Tag Archives: Learn

Week 10: Adobe Lightroom

I finally purchased Adobe Lightroom so I can start editing my way through the absurd amount of photos I have from the past year and a half. I’ve used Photoshop before, back in the days of CS2, and have played around with a few other free photo-editing softwares, but never found any that I was crazy about. One of my friends who does a considerable amount of studio photography, swears by Lightroom. After playing around with the software on her computer for a bit, I decided that it was worth the investment.

Now, I just need to learn how to unlock its full potential.


Week 9: Medical Emergencies

Week 9 was much busier than anticipated, and I left town for the weekend for a friends’ going away festivities, so I fell behind. Have to play catch up now. For this week I wanted to learn about the common warning signs for medical emergencies (stroke, heart attack, alcohol poisoning, etc.) and the appropriate responses one can take other than calling 911 (which should always be done first in any real medical emergency).

Since I am so behind this week (and I am not a medical professional with valid opinions or advice to give), I will primarily be posting the collection of resources that I use to learn more about these emergencies.

Let’s begin with something basic, and on the response side of medical emergencies that everyone should know: the recovery position.

The recovery position.

The recovery position.

The recovery position should follow the six following guidelines (as outlined by the International Liaison Committee of Resuscitation):

  1. The victim should be in as near a true lateral position as possible with the head dependent to allow free drainage of fluid
  2. The position should be stable
  3. Any pressure of the chest that impairs breathing should be avoided
  4. It should be possible to turn the victim onto the side and return to the back easily and safely, having particular regard to the possibility of cervical spine injury
  5. Good observation of and access to the airway should be possible
  6. The position itself should not give rise to any injury to the victim (List and image from Wikipedia: Recovery Position)

How I Learned To Speed Read In A Week

7 days and 8.5 books later, I think I’ve got the hang of speed reading. I’m no Roosevelt (yet), and I still have plenty of room for improvement, but using a flash-based program I can comfortably read at a rate of 1000wpm, as I push it up to 1100wpm I start falling behind and losing track. I am able to understand the general idea of what I am reading but after a few minutes I get frustrated. I’ve also found four words per cluster to be my ideal setting. I found it was easier to read with word clusters of three-four words per screen instead of two. My speed still decreases when reading from a passage or an actual book, it’s a lot easier when the words are already clustered together without me having to think about it. I started using an index card to cover what I have already read and it has eliminated the temptation to skip back to previous text.

The iPhone app, Accelereader, was one of the most useful tools for practicing. Whenever I was on the bus or train I would practice reading. The app also has a bunch of ebooks available to read. I read “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes“, “Through The Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There“, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” and “The Time Machine” while going through the app’s different exercises.

In addition to those books, I read “Cat’s Cradle“, “A Game Of Thrones“, “Wicked: The Life And Times Of The Wicked Witch Of The West“, “A Walk In The Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail“‘, and finished “Guns, Germs and Steel“. With that I was able to put a little dent in my stack of books to read, and the rest of the stack no longer seems so intimidating.

So, here’s my advice:

Practice; read, read, read.

Commit at least an hour to speed reading every day. The first two days I had to make a conscious effort to speed read, but as the week went on, I was naturally applying speed reading techniques to all of my reading. I still made sure to spend at least an hour (usually in 20-30 min segments), doing speed reading exercises to increase my speed.

Use online free resources, there are tons of them! I really liked Read Speeder which I posted about before. It was nice being able to see how much I improved each day, and over the course of the week.

Use your finger or a pen to guide your eye and set the pace for your reading when working with hard copies. There’s no need to feel self-conscious about it. People will be too focused on the speed that you are moving through the text at, to think that it’s childish to use your finger when  reading. It’s not childish, it’s smart, and there’s a reason most students are taught that technique in grade school.

Learning Notes: Speed Reading

I have noticed that my WPM scores are better with the single word flashing and word chunking exercises, than they are when reading from an actual book or entire passages with a scrolling highlighter. I think this is attributed to two things, the first two exercises provide no way to skip back and re-read text previous text (I’m just realizing how excessively I do this), and since the words flash across the screen so fast there is no time to subvocalize them. I think with practice my scores will even out, but for now I need to focus on not skipping back, or reading out loud to myself.

I also went out and bought a pair of ear plugs, a recommendation in the ‘Teach Yourself’ book. I have noticed that they improve my concentration a bit by tuning out the rest of the world. In college I always did my reading with music on to tune everything else out, but now that I am picking up the pace with my reading, I have come to appreciate silence. I tried speed reading with music, and then without and there was almost a 100WPM difference in my scores. That was all it took for me to go out and buy the ear plugs.

I have also realized that I need to get the prescription updated in my reading glasses. After about 20 minutes of speed reading the edges of the letters start to get blurry, and after I stop reading it takes a while for my eyes to readjust. It’s probably about time I have my eyes checked anyway, it’s been about 5 years since I got these reading glasses.

Pleasantly Poached Eggs

While waiting for the coddled eggs to finish in the oven, I decided to give poaching eggs another try. Thankfully, today’s came out looking much nicer. Perhaps I just needed to sleep on it, and try again with a little experience under my belt.

This is what worked for me:
Bring 4-6 cm. of water to a low simmer with bubbles fixed to the bottom, but not rising to the surface, then add a few splashes of vinegar (I used rice wine vinegar). Crack the egg into a small dish that it will be easy to slide the egg out of. Use a whisk to create a whirlpool in the saucepan, and gently drop the egg into the center of it. Let the warm water do the work of spinning the egg together. Once the water has stilled, turn down the heat and let the egg rest for a few minutes (3-5 min depending on the size of the egg, and the water’s initial temperature). If you are not sure if the egg is ready, then slide the slotted spoon under the egg and give it a little jiggle, if you notice some areas of the egg are still opaque, then let the egg slide off the spoon and continue cooking, but if it all looks white it is probably ready. Remove the egg with a slotted spoon, serve, and enjoy the satisfaction of breaking open that glorious yolk.

I was able to get a decent looking egg without stirring the water first, but the egg often settled to the bottom and had the imprint of bubbles on it. I couldn’t get the timing right for when to lift the egg from the bottom – too soon and the whites all fall away from the yolk as they are cooking. Too late and the bubbles set into the surface of the egg whites. But once I got the hang of the ‘whirlpool’ mentioned in my previous post, the eggs came out more predictably and smooth.

A pleasantly poached egg.

A pleasantly poached egg.

Poached egg with shakshouka on the side.

Poached egg with shakshuka on the side.

22wpm to 56wpm: How I learned to type properly in one week.

Now, for a bit of reflection. I’m happy that I went with Typing Web as my primary source of learning, they definitely have the simplest and most comprehensive set of typing lessons that I looked at. For the wpm testing, I decided to include my scores from 10 Fast Fingers and Typing Web because the typing test at each site is quite different. 10 Fast Fingers uses a series of common words that are jumbled up, with occasional proper nouns, and no punctuation marks. Whereas, Typing Web uses phrases and sentences, with capital letters, and common punctuation marks. So, Typing Web tended to be more challenging, but the scores remained surprisingly close.

Each day I logged 20-30min of intentional typing practice. The days that I logged more or less, were noticeable in my scores. I’m glad that on day 3, I committed to typing properly full-time. It was hard for the first day, but became progressively easier, and I think it really helped in reaching my goal of 55wpm. It’s cliche, but practice really was key in re-learning to type properly. I’m still tempted to look at the keyboard frequently, so I’m not done practicing, but I’m satisfied with the improvements I have made in a week.

While discussing this week’s learning adventure with a friend, she introduced me to Type Racer (http://play.typeracer.com/). Type Racer allows one to practice typing alone, to challenge a friend to a race, or to play against other users who are online. Each round uses a passage from a book, movie or song for the content of the typing test. Upon completion of a round, the source of the passage is revealed. Many of the passages are from pop-culture, so I’ve been able to recognize a few while typing (which just makes it more fun). Another site with the same premise that I came across is typrX (http://app.typrx.com/#HomePlace:). I found typrX’s passages to be a bit longer and sometimes from lesser known sources, which adds another element of fun (and difficulty when you come get a passage about code).

My advice to learning proper typing technique: pick a website and work your way through their lessons (in order – there’s a logic behind the order they present them in). Practice, practice, practice! And, finally, have some fun with it and challenge your friends or compete against strangers if you’re nervous. If you can’t easily monitor and see your improvement you’re less likely to enjoy practicing, and will be more likely to quit. So, if you can, sign up for an account on whatever site you use most for practicing typing. That way the site will automatically track your scores, and you don’t have to. Master typists have logged speeds around 170wpm at competitions in recent years, so get typing!

To end this week first week of learning, I will call on ‘Oh, The Places You’ll Go’, by Dr. Seuss (with one minor adjustment, of course):

“Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right [hand] with your left.”

Typing: Daily Progress

Day 2:
Completed the first half of lessons of the beginner course on Typing Web. The hardest thing is remembering to use my pinkie fingers. I have a tendency to just use my ring finger instead on those keys. Also, correctly aligning my fingers on the keys when using lateral movement has proven to be difficult. I’ve been practicing this movement with Peter’s Online Typing’s the “Finger Upper-Downer” exercises.

Typing Web: 27wpm; 98% accuracy

10 Fast Fingers:
Without box, incorrect typing method: 63wpm
With box, incorrect typing method: 45wpm
Without box, focusing on correct finger placement: 33wpm
With box, focusing on correct finger placement: 26wpm

Day 3:
Begin with the “Finger Upper-Downer” exercises (typinglessons.org). Finish the beginner course on Typing Web. The up-down shifts on the keyboard are becoming more familiar, still having trouble remembering to use my pinkies, especially on the lower row of keys. No more incorrect typing! From this point on all e-mails, posts, etc will be done using correct typing technique (even if it is still a little slower).

Typing Web: 34wpm; 98% accuracy

10 Fast Fingers:
Without box: 38wpm
With box: 32wpm

Day 4:
Begin with Complete the first half of the intermediate course on Typing Web. Review ‘problem keys’ provided by Typing Web. Practiced typing for approximately 45 min in total, on top of daily e-mails, etc. The time really paid off!

Typing Web: 45wpm; 99% accuracy

10 Fast Fingers:
Without box: 48wpm
With box: 40wpm

Day 5:
Begin with “The Big Zig” exercise (typinglessons.org). Complete two lessons of the intermediate course on Typing Web. The finger placements are feeling natural at last! Did not practice as much this day, and it shows in the results.

Typing Web: 46wpm; 98% accuracy

10 Fast Fingers:
Without box: 47wpm
With box: 40wpm

Day 6:
Finish the intermediate course, and review problem keys provided by Typing Web. (Oops, forgot to log back in to store my score this day, so it is missing from the picture below.) A friend introduced my to Type Racer; it’s a fun way to practice typing prompts. My fingers are pounding keys before I even have time to second guess if that was the right key, but 98% of the time it is!

Typing Web: N/A

10 Fast Fingers:
Without box: 51wpm
With box: 47wpm

Day 7:
Complete the first lesson of the advanced course. Repeat exercises from the beginner course to check improvement, and to review typing random letters instead of words. My speed decreases when typing random letters (as opposed to words), but I think that’s to be expected, and my accuracy is still near perfect, so I think it’s alright. Came across typrX while searching for the ‘world’s fastest English qwerty typist’, it’s another fun site to practice and compete while typing out passages.

Typing Web: 52wpm; 98% accuracy

10 Fast Fingers:
Without box: 55wpm
With box: 49wpm

And a final day after the weekend:
Complete “Accuracy Drills” on Typing Web. At this point, I have been typing using strictly proper technique for one week. And have been playing lots of rounds on Type Racer and typrX during breaks.

Typing Web: 56wpm; 99% accuracy

10 Fast Fingers:
Without box: 58wpm
With box: 50wpm

Goal accomplished!

Final typing test results.

Final typing test results.