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Thursday, November 20, 2008

This and that all over the place

As usual, this post will probably be all over the place. There's so many things I've wanted to write about, each wanting it's own mumble, but I can't see that happening for a while. Here's what's on my mind tonight in any case.


My learning is taking off all over again with Anki - an amazingly simple yet effective program that uses spaced repetition to help you remember stuff, whether it be a language, people's names, or a cake recipe.

It's like having a pack of digital flashcards, with you choosing what goes on either side. You can access them on your computer, on any other computer with an Internet connection, and on any Internet-enabled mobile device (such as a bog standard moderm mobile phone). They all sync, so any changes made through one interface will be recognised in others.

I'm using Anki on my Mac to input new words, phrases and people's names, and then reviewing them on my iPhone on the trains. Incidentally, an update for iAnki (the mobile version) was released today.

Anki is FREE, but I would encourage anyone who ends up using it to make a donation to support the developer, Damien.

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: The New Psycho-Cybernetics (Unabridged)

by Maxwell Maltz, edited by Dan S. Kennedy, available from or Amazon (etc)

Ok, so this isn't a proper review, as this is the Daily Mumble. It's just my thoughts on what I've heard so far of this 11-hour audio book.

First off, this classic from the 1960s reminds me of many other books that focus upon the power within us to shape our lives and reach any heights we might care to aim for. Anyone familiar with Anthony Robbins will recognise a lot of what Maltz talks about. Likewise, if you bought the video / audio / book of The Secret, you'll be 'know' this stuff, albeit with a lot more bells and whistles ...and over-acting, and elephants in people's houses.

Despite being familiar with much of what is talked about in the book, I'm finding myself absolutely engrossed. It's very refreshing to look at this stuff from a clinical point of view. It 'makes sense'. I spent three hours listening to the first few chapters whilst making chocolate cake and curry last night, and over the course of the evening felt a physical change come over me as I started to let go of some pretty ridiculous beliefs.

I feel I've gone backwards in the past few months when it comes to letting go of what's not important. My control tendencies have reared their ugly head as I battle to find some firm ground in this new life. With these tendencies has come stress, which serves absolutely no useful purpose other then decreasing my effectiveness in all sorts of ways.

I especially like this new version as it contains a lot of references to modern-day events, thus making it feel relevant.

I'll be listening to this book a lot over the next month, and putting what I learn into practice.

If you're interested in this book I'd suggest reading some 'proper' reviews rather than buy it on the strength of my recommendation.

Incidentally, I was very happy today to see that my manager has bought a set of Lock and Lock Tuppa based on my recommendation. Yay, changing lives!

Work is getting pretty busy now. Much of today was spent designing a poster for an upcoming teaching EXPO - I was chosen for the job as it was apparent that I 'like computers'. The resulting poster (based on an Apple iWork Pages template) went down a treat, and is also going to be used internally as an example of 'what is possible'. One step closer towards persuading the company to ditch their PCs in favour of Macs. :-)

I'm enjoying building relationships with my colleagues. I took another chocolate cake into work today - I needed to trial a new recipe in the saucepan-baked cake series, and thought it a good opportunity to encourage friendship-growth. It turned out really well, oh, and also gave me the opportunity to apologise properly to someone whom I could have offended pretty badly yesterday. The team were trying to come up with a nickname for me, and started throwing the name 'Joe'+ending around. The Japanese girl next to me, who also happens to be called Jo, asked me what I thought of the name. I was trying to explain how much I disliked being called "Joe" (as I was up until the age of 22 ish), although I think it's a great name for other people (I know a lot of Jo(e)s!), but inadvertently said to her,

"Actually, I really don't like Joe" which, due to the way in which names are used in Japan, came across as "Actually, I really don't like you".

The whole office went silent ...before laughter broke out. I was so embarrassed I literally ran away, hiding in my little phone cubicle at the other end of the office for a couple of hours (marking essays).

As my move into my HR position approaches (I take over recruitment at the beginning of December) so my lack of business-Japanese becomes more apparent. I find it astonishing just how little confidence I have using Japanese in business situations versus everyday social situations. I must continue to fight the urge to slip back into English when feeling frustrated by a lack of vocab in the office.

My weekly Japanese lesson is helping (as is Anki). Whilst my lesson may only be one hour every Thursday its effect lasts for the whole week. Knowing that I am 'actively studying Japanese' encourages me to carry my electronic dictionary around with me, to look up words when on the go, to ask people to explain stuff that I don't understand. It's vital for me that I remain an active learner.

The increased use of RSS feeds by blog-writing friends, combined with iPhone's Facebook and Twitter Apps is having a pretty strong impact upon my feeling of being connected with friends near and far. I'm now subscribed to 53 blogs written by people I actually know, with about half of them being updated on a regular basis. I love being allowed to share in their experiences. I learn from them. I'm inspired by them. I'm moved by them.

There are some amazing people out there
who are facing some very difficult challenges. RSS brings the part of their lives that they choose to share into my news reader inbox, allowing me to think of them throughout the day as I go about my business.

I like having access to Facebook when out and about too (enjoying commenting on items in the newsfeed) - good to see that Twitter's slowly gaining momentum as well.

My MacBook's hardrive has been running out of space recently, but I'll have to wait until January for Toshiba's new 500GB 2.5inch drive to be released. Thus, a few days back I moved all of my music from my internal hard disk to an external drive. This then necessitated the resetting of my iTunes library - playlists, ratings, last played status etc. all back to factory default (i.e. gone)

What a refreshing change! If like me you find yourself listing to the same music again and again due to the way your library has evolved, I thoroughly recommend making a fresh start. I'm discovering all sorts of music I never even knew I had, bloomin marvellous. I love music.

I love Bloom too. Anyone in need of relaxation (and in posession of an iPhone or iPod touch) needs it. Oh, and those of us in Japan - Ekitan (available in the Japanese App store) now uses GPS to find the station you're travelling from, whilst Google Mobile App has voice recognition for some very funny search results. Maybe my accent is just too British... Oh, and 'Japanese' (a dictionary) DOES support handwritten kanji input - enable the Chinese handwriting keyboard.

Tokyo's getting bloody cold now, and our house is absolutely freezing. (they've has a load of snow in North Japan this week) I've finally succumbed to using the air-conditioner for about 15 mins before bead. Need to get some indoor gloves.

Anyway, best get some kip.

night night.



Blogger Jimjamjenny said...

Isn't anki fantastic?? I've been using it for over a year (not entirely consistently) and it seems to really work. I'm sure if I actually used in consistently it would work even better!! I don't know if you do this, but one of the things that I find most helpful when learning a new word/whatever is trying to use as much Japanese as possible (ie a japanese definition of the word), and then try to include the sentence which I found it in, because then you can easily remember how it can be used as well.


21/11/08 03:03  
Blogger Joseph said...

That's good to hear.

Good plan to put it in context. I think the lack of context is one problem I always had with flashcards. I shall do that from now on, and add some full sentences to the 40 words I currently have in there.


21/11/08 07:38  
Blogger Orchid64 said...

Ah, Joseph, you dreamer. You're hoping to win a battle D. and I fought for many years before you arrived when it comes to converting to Macs. I'm not saying it'll never happen, but the clunky proprietary student database and the lack of knowledge of Macs amongst the Japanese staff are like an anchor holding them to Windows. Well, there's that and the cost issues and the fact that they exchange files with clients and they all use PCs as well.

I tried. He tried. I donated two old Macs which they accepted, but then they just kept buying new PCs.

21/11/08 07:53  
Blogger Megane~kun said...

My friend is using Anki as well. I guess the fact that she's still using it, and you guys are using it, proves that it really is effective! Will try it now to help me in my JLPT exams this year.

And I agree, this morning my breath came out white. Woo! And I thought my gloves weren't working because it was so cold when I had them on. But when I took them off, they went numb! (had a hard time putting them back on again)

21/11/08 10:57  
Blogger Michael Downey said...

It's freezing here in Leeds too! Your office experiences sound good - I for one would be interested in the daily ins-and-outs of your work in some future updates.

On a side note, I'm trying to update more frequently now myself. Seems lack of regular posting might be what is really slowing me down with readers. Just out of interest, how many visits do you have per day?

Also, one final question, more of a request really, can you give me any advice on applying for the CIR position? I'm just in the application stage right now, but interview advice and what to expect/prepare would be a big help! You have my email if you would like to share something ^^

21/11/08 11:02  
Blogger Joseph said...

Orchid64: I can see there's a lot more to the Mac resistance than meets the eye. Still, I shall never give up, never surrender!

Megane-kun: you can download JLPT sets of Anki cards too - I'll be using it for JLPT - I need all the help I can get :-) keep warm!

Michael, email has been sent (as you know already..!)

26/11/08 14:31  

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