Swype for Android

It’s not often that you encounter something that significantly changes the way you do things in such a subtle fashion. I’ve signed up for the Beta of Swype for Android. Registration will probably only be open for a few days; demand is high.

So what is Swype? Well it’s a new means of inputting text into an Android device (at least for starters). I’ve a feeling this is going to be on so many devices in the future. I’m sure there’s a complex algorithm under the bonnet, but this is so quick and easy to use it’s going to make a significant different to the way I’ll be able to work into the future. For example, I’m thinking of creating a mobile blog for jotting down quick thoughts throughout the day, and Swype will make that practical and possible. It’s so easy to get started with using as well.

The special thing about Swype is the way you just slide your finger or thumb across the keypad and spell out the word, increasing the input rate significantly from the customary double thumb approach preferred by many. So much so that the texting world record has recently been set using Swype.

This video of a presentation by the CEO (perhaps a bit long but you don’t need to watch it all) demonstrates things better.

[blip.tv ?posts_id=1378748&dest=-1]

There’s a set of Swype tips videos on Youtube. This one shows you a trick to type even faster:

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Data Visualization

For a long time I’ve been interested in infographics. More recently I’m finding myself increasingly interested in data visualization. I don’t currently have the time to study any programming necessary for manipulating data, so I turned my attention to something I do know about – identifying and using freely available online services. So for the last couple of days I’ve been looking at what’s available, and here are some of my findings.

I’ll start with Tableau Public. On the site there’s free software to download, and the video provides an excellent introduction to the capabilities of the software and service. It’s simply a case of importing your data set and using the intuitive and straightforward operations of the software to quickly create visual representations of the data for easy interpretation. But that’s not all. You can now upload the graph, or map, or dashboard to the web onto the Tableau Software server. From there you can access it and embed it into a blog or elsewhere. But the information is served live, so it’s interactive, therefore the readers and other users of the information can manipulate the representation to narrow an area of the data, to target specific information of interest; heck, they can even embed it into their own blog and distribute the information more widely. The fact that the Wall Street Journal and UNESCO have used it to illustrate points from raw data has to speak volumes. I’ll certainly be using it in earnest from now on.

Another service to consider is Widgenie. This is a completely online service that allows you to create five types of graphical output. There is a very useful realtime representation of the graph alongside the creation ‘wizard’. Once you’ve finished creating your ‘widget’ you can then link to the graph for example to give co-workers access, you can publish to your iGoogle desktop, or you can embed it using the supplied code into a blog or webpage. There are some useful instructional video screencasts to help you get started.

Finally, if you are wanting to study some existing data sets, relating to the UK ecomomy for example, I’d suggest having a look at Timetric. Here you can view graphs, and manipulate the data, adding in additional elements from a series to compare the data graphically. Here’s the Retail Price Index, UK: average prices of the basket of goods used as an example.

Zoom H1 Audio Recorder

Samson recently announced the launch of their new Zoom H1 Audio Recorder. From the images and the spec it looks rather nice. The form-factor makes it useful for those interviews, with a look that appears as though it will feel more like holding a standard microphone. It has an X-Y stereo configuration, records to microSD cards, records WAV @ 96kHz/48kHz/44.1kHz @ 16-bit or 24-bit, and claims to run for 10 hours on one AA battery. An interesting marketing point for me is that it fits on a hot shoe mount on the top of a DSLR, and with those things capable of filming incredible HD movies, having such a useful audio recorder in situ is a real positive. I’m rather interested in this one.

Full details from Samson.

Quizlet ™ Flashcard based memory testing

Quizlet™ is a rather good flashcard based learning tools.

Screenshot of Quizlet flashcard

You can create your own set of flashcards or use the large library created by others and made public.

The flashcards allow you to learn subject terms in a number of ways, and test yourself or your students also in a number of ways, including quiz questions and a couple of game based tests.

Quizlet screenshot of study and game options

I personally particularly enjoyed the scatter game, where you have to drag terms onto their definitions, or vice versa, against the clock. You can then repeat the game and try to beat your best time.

Screenshot of Quizlet Scatter game

This demo screencast explains Quizlet™ nicely.

Existing flashcards you can use to learn with are categorized into:

  • Arts & Literature
    • Literature
    • Authors
    • Books
    • Music
    • Visual Arts
    • Performing Arts
    • Others
  • Languages & Vocabulary
    • Parts of Speech
    • English and European Languages
    • Asian & Pacific Languages
    • Chinese Languages
    • Japanese Languages
    • Indian Languages
    • Middle Eastern Languages
    • Slavic Languages
    • Others
  • Maths & Science
    • Chemistry
    • Earth Sciences
    • Engineering
    • Health Sciences
    • Life Sciences
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
  • History & Geography
    • Anthropology
    • Civics
    • History
    • Religion
    • Countries
    • Regions
    • Cities
  • Standardized Tests
  • Professional & Careers
    • Business & Financial
    • Computers & Engineering
    • Healthcare & Medicine
    • Law
    • Others