Sensible Chinese Character Challenge 2014 Milestone 2!

It's that time again! Yep, when I update you on how I am doing in this Chinese challenge. Just as a refresher, you can click here to see my initial post, and click here to see my second post. Also you can check out the Hacking Chinese post if you want to join the challenge.

Like in the last two posts I showed these initial milestones.

  1. April 8th: 157 new words
  2. April 30th: 314 new words
  3. May 31st: 471 new words
  4. June 30th: 628 new words
I also reported that I had hit my first 2 milestones by the first milestone, but I didn't expect to keep that pace. I have learned 405 new words. Part of what slowed me down was that I am finishing up my senior project, and could not devote as much time to this as I wanted. Another part was that I unexpectedly got a staph infection that sent me to urgent care three times. :-( Good news is that I am all healed up and School ends next week. I still think I will be able to hit my May 31st goal. I will still be taking a slower pace this next month. 

Between the last milestone and this one I have been doing some research on characters. The point in this challenge for me, is not to learn as many characters as possible, but rather to learn characters smarter. One way that I am doing that is by learning to better categorize the characters themselves. I read Ollie's two part series on Phonetic compounds. Which then lead me to read the wikipedia article describing all the different ways a character can be made. Using this information as a guide, I am attempting to guess the category of each new character I learn as a part of my routine. For example, when they fall into that 80% I take apart the character and identify the sound part and the meaning part. I don't have any evidence, but I feel like this is helping me learn the characters better, and quicker. 

As for Anki, I am still doing my best to use it every day, but I have tuned down the new words from 20 a day to 5 a day. Over the last 30 days I used it 23 days. I'm hoping to get that up to a higher number this month.

Until next time wish me luck!


Helping Google Pinyin, Windows 7, and Dvorak play nice together

In March I posted about getting Google's Pinyin IME to use the Dvorak keyboard layout as it's default instead of the standard Qwerty. I made that post in part because I had to figure that problem out on my own and didn't want others to have to go through it, and in part so I could find my hack again if I ever needed it. Funnily enough I ended up needing it again less than a month later for another install I did.

Anyhow, I decided to install Google's Pinyin IME onto my Windows 7 computer, and I had the same issue of it wanting to use the standard Qwerty layout. I did some googling and found how someone fixed the issue for the standard Simplified Chinese Pinyin layout, and from that I was able to apply my own fix.

Below are my steps for installing it. With anything you find off the internet, your trying this AT YOUR OWN RISK. Don't blame me if something goes wrong. These steps work for me, and they should work for you, but I am not responsible for you, or your things, your a grown up, don't pout.

  1. Go to the Google page and download the installer.
  2. Install the program. I mostly hit the next button. I did check the box for collecting anonymous stats, and signed in with my Google account, but you can choose not to do those things.
  3. After it was installed, I opened a notepad and verified it worked, and was using the Qwerty layout instead of Dvorak.
  4. Next I opened regedit 
    1. Click the Start button.
    2. Click in the search box to start a new search. 
    3. Type "regedit" without the quotes.
    4. Above it an icon of a blue Rubik cube and the word Regedit will appear.
    5. Click on that.to open the regedit program.
    6. Click, yes when it asks if your sure you want to continue. 
  5. Inside of the regedit program I navigated to the appropriate place by clicking the + symbols next to each of the following words.
    1. Computer
    3. SYSTEM
    4. CurrentControlSet
    5. Control
    6. Keyboard Layouts ( There is also a Keyboard Layout directory. This is the wrong directory.)
    7. E0200804 ( Your layout may be in a differently named folder. The best way to tell is by looking at the right side. "Layout text" should say "谷歌拼音输入法 2" or "Google Pinyin" or something similar.)
  6. Once you have found the right spot Double click the "Layout File" words.
  7. In the popup box change the value from "KBDUS.DLL" to "KBDDV.DLL" Upper or lower case should not matter.
  8. Click OK.
  9. Close regedit.
  10. Log Out of windows( not hibernate, or suspend, or lock ).
  11. Log back in and try it out.
  12. Profit. ^_^

I hope this helps. I'm sure it will help me on my next re-install or update. Now for my obligatory inflammatory statement, which is a reminder that Dvorak is a better keyboard layout than Qwerty, not only for English but also for Pinyin. Even if you don't like Dvorak, at least look at what is out there. There are quite a few different layouts available and tailored for different purposes. It is surprising how fast someone can pick a new one up, and start benefiting from it.


Sensible Chinese Character Challenge 2014 Milestone 1!

Click here and check the bottom of the article to see where I first mentioned this Challenge. You can also go straight to the Hacking Chinese article if your interested.

So in the above mentioned article I showed the following milestones.

  1. April 8th: 157 new words
  2. April 30th: 314 new words
  3. May 31st: 471 new words
  4. June 30th: 628 new words
I am happy to report that I have learned 366 new terms already. This was kinda expected since right now I am moving at a faster pace. Sadly the last half of this month, and the first half of the next month I will be moving at a much slower pace. I still think my June goal is obtainable, but hitting that third milestone is going to take some dedication. 

That's pretty much all I had on the actual challenge, so... I guess I can tell ya how I am going about completing it. 

I am using a spaced repetition program called Anki. There are a ton of free decks available to study your topic of choice. For me I am going over the Integrated Chinese vocabulary. It should be this deck. With it I get 3 different cards for each new term. One with the English, one with the characters, and one with the pinyin. I am still debating with myself how useful the pinyin is. 

Right now, I have it set at 20 new cards a day, which boils down to a little under 7 new terms a day. Because Anki is smart and doesn't want to show you three cards in a row of the same term, they will hold back the second and third version. So what really happens is I get introduced to 20 new terms one day, and then on the next day I get to practice them some more from a different direction. Then on the last day I get to practice them one more time from another direction. For me, this seems to work well. I am averaging about six days a week.

 But wait, that's not all! Besides the spaced repetition I also take lessons over the related material. So I then get to use these new words in a correct dialogue, make up sentences, and do homework over them. I do the speaking stuff about 4 times a week, one hour each time with my Chinese teacher. We communicate through italki.

Another trick I have been using is every day or two while I am going over these words I use my finger to write them on the table as an added way of memorizing them. 

I guess that's enough for now. Wish me luck on the next parts of the Challenge!