Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Red Red Wine

A couple weeks back, Waiterrant posted a guide entitled "How to Order Wine Without Looking Like an A$#hole". Waiterrant in one of my favorite blogs, and I enjoyed his common sense tips acquired from years of dealing with wine snobs at "The Bistro". Here are some of his comments:

9. DO NOT SMELL THE CORK! - When I see someone do this I know I’m dealing with a complete amateur. Guess what you’re gonna smell? Cork!

12. Taste the wine – Now you take a sip. If the wine tastes like vinegar or smells like moldy cheese it’s bad.

13. Sending the wine back – If the wine’s bad send it back! It’s no skin off our nose. Usually we get a credit from the distributor. In most cases, however, people refuse a perfectly good bottle of wine just because they don’t like it.

15. The Big Glasses – At my bistro we have very serviceable red and white wine glasses. However, some yuppies have a wine glass fetish and insist on sipping $6 Chianti out of a $50 Riedel balloon glass. Stop whining. The big glasses are for people who order older expensive wines that need to breathe. People who drink cheap wine out of the “big glasses” usually want the neighboring tables to think they’re drinking something pricey when they aren’t.

Here are some more wine resources:

Top-rated wines available in the US for under 20 dollars
The Seven best wine blogs
Cooking and Wine Podcasts at Learn out Loud
Flickr's Wine Group (lots of nice photos here)
Wine finder Search Engine (International)

For information on other drinks, visit The Bar, an interactive webpage complete with many recipes and a story telling bartender. To mix on the go, try one of these iPod bartenders.

By the way, the photos above are some of my own. Enjoy UB40's Red Red Wine!

Rhetorical Devices Handbook

If you want to know an Epanalepsis from a Polysyndeton, A Handbook of Rhetorical Devices can help. Originally published in 1980, Robert A.Harris has made the full text available online. Here's a sample from the section on Zuegma:

"In one form (prozeugma), the yoking word precedes the words yoked. So, for example, you could have a verb stated in the first clause understood in the following clauses:
  • Pride opresseth humility; hatred love; cruelty compassion. --Peacham
  • Fred excelled at sports; Harvey at eating; Tom with girls.
  • Alexander conquered the world; I, Minneapolis."

The detailed material can be tough to follow on a computer screen. Fortunately, since the whole text is loaded on one page, it's easy to print the entire book. Later, test your rhetoric skills with the quiz.

Monday, January 30, 2006

The TBR Family Welcomes Free Tech Books

The Textbook Revolution network continues to grow. The newest member of the family is Free Tech Books. Jason and I freely admit that we don't know a fraction of what's necessary to index all the computer science and programming books freely available on the web. Fortunately, Ndaru will fix that for us. Ndaru's site will be the index for all our tech books. So if you want free tech books, go to Free Tech Books. Simple. We're working to make all the books in the TBR catalog available on Free Tech Books. While plans for tighter integration are in the future, recipricol linking will help users at both sites find what they're looking for right now.

Rockin' Book Covers

Admit it. You've purchased at least one book just because it had great cover art. Even Beowulf can be a best-seller with the help of a skillful designer. Oprey Design's Foreward is a blog dedicated to the topic of book covers. Since this is Osprey's business, most entries are quite insightful and often include links to innovative publishing and design sites. The excellent Covers also critiques great and popular book covers. Along with every submission are several knowledgable comments on the design. See some of fwis' other projects, such as the Readymech flatpack toys.

Squashed Philosophers

Squashed Philosophers is not cliffnotes. Rather, Glyn Hughes uncovers the brilliant ideas buried deep in thick tomes through skillful editting. The current list contains dozens of classic works from Plato to Sartre. Alongside the entries are pie charts showing the estimated time (05-60 minutes) needed to read each abridgment. Although some key philosophers are missing, Squashed Philosphers kindly includes a link to Google's philosophy online texts directory. For more philosophy resources, try EpistemeLinks. Glyn Hughes has also started a series of Squashed Writers and Squashed Divines.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Learn Out Loud: Siddhartha

Here's something cool. With the Free Audiobook of the Month Club, the Learn Out Loud folks will be making available a complete, professionally narrated book every month.

Herman Hesse's Siddhartha is the first release (great choice). I've been listening to the audio files at work, and I'm very impressed. With over four hours of material and excellent sound quality, Learn Out Loud's Siddhartha is comparable to a commercially sold production. Since the narration is broken into a series of MP3/MPEG-4 files, it's easy to take on a section at a time.

There are many good sites creating free audiobooks (Librivox, the Spoken Alexandria Project, Project Gutenberg, etc.), but Learn Out Loud continues to impress by making a real effort to push a select number of high quality materials. By the way, the free library is now over 600 titles.

Next month’s title is the Tao Te Ching. Excellent.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Stingy’s Spain Part 5: Madrid Links

I thought I’d wrap up this series with a bunch of useful links for visitors and new residents in Madrid. Although most of the links are Madrid focused, many are applicable to all of Spain.

A good place to look for an apartment is Segundamano, which is essentially a cross between classified ads and Craigslist. There are a number of hostels all over Madrid - here's a good source for info. For the more adventurous, there's also Couch Surfing.

This great post at Lonely Planet contains a wealth of advice on travelling around Western Europe. To find cheap flights leaving from Madrid-Barajas, the best search engines are Trabber, eDreams and Viajar. There are more, but I’ve had the most luck with these three. You might also what to see the specials for each major airline: Iberia, Spanair, and Air Europa. AirMadrid and Vueling are two low cost airlines. Look in the free papers handed out by the Metro- there are often super cheap specials. If you are looking to travel by train, Seat 61 is a great guide.

Phone & Internet
You will you probably have the smoothest experience with Telefonica, even though it costs a little bit more. Because Telefonica maintains most of the phone lines, it's easier to get problems fixed. (You will pay Telefonia around 17 euros per month for line maintenance no matter who you choose). Like I mentioned the other day, there are several places where you can get free wireless: see this list and El Naranja. With cellphones there are more options and lots of special deals.

This is the best article I’ve seen on finding a job in Spain. Unless you’re from the EU, it can be hard to get working papers. Your best bet is to get a job through an employer in your country with an office here to arrange a transfer. If you take classes at a university and have a student visa, you can work a certain number of hours. Many foreigners here teach English - both legally and under the table. If this is what you want to do, ask around the English-speaking circles (J&J Books is a good place to start). Also, Escape Artist is a good resource for finding jobs across the world.

See this previous post for some good Spanish sites. The BBC page is awesome. Ultralingua is a great resource for translation and conjugation. Alpha Dictionary has a lot of specialized dictionaries (i.e. Spanish economics words).

Getting Around & Doing Stuff
Munimadrid has info on everything. Their tourism guide is quite nice. Here is an interactive map of the Metro . If you are looking to get around, find a street, or see movie listing, try La Netro (movies are usually dubbed - look for V.O., i.e. original language).

Good resources to find out what's going on are Le Cool (Barcelona and Madrid), Top Madrid, Looc, and Pacha's magazine. Also, Pixel y Dixel and Elastico and two blogs that often discuss interesting places and events. The best sites in English are Mad About Madrid and In Madrid.

Hope you enjoyed Stingy's Spain!

Stingy's Spain Part 1: Bibliometro
Stingy's Spain Part 2: Ciberpais
Stingy's Spain Part 3: Copyfight
Stingy's Spain Part 4: SubversiveBankGames
Stingy's Spain Part 5: Madrid Links

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Hot Babes / Hot Educational Links

WARNING: Not Work Safe.
Against my better judgment, I have to post this site because it is the oddest educational site I've ever seen. I'm not used to seeing posts on Brazilian Bird songs and Italian cemetary monuments next to Jamie Presley nude photo galleries. A sample:

Scholars studying the Holocaust, the attempted destruction of the Jews of Europe, soon face a central issue: How much information[al] awareness [did] the American government have as to what was taking place, and why [if] they were aware of what was taking place did they not act to prevent the mass murders...
[perhaps a list of BABES links later in the day]

This is from a single post. Check for yourself if you don’t believe me. This guy makes dozens of posts per day. Here are some of gems I found here, all from this month:

Web Gallery of Art (nice art gallery)
Native Tech: Native American Technology and Art
Japan Manhole Gallery
Episteme Links for Philosophical Resources (tons of stuff here)
An Evaluation of Chaco Anasazi Roadways
Arthritis Insight: The Complete guide to living with arthritis
Game Theory .net - Resources for Learning and Teaching Strategy for Business and Life
Nature-Wildlife The photography and behavior of African and North American mammals and birds
University of Delaware Library: FORGING A COLLECTION
Condom history, effectiveness and testing
:Ten Top Accidental Discoveries
I want to - a page of utilities that help you do stuff you want to Web 2.0 applications
Strange Science: The Rocky Road to Modern Paleontology and Biology (discusses the psuedo-science that let to the modern discipline)
The Tomb of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep
RedPhoneBox (A history of British telephone booths)
S. D. Jones: Folk Art in Bottles
Historical Photos of Weather Damage
BiblioVault - Overview (great collection of scholarly full texts)
Classical and Opera Music used in Movies - Home and search
Nature of the Beast [Pacific Asia Museum] (animals in Asian art - great flash site with games)
Games and Simulations at Nobelprize.org (understand the work of Nobel Prize Winners through these games and simulations)

If you think that porn and the NY Times Circuit Section belong together, then check this site out. You can say you read it for the educational links.

Thanks to anonymous Dave for the tip.

iTunes U

Tama alerted me to the new iTunes U service, which hosts media files for colleges and universities. Since he already wrote a great profile of the program, I won’t reinvent the wheel. The Chronicle of Higher Education also has a good article on the program.

By the way, I really like Tama’s blog. He balances e-learning theory and philosophy with a practical educator’s perspective.

An update from Tama: iTunes U supports any file format.

Stingy’s Spain Part 4: SubversiveBankGames

It's cool to see La Caixa, a major Catalunyan bank, sponsor something like The Game As Critic As Art conference. From the Intro:

The appropriation and modification of videogames - reverse engineering - is in itself a subversive act that implies a double intentionality: to critique (to rewrite) and to create (to recreate). These characteristics take an even greater relevance in online and offline gaming.

The event already happened but you can still enjoy the games they discussed. The extensive list is classified into topics such as New Systems of Social Justice and Games Against the Oversimplification of Facts and History. Click on the Juegos tab to browse the games by category. Although the site is in Spanish, most of the games are in English. If you want to see just one sample game, choose Escape From Woomera (pictured), an Austalian game that confronts their little discussed refugee camps (see faqs and screenshots).

All the other events and resources offered by the La Caixa Foundation for Social Work can be found on their main page. They are always hosting interest events, such as a symposium on innovative Arab film currently taking place.

Since we’re on the topic of videogames, here's a list of educational online games offered by the Telefonica foundation in Peru. These games can be a fun way for semi-proficient Spanish speakers to hone their skills. I particularly liked the “Choose Your Own Adventure” styled Cuatro Oscuro. The Curiosikids Experiments explain many scientific principles through brief explanations and short games that demonstrate and test the knowledge.

Visit Persuasive Games if you haven't yet. They build games for “persuasion, influence, and activism”. For example, you can try their "Disaffected" Kinkos game:

Disaffected! gives the player the chance to step into the demotivated position of real FedEx Kinkos employees. Feel the indifference of these purple-shirted malcontents first-hand, and consider the possible reasons behind their malaise -- is it mere incompetence? Managerial affliction? Unseen but serious labor issues?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Sun Doggies

Here's a site displaying Atmospheric Optics – the lovely visual spectacles naturally formed by water and light. In addition to many gorgeous photos, the site contains short but informative explanations of each phenomenum.

A bibliography and links to other sites are also included.

Stingy's Spain Part 3: Copyfight

You may have heard about the Copyfight conference last July in Barcelona. Many distinguished speakers – including Cory Doctorow, Lawrence Lessig and Jimmy Wales – presented analyses on the effect of dysfunctional copyright law on culture and society.

Tomorrow and Friday, Copyfight will be continuing this theme with discussions on literature, software, music and culture. Also on display will be Crime Scene (pictured below), an art piece consisting of two computers that are programmed to share copyrighted files via P2P in a closed system. The observer must ask himself if a crime has been committed. Holland says yes - the piece has been declared illegal (link in English). The next Copyfight event will be a symposium on Illegal Art this February 1, 2, and 3.

Through March5, the CASM Centre d'Art at Santa Monica will house Copyfight’s Punto de Consulta (consultation point). The consultation point displays a cornicopia of copyright-free art and information including a documentation stand with details on how to use legal licenses such as Creative Commons and Art Livre for more flexible author rights.

Whether or not you'll be in Barcelona, the Copyfight online library is a valuable resource for everyone. It contains a great selection of academic texts, open software, videogames, and audiovisual materials. The majority of these materials are in English.

If you are looking for more scholarly information on the movement to reform intellectual property, check out this Rollyo, which searches through several massive archives of writings and discussions (click on list of sites at the bottom of the screen to explore them one by one). Also check out the Copyright Journal, a new web publication devoted exclusively to this topic.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

History Chats, Questions & Timelines

Berkeley's Conversations With History televisions series contains interviews with dozens of distinguished educators, politicians and writers. Their extensive streaming video archives contain discussions with such figures as Robert S. McNamara, Howard Zinn and Oliver Stone. Also check out two interesting interviews with Sir Brian Urquhart, the man who pretty much invented the concept of UN peace keepers (For more interviews with Sir Brian Urquhart and other UN greats, visit the UN Oral History Collection).

Here are three history timeline pages.
Timelines of History has an extraordinarily detailed sequential breakdown of basically every major event that has occurred on planet earth. The companion site, timelinesdb.com permits even more search options, such as the ability to create parallel timelines. For example, you can trace the history of economics alongside the history of the environment from 1900-2006.

Hyper History Online is a Discovery Channel endorsed history information database that can be viewed by people, history, event, and maps. Hyper History also sell the famous world history wall chart.

In addition to great detailed text, Fsmitha contains tons of great maps for tons of times and places in history. To see all maps, go here.

If you haven't seen Edge's "What Is Your Dangerous Idea?", be sure to check it out. It's been mentioned all over the place and is worth this hype. Lots of very interesting propositions.

Some samples:

The evidence that tribal peoples often damage their environments and make war

The world may fundamentally be inexplicable

When will the Internet become aware of itself?

The hyper-Islamicist critique of the West as a decadent force that is already on a downhill course might be true

The Jacktracker

The "24" Jacktracker follows the hourly path of everyone's favorite CTU hero, Jack Bauer. The Jacktracker merges maps, plot synopsis, pictures and videoclips.
From Gridskipper:

Courtesy of the fine folks at Wayfaring, Flickr, YouTube, and of course, Fox TV’s 24, we’re proud to introduce the latest in time-wasting map technology: the Gridskipper Jacktracker, in which we map Jack Bauer’s progress through 24 hours of travel, terrorism, and mayhem, generally committed in and around Los Angeles.

Putting aside all action-packed 24 action, mash-ups like the Jacktracker demonstrate how easy it is to combine these social networking sites to create a fun and interactive interface. Think of how this could be used scientifically to follow bird migrations or in an art class to track the work of graffiti artists including video and photos. Browse Google Maps Mania for more ideas.

Stingy's Spain Part 2: Ciber P@ís

Munimadrid is a public program to help Madrileños learn and use new technology. The city has set-up 21 learning centers where residents can connect to the internet and ask knowledgable instructors about computers. The Munimadrid website contains lots of very basic information on everything from buying a computer to making a webpage or playing computer games. The information is accompanies by great anthropomorphic computer cartoons like the ones in this post (here's a Flickr photostream so you can see them all). On the Munimadrid site, you can also download Sun's StarOffice 7 for free...after filing a petition. This is still Spain after all.

El País contains a lengthy tech news supplement every Thursday. In addition to many informative interviews and articles, the Ciberpais supplement contains practical links and tutorials. Most of the supplement can be found on the El País website. EP3 is a Friday supplement containing tons of edgy articles on music, art, sex, literature and culture. Even if you don't speak a word of Spanish, you can enjoy the well-designed EP3 webpage.

If you're looking for free wireless in Madrid, check out this list. For a reliable connection and people who won't bug you, I highly recommend Giangrossi (#5 on list). Also, our neighborhood hangout, El Naranja, now has free Wi-Fi.

Monday, January 23, 2006

What's That Bug?

Etymologists and 10 year old boys rejoice! What's That Bug? has all the facts and photos you need to identify that aphid, ant, or caterpillar. Did you see these cool "food chain" bug-battle pix? Whoa! What's That Bug? also encourages readers to send in questions with a picture. The friendly editors will identify your mysterious infestations and answer all your bug-related questions. If you're on a diet, read the worst bug story ever.

Stingy's Spain Part 1: Bibliometro

For those who didn't know, I live in Madrid. This week, I thought I'd share several really innovative educational programs and websites from Spain.

(I'm not Spanish - I'm from Jersey. Not the island-state between England and France, but the interstate between Exits 4 and 5.)

First on the list: Bibliometro. From years living in New York, I'm happy to leave the subway with my wallet, let alone literature. But the Madrid metro is different. It's clean, cheap, and efficient. Now it also includes these mini-library stands.

Sign-up only takes a few minutes. After the librarians give you a library card, you can select your book using the touch screen (as demonstrated by the lovely Cheli). Each of the seven stations contains 3000 volumes consisting of 500 titles. The selection is very good, too. The librarians also provide you with an accordian fold-up pocket list so you can choose your next book at home.

There is no fine for late books. Instead, you can't check out another book for an amount of time equal to your tardiness ( i.e. two days late to return the book, wait two days to check out another). Go Bibliometro.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Dept of Ed Free Learning Portal (Hi Mom)

The US Department of Education has put together a portal linking to hundreds of federally supported free educational sites. Think of it as Merlot, but with a political objective. (i'm kidding. I joke). A couple of new sites I found:
The William Blake archive
Salem Witch Trials Document Archive
Middle English texts
the Animal Diversity Web
FBI Youth (good site that teaches a lot of forensics)

Be sure to check out the copyright teaching cyberbee who makes it fun to learn your sorely limited rights to use copyrighted materials - even for school projects! (click the girl on the bottom-left).

Thanks to my mom for sending me this site.

Who's Got My Molecule?

Chmoogle is the google of chemistry. Follow the rules to the letter, but Chmoogle can help you find tons of great chemistry weblinks. Make a search by carefully enter the search terms or drawing the molecule in a popup Java applet.

Thanks to Jon Bischke for showing me this and to Thomas for the photo.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Book Burro

Lifehacker tipped me off to Book Burro, a free Firefox plug-in that (1) senses you're looking at a book description and (2) tells you the cheapest place to buy it. Watch the movie to see how easy it is to install and run Book Burro. Lifehacker also claims that the seach will expand to include libraries. Pretty cool!

More Academic Freeware

Here is a descriptive list of academic freeware. While you may recognize some of the items on this list, I'm sure you will find some new ones. For example, use Hot Potatoes to create crosswords and quizzes. Or Lexi for PalmOS / LexiCreator for Windows to create flashcards for studying on your palm. If you would like your ebooks to look and feel more like a paperback, check out yBook. Looking for more? Revisit this index of free software alternatives, particularly the education section.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Your Inner Math Geek

Here are a couple fun sites to get you playing around with numbers.

Curious Math is a page full of math tricks and techniques. The entries are brief enough to go through in a few minutes and many are quite useful. For example, see this entry on multiplying two three-digit numbers or this post on multiplying up to 20x20. If you're looking for more, check out the forum.

Inner Algebra is a free Ebook that shows you how to solve equations in your head using techniques such as visualization, chunking and windowing. A lot of seasoned math geeks, for whom these processes are second-nature, might find it interesting to see the steps written out as a method. Anyone taking a standardized test in the near future (GMAT, SATs) could benefit from these time-saving techniques.

Lastly, if you've never gone before, visit math geek mecca: Wolfram's MathWorld. In addition to information on dozens of topics from Geometry to Topology, MathWorld has a classroom with a bunch of learning modules. Be sure to also check out Recreational Mathematics.

These material all make me nostalgic for math camp...Did I say math camp? I meant quarterback camp.

See these animated GIFs from Wolfram's MathWorld.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Nuvvo's Learning Tools

Looking to put your class on-line? Like Moodle, but want your site to look and feel like desktop software? Time to check out Nuvvo. Making the most of trendy web styles and programming techniques, the team at Savvica has developed a site which is only beginning to scratch the surface of its potential. Take the tour to see what can be done with Nuvvo. I'm happy to see more free classes popping-up. Here are some other ideas on how the could be utilized:

Professor Piggly teaches at BCD (the Best College in Delaware). His comparative literature class, “The Dialectical Development of the Detective Novel”, is unfortunately held on Thursday nights when most of his students are off partying. Prof. Piggly doesn't mind, though, since he was pretty wild back in his days. He just wants his students to keep up with the material. Prof. Piggly discovered Nuvvo and thought it could help. He signed up and got the URL piggly.learninghub.net. He created his course and loaded the syllabus for his class. Prof. Piggly got a video camera for Christmas and decided to put it to good use. He films his Thursday class and uploads the videos to Nuvvo – it's just like attaching a file to an e-mail. For each class, Prof. Piggly has a video and his notes. He wants to make sure his students watch the class so he creates brief tests that they can take. The tests are automatically scored and cumulative grades are calculated.

Ms. Bunny Pierzing has created a class on expressive body piercing. Bunny has developed some innovative and highly original piercing techniques at her Asbury Park parlor. Bunny thought about creating a blog and loading the videos on a free host, but she didn't want them available in searches. Bunny doesn't have much web designing skills so she's not going to create a site on her own. With Nuvvo she can control access to all of her videos and explanations. When students sign-up, they pay her (a modest sum) through Nuvvo's ecommerce connection. She hates PayPal, so she's happy to get a check mailed to her. Plus, Bunny can customize the site to load her logo and make the background red, her favorite color.

Terry Turtlebaum loves 24. Although he couldn't believe that he had to wait until January for this season to start, he watched the prequel over 50 times and loved the four-hour season premier. Terry created a page which will contains quizzes and discussion on each episode, links to every mention of Kiefer Sutherland, and information on the “Fact and Feasability” of the scenarios Jack encounters. Although he could have created a website or blog, he liked the idea of an easy-to-build an exclusive community. Plus, since Terry could enable RSS feeds, he decided that this was the way to go.

Just some ideas. Whether homebrewed opencoursewares or a chance to make a few extra bucks, Nuvvo is providing the tools. Looking forward to seeing how people use it.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Dead Languages

Textkit is your resource for learning Greek and Latin. The site contains tons of grammars, readers, and tutorials for learning Ancient Greek and Latin. Textkit also hosts 89 classical eBooks, forums, and study groups. Sign-up for the Textkit vocabularily learning tool to receive e-mail lessons tailored to your skill level.

Tutorial Me

I've seen two tutorial archives making the rounds over the past couple days. Pixel2Life has wide range of tutorials on a number of programming languages and software. Oprah likes Tutorialized - and who's going to argue with Oprah? Both sites have been around for a while and include a large number of links. Good news: lots to choose from. Bad News: lots to filter through.

Many of the tutorials show their age, especially compared to recent "hip" tutorials like Why's Poignant Guide to Ruby and 24 Ways. Also, for most of these topics, you can find full books for free. Check out the list of Computer Science books at Textbook Revolution. Also, if you are looking to get started with AJAX or Ruby, start with these Top Ten lists (AJAX /

The Straight Dope

From playground legends, to stoner conspiracy theories, to the questions you never thought to ask, the Straight Dope will set you straight:
What is déjà vu?
Does smoking have any health benefits?
In Steve Miller's "The Joker," what is "the pompatus of love"?
Which freezes faster, hot water or cold water?
Can a Munchkin be seen committing suicide in The Wizard of Oz?
Can hair turn white overnight from fright?
Can you write a check on any old piece of paper?
What gets the better gas mileage: windows up, AC on, or windows down, AC off?
Could a nuclear weapon be built and carried in a suitcase?
Why do photographers ask you to say "cheese"?
Was Walt Disney a fascist?

Visit their archives for many more.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

King Arthur Resources

I admit I'm on a video kick this week. Brittania has a great portal with lots of information on the legend of King Arthur. A couple months ago, I was watching Michael Wood's "In Search of Myths and Heroes" with my father-in-law. The series include chapters on King Arthur and the Holy Grail, Shangra-La, The Golden Fleece, and the Queen of Sheeba. It's definitely worth catching a broadcast of the show or purchasing the DVD's (US - UK). I don't want to give away the ending to the King Arthur chapter, but I will say that Michael Wood finds a bit of truth to the myth.

Update -
Camelot resources.

Radical Investing

Here are some great "free and objective" guides to personal finance. Currently, they have information on Bond Basics, Bond Investing Online, Credit Cards, Investing, Life Insurance, and Beijing, China for some reason - I figure they're planning on making more travel guides. The Investing guide also has a nice one page summary. If you want to see a sample a Radical Guide entry, check out this post on why Air Mile Reward Cards are generally a bad idea.

If you're looking to learn more about economics, a number of good, free books have been posted on TBR's economics textbook archive. Check out the 329-page Introduction to Economic Analysis from the California Institute of Technology. A shorter alternative is Economics in One Lesson. You might also enjoy these Ten Recurring Economic Fallacies.

NYTimes Video

A post from Lost Remote introduced me to the NYTimes video section. An interested variety of clips, high quality resolution, and fast loads. They also have XML feeds. Good to have running in the background at work. I also like that the next video in each topic automatically loads.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Skype Language Exchange

Looking for a language exchange partner? Try Skype. Hazar.com has set-up a language exchange program.
Click the "Skype Me" button to contact a speaking partner in Turkish, English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Danish, Chinese or Portuguese. And add yourself to the list. Danke to Ben for the photo.

Great WebComix

A list of great (mainly free) web comics. I like Dinosaur Comics and Jellaby. I would also add Explosm to the list.

Nintendo, KISS, and More Fun with Video

Another great tip from David at Open History - Google Video now allows you to post the HTML code directly to your site. This means you can easily blog great BBC documentaries like "Inside Nintendo"...

...handy academic materials like this short MIT video introduction to OpenCourseWare...

...or less educational materials like this Showtime documentary on KISS.

David also has a great History Channel video, "Ape To Man", over at his blog.

I've heard some mixed reviews on the new Google video store. I personally like the interface, although I certainly won't be paying $1.99 for old I Love Lucy episodes or $4 to watch the Knicks lose. In any case, the Google and iTunes video stores promote video on the web, which ultimately trickles down into free educational materials.

A number of universities are getting on board with video or "webcasts". MIT, Berkeley, and the University of Washington (UWTV) are all offering videos of courses and lectures. The Berkeley webcasts offer complete classes via RSS and UWTV has a large library that can be browsed by subject. A number of companies, such as Learner.org, are also offering free educational videos including these popular French and German video classes (Disclaimer: you have to sign-up and your computer has to be in the US or Canada to access the classes). If you're looking for more video, be sure to also check out the previously mentioned MediaSite and LearnOutLoud.com.

One more thing, Google Video now lets you download the free content, but use this tool to download from iFilm or YouTube.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Texas Spanish Proficiency Exercises

No, not lessons to speak Spanish like a Texan, but another great free page coming out of the University of Texas at Austin. This site contains 85 modules, each containing 6 videos of native speakers discussing various topics. While the Quicktime video is playing, you can choose to view a transcipt in Spanish or English. Each module includes a breakdown of key vocabulary, phrases, and grammar.

One of the hard parts of learning a language is making that jump from the rudiments definitions and conjugations. This site can help you make the jump to actually understanding speakers. I've tried the Rosetta Stone and, while I highly recommend it, the program is incredibly expensive - $49.00 per month for a basic online subscriptions (they also make it difficult to unsubscribe). Rosetta Stone works primarily by pairing-up, then selectively focusing on, written text and audio. These modules from UT at Austin work in the same way. I also like that each video identifies the nationality of the native speaker.

If you are looking for more Spanish help, there are plenty of pages out there. Merlot is a good place to start (249 search results for "spanish"). I like these grammar exercises to polish up specific grammar topics that give me trouble and Ultralingua for translations and conjugations. The BBC also has a great program for Spanish, as well as French, German and Italian. Two great spanish blogs for casual reading are Pixel y Dixel and La Petite Claudine. Both blogs have tons of great links to other high quality sites in Spanish.

Monday, January 09, 2006

PBS Nova Video Online

Welcome back! I found a number of great sites over the holidays. First on the list - PBS Nova has a number of their episodes available to watching online as streaming video. Currently, there are 11 episodes available including the Elegant Universe and Life's Greatest Miracle (update to the Miracle of Life...trust me, you've seen it). Also check out the NOVA special on Katrina and the 4 scienceNOW episodes.

PBS was smart to divide the episodes into chapters, enabling quick loads even with a slow internet connection. The shows are also available in Quicktime, WMA, and RealMedia formats.