General Education

Is it a crime to learn a foreign language?

These days, learning a foreign language is considered a useful thing. The advantages are many: from travelling to foreign countries to getting a preferential treatment in the ethnic restaurants of your own to keeping the dementia away. This was not always a case though, at least for China. Until 1844, it was illegal for a foreigner to learn Chinese. That changed for America, when Caleb Cushing had negotiated the Treaty of Wanghia, which made it possible for Americans - and Americans only - to learn Chenese.

The podcasts I listen to and how BusinessWeek got it wrong

Is Podcasting revolution over before it began? BusinessWeek seems to think so and quotes Pew Internet & American Life Project’s statistics. The topic is also generating some buzz in the blogosphere, with BusinessWeek’s interpretation being gleefully accepted by some and thoughtfully rejected by others. I believe into podcasting’s future because it is here already for me. I have a 40 minute walk to work each day, so I have over six hours of content a week I can consume.

The next computer in my household will not run Windows

Wendy Seltzer’s plain-english explanation of the Microsoft Windows Vista’s EULA was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. There will be no Windows Vista on my next computer. I am sick and tired of worrying about computer viruses and misbehaving software; having the operating system that decides to remove functionalities or sabotage my work otherwise, is just beyond bearable. It barely matters what Operating System I run anyway. My primary applications are Firefox, Open Office, Gmail, WordPress and various Java applications.

Good overview of e-books – especially for distance education

David Rothman of the TeleRead fame has written a good background article on the e-books for the Innovate - journal of online education (free registration required). While David’s articles at his blog are frequent and in-depth, any one of them is too tactical for a good overview. The article at the Innovate is a good summary and is rather more strategic. It also utilises the online nature of the journal to provide a comprehensive set of relevant hyperlinks.