting for wild mushrooms.

You’re currently based in Colombia, and you write in both Spanish and English. Do you use a standard QWERTY keyboard for both languages?

I use a standard QWERTY on my little notebook-tablet hybrid. When I have to use Spanish accent marks and tildes, I either copy/paste or use quick keys. I just can’t get into the flow of writing with a Latin keyboard; the backspace key has seen a lot of horrors and abuse.

Back in the days of print-only media, there was a fairly clear line between “news” publications and “social or entertainment” publications. With everything being posted on line these days and shared on social media sites like Facebook, do you think that journalists need to try to make news articles more “like”-able?

If journalists want to get both paid and have a far-reaching audience, then making news articles more “like”-able is essential. If you’re writing just a personal blog for things that interest you and maybe a handful of other people in the world, then owning that small niche can be advantageous as well – people will look to you as an expert or thought leader.

The thing about sharing on social media, and SEO in general, is you have to play by “their” rules. Knowing what keywords Facebook algorithms will pick up or catering to what is trending can drive a lot more traffic to your page. The downside is that you have to gather quite the following before you are popular enough to start breaking some of these rules to produce truly original content.

Being “like”-able sometimes means compromise and catering to what is more popular and not necessarily what is more important. When I wrote for the online news site Colombia Reports, my articles on FARC guerrilla activities would get some traction, but if I wrote a quick article about Shakira or Sofia Vergara, it would immediately spread like a virus while bringing more readers to the site. Hopefully they read about the Peace Process as well, but who knows?

If you could interview three people, who would they be? (You can pick one person who’s not alive today.

I would love to interview mycologist Paul Stamets, his work on using fungi to cure cancer, clean-up toxic waste, and save the bees is something that I truly admire with the utmost respect.

Another one would be Henry Kissinger. There are few people in this world with as much influence or a more clear personification of pure malice and evil, without empathy or regards to human dignity, save perhaps one of the Rothschilds. I probably wouldn’t live to tell about afterwards, though.

As a younger, less-sober man, I would have killed for an interview with Hunter S. Thompson, but as I get older I’m finding that indigenous spiritual leaders and shamans have a wealth of knowledge to offer, so for the dearly departed, I would like to pick Abd’el Hakim Awyan’s brain for his astonishing insights towards the understanding ancient Khemitian (Egyptian) wisdom and cosmology.


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Ergonomic Keyboard Types Every Keyboarding School Should Know About





Ergonomic keyboards are a must for students and professionals, or anyone who spends a lot of hours touch typing.

An ergonomically designed keyboard takes into account natural hand and finger position to optimize comfort and reduce health issues related to repetitive keyboarding to a minimum. That’s why every keyboarding school or class should offer ergonomic keyboards: so that students can improve their touch typing skills without putting their wrists and fingers at risk.

Split Keyboards

Split keyboards and the more recent adjustable split keyboards can be split apart in the middle so that each hand rests more naturally on its natural curves.

The split keyboard lets you do two things. First, you can adjust the distance between the two halved keyboards and adjust the key angle from flat to up to 30 degrees. This position is far more comfortable for your wrists which are naturally facing each other.

This 15 to 30 degree “tent” your split keyboard assumes means your wrists and arms can be in a natural line, minimizing the uncomfortable experience associated with most flat and integrated keyboards in laptops.

This is what’s called keyboard tenting and it’s about finding the sweet spot for your wrists. As a result, your touch typing will be faster and with less typos and your wrists will be at maximum comfort. For many people split keyboards also translate into many hours of pain-free touch typing. Some split keyboards with adjustable design allow anywhere from 9 to 20 inches distance between the two halves, too.

While there are several fixed split keyboards, we recommend adjustable ones with independent pieces since these allow you to get used to the new hand position incrementally.

Contoured Keyboards

contoured

Kinesis Advantage Keyboard

The science behind this type of ergonomic keyboard is that their design is based on the body’s anatomy. They aim to make touch typing as comfortable as possible by offering a layout that feels more natural to your arms and wrists as possible.

They’re called “contoured” because they’re take up the shape delineated by the anatomy of your fingers and wrists.

How to spot a good ergonomic keyboard

There are several features that will help you decide if a keyboard is ergonomic, and more importantly if it’s suitable for your needs.

1) Well-designed wrist pad with sturdy yet soft support for your palms that can be adjusted further for optimum comfort.

2) Tactile and silent keys are another feature. These keyboards require very little keystroke power alleviating most of the stress associated with touch typing on cumbersome previous-generation keyboards.

3) Price matters. Ergonomic keyboards, especially state-of-the-art ones that look like they’ve jumped out of a sci-fi movie, tend to be on the pricey side. However, keep in mind they contribute to your personal comfort and health.

With every ergonomic keyboard there’s usually a learning curve to go through, so keep this in mind when introducing a new ergonomic keyboard to your class or school. It will take some time before students feel comfortable with the new layout. With consistent practice, students will be able to resume their touch typing efficiency in a matter of days.

Which Is The Strongest: App or Web Tools?





When you’re using technology for work, pleasure, and communication, do you prefer using apps or web tools? A new infographic by Edudemic shows that apps win by a wide margin for many people. Let’s have a look at the numbers.

If you combine the apps on the Google Store and Apple store then you get over 2 million apps. This is a mind-blowingly gigantic number, especially considering how recent a phenomenon mobile apps truly are.

More than 50 million apps have been downloaded through the Apple store. Google’s apps come second with about 48 million apps being downloaded so far. It is also estimated that out of all these app downloads only 75% of them are actually used. Some are not used even once after they’re downloaded.

Estimates suggest that by the year 2017 there will be more than 4.4 billion users of mobile applications. So where does that leave web tools usage?

When it comes to Ed tech, students and their educators seem to opt for a combination of the two. Web tools offer more feature-rich content, enhanced capabilities, and the advantage of being more reliable. On the other hand, mobile apps provide variety and easy access, and they tend to be, well, mobile.

As many major web tools, platforms, services, and communication tools already have corresponding mobile apps, it is becoming evident that the future belongs to the app world. Apps are irresistible, handy, powerful tools. By contrast, people often find that web tools are more burdensome and inflexible.

Given that popular services like Google Maps, Pandora, YouTube, and a wide range of games dominate both the Apple and Google stores’ top downloads, it comes as no surprise that web tools will slowly morph into apps and our access to Internet tools and resources will eventually be primarily app-based.

Care to weigh in? Tell us which you prefer – web tools or apps?

Fitness 101: 8 Tricks To Up Your Running Game




Typing Software: Enough To Teach Kids Keyboarding Skills?





Typing software and apps are super smart these days – and super fun. For example, who wouldn’t like to learn how to touch type while having fun playing a game with friends? I know I would!

Typing software teaches you how to touch type correctly so that you can gradually improve your typing speed. Before you know it, you can touch type without looking constantly at your keyboard, and without wasting so much time fixing typos.

So much is done on line these days, starting in grade school, that children need this skill even earlier in life than ever. Today’s schools now put the emphasis on teaching children how to touch type with the correct technique and appropriate speed.

As more and more people take on careers and jobs that include touch typing in one form or the other, it is more urgent than ever that students learn from the best, and today’s software and apps are very good. But are they good enough?

The Role of Technology

At first, it was thought that touch typing software would soon replace teachers, or that students would learn on their own how to touch type. But typing software and apps were never meant to replace teachers. Instead, the best of them are designed to make a teacher’s life easier and a student’s learning more efficient.

It turns out that the best teaching method is a combination of human instruction and intelligent technology. Combining the two gives children everything they need: the necessary encouragement and overseeing of a human being and the efficiency and structure of a touch typing program or cloud app.

Touch typing is 99.9% technique and 0.01% speed training. If you get the principles of touch typing right, speed will come naturally the more you practice.

When should children start learning keyboarding?

Millennials learned how to touch type in their high school computer science classes, or sometimes in a business-related class after they graduate, or perhaps at college later.

Today, with computers and other technologies introduced in the classroom in the first and second grade, it’s no surprise that students need to learn early on how to use these technologies. What we need to do is make sure we help them implement the right keyboarding techniques.

Getting children to improve their cognitive automaticity means that handwriting is no longer an impediment to how fast they can think. The faster children type the more they can think, in a sense. But that’s not all. Getting children to improve their motor skills early on is no longer an extra, optional skill for students. It’s a precondition for creating tomorrow’s efficient, talented workforce.

The moment students no longer have to think where each finger goes or which key is reserved for which hand, their intellect is freed from this cognitive burden. Their brains are able to think, experiment and learn ever more quickly.

Bringing teachers and technology together

Good typing programs are intuitive and user-friendly. They’re also equipped with essential features that make student monitoring and progress optimization easier than ever. The teacher can save the time they used to spend creating typing exercises, and instead focus on helping students to learn at their own pace, while the typing software automatically reports on every student’s progress, and provides challenges and opportunities for learning further.

Something that would take a lot of resources, money, time and effort before – teaching kids keyboarding skills – can now be done efficiently with a bit of help from touch typing programs.

Marianne Vanderkolk of Design Your Homeschool Talks About Technology and Homeschooling In This Exclusive Interview





Marianne Vanderkolk


The decision about whether to homeschool can be a difficult one for many parents, as Marianne Vanderkolk knows. At her website www.design-your-homeschool.com, she shares her experience and her knowledge, and has created a resource for current and future homeschooling parents.

As a homeschooling parent, you had to invest in educational tools yourself, from simple things like pencils and paper to larger items such as computers and printers. How did you fit this into the family budget?

We were aware, as all parents are, that educating our children will cost money. However, since we were not paying for school fees, we were able to channel those funds directly into learning resources in our home. We always set aside money for those expenses and the beauty of homeschooling was that whatever books or materials including programs, computers and printers – they would be beneficial to our whole family.

Is it important to keep up with changes in educational technology if you’re following a homeschool curriculum?

I am sure that children can be educated easily with excellent books, pen and paper. However, I love the opportunity that technology has opened for our children. There are so many wonderful online programs, courses, webinars, podcasts and instructional materials out there. In fact, it becomes a challenge to work out what you might choose as the options are amazing for online learning and more wonderful tools are being developed all the time!

In public schools, many students are required to use computers in the classroom by the time they’re 12 years old, and many schools are adding keyboarding classes to their requirements. How did you teach your children to type?

I think touch typing is an important skill for children to learn and we used typing courses which were interactive and fun to do as they taught skills in accuracy, speed and correct placement. I believe Typsey is a wonderful tool that many homeschooling families would love to use.  Each child can work through the courses, video lessons to become excellent typists and increase their own skill level on the computer. Personally what I think is amazing that you can import documents or use webpages as materials to build your own typing skills. Homeschooling families recognize the benefits of dictation and modeling great literature, so this is an excellent way to combine literature with improving touch typing skills. It is a fantastic  individualized program for the whole family!

Every family is different, and therefore so is every course of study. One great resource of your site is a set of tools that help parents design the curriculum that works for their children. Can you talk more about how this works?

My site has been developed as a guide for families to use. Since each family is unique, my aim is to help families work out their own goals in home educating their children, view their children as individuals with different talents and gifts and then work out materials that may suit them and their own particular home environment.  My hope is that my site will give families the courage to create their own style and enjoy the flexibility and freedom that homeschooling gives.  It takes courage to step out and be different and parents also need to be reminded of what John Holt says, “children learn from anything and everything they see.”  

I hope parents are encouraged to share the wonderful journey of home education, teaching, walking beside, cheerleading and enabling their children to become self-directed learners.

You live in Australia, which may have different regulations about education that homeschooling parents have to follow. What is your advice for parents who need to find out what rules apply where they live?

As each state varies in requirements, it is important that those who are looking to register their child for home education should contact the correct body in their own state.


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21st-Century Self-Improvement Tips – From An 18th-Century Genius




Ben Franklin Circles from Coulee Creative on Vimeo.

Everything You Need To Know About April is Here





April is one of the most beloved months of the year. The weather is irresistibly pleasant, flowers are in full bloom, the sun is pleasantly warm. Hearts are filled with excitement and anticipation for the summer and we cannot but rejoice in the wonderful weather and all the opportunities it presents us with from mini excursions to picnics and trips to nearby sights and cities.

But beside being a promising month for a fresh beginning full of joy and potential, there is so much more to April that meets the eye. So let’s dig in to discover some fun facts about April!

– The oh-so-shining diamond is the birthstone for April. Perhaps the most famous birthstone poem is that by Tiffany & Co:

                        “She who from April dates her years, Diamonds shall wear, lest bitter tears. For vain repentance flow; this stone, emblem of innocence, is known.”

– If you were born in April you’re either an Aries or a Taurus.

– With flowers in full swing, it’s no surprise that the birth flowers of April are the daisy and the sweet pea!

– Apart from warm weather, April is full notable for pranks, as April 1 is April Fool’s Day. But there’s more: the whole month is Humor Month, testament to just how fun April would be if it were a person. Who wouldn’t want to hang out with April? I know I would.

– April 22 is the International Earth Day, a day full of celebrations and initiatives that focus on raising awareness on environmental issues.

– April’s name is the most appropriate one. April more likely derives from the Latin verb ‘aperire’ which mean ‘to open’, a clear reference to the act of blossoming that takes place throughout nature.

– Famous poets and artists were born in April, including English poet William Wadsworth on April 7, Leonardo da Vinci on April 15, and English literary giant, William Shakespeare, who was born on April 23 in 1564.

– Several month-long observances take place in April, including Autism Awareness Month, Rape Awareness Month, National Poetry Month, and Parkinson’s’ Disease Awareness month, observed in the US and internationally.

– April is Jazz Appreciation Month

– In the US, April is National Child Abuse Prevention month and the month for Sexual Assault Awareness.

– One of the most well-known songs about April is ‘April in Paris’ sung by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. Other great songs about April are “April Showers” by Sugarland and “Sometimes it Snows in April” by Prince.

– April and July begin on the same day of the week every year.

– The famous Titanic sunk on April 15, 1912.

– The New Year in Thailand, Laos, Burma, and Cambodia is celebrated on April 13.

– Another nerdy fact about April is that the latter begins on the same day of the week as January did in the previous year. During a leap year and the year after a leap year, April’s last day is on the same day of the week as January of the previous year.

 

Is there a special occasion or event celebrated in April in your country? Share it with us!

Connecting Culture: This Mobile Museum Lets Students Travel The World




Mobile Museum: A Great Way to Bring Students Around the World in a Safe Way

Wikipedia: Reliable Or Not?




Elizabeth Farquhar



Just as not everything you pick up off the shelf at a bookstore or library is guaranteed to be 100% accurate, the material being published on line every day isn’t always true. Sometimes that’s because the information is out of date. Even though millions of people around the world are constantly adding and updating websites, the pace of scientific advancement and the new research being done in fields from astronomy to zoology has created an avalanche of data that even high-speed internet connections can’t always handle. However, one of the big differences between print and online resources is that updates can be done quickly and easily on the internet. Printed books and journals take time to produce and distribute. In the virtual world, correcting and republishing an encyclopedia entry is often a matter of minutes. In the real world of paper-based publications, it’s impossible to reprint hundreds of thousands of copies of an entire multi-volume set of encyclopedias every time a new piece of information about the surface of Pluto needs to be added to Volume 18 (Plants to Raymund of Tripoli). Some printed reference works haven’t even gotten around to changing their text to show Pluto’s new designation as a “minor planet” – and that decision was made by the International Astronomical Union in 2006.

Online encyclopedias like Wikipedia are frequently more accurate than printed publications, simply because of this faster updating speed. But there’s another big difference between a book in print and a book online that makes some people question Wikipedia’s accuracy and reliability. Think about this for a minute: if you’re looking at a page in a printed book, it’s obvious when someone else has changed the text. You’ll see words crossed out, notes penciled into the margins, even entire pages missing. When someone changes information in Wikipedia, those changes aren’t always obvious. Worse, since almost anyone can change almost any information, there is no guarantee that whoever made the change knows more about the topic than the original author. On the other hand, many Wikipedia entries are created and maintained by people who know a lot about the topic. For example, you’ll find updated links to eReflect’s product pages on the official eReflect Wikipedia page, as well as links to the most recent reviews and other articles that help you find out more about eReflect’s educational software.

So of the almost 5,000,000 entries (counting only the ones in English) that have been added to Wikipedia since it started in 2001, which are reliable? Most of them, say experts. The argument about Wikipedia’s reliability started not long after the website went on line, and it’s still going on today. In 1995 a study published by the journal Nature noted that Wikipedia entries were about as accurate as the entries on the same topics in the online version of one of the best-known print encyclopedias. A study in 2014 published by the online journal PLOS ONE compared Wikipedia entries on 100 common drugs with information found in a current pharmacology textbook and concluded that the Wikipedia material was almost 100% accurate.

In addition, more than 75,000 people worldwide act as knowledge editors, helping to ensure that when information is added, it’s as accurate as possible. The editors also flag information that isn’t backed up by other sources, so it’s easy to see where any gaps or inaccuracies are in the online article. In fact, when Wikipedia entries are criticized, it’s almost always due to “errors of omission” – something is missing, rather than something is wrong. The editors at Wikipedia have said from the beginning that their goal was never to be the source for all information on every topic. Instead, they want people to treat the online reference as a good starting point for more detailed research, using the many links provided by knowledgeable contributors.

The number of users making a positive contribution to the Wikipedia database is much higher than the number of people who accidentally or deliberately add incorrect material. With the editors’ help, the millions of people who keep the world’s knowledge in the global reference files maintained by Wikipedia have produced a useful, reliable, and up-to-date resource that researchers can use with confidence.

About the Author: Elizabeth Farquhar is the Content Expert for eReflect – creator of 7 Speed Reading which is currently being used by tens of thousands of happy customers in over 110 countries.


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