Archive for April, 2006

Native language?

Saturday, April 29th, 2006

“Jeg forstår ikke hvordan sådan en lille dreng kan forstå sådan et fremmed sprog” (English translation: “I don’t understand how such a small boy can speak such a foreign language”). This was what I just heard a small 8-9 year old boy say after he heard a woman speak Spanish to her child, a child that I estimate was 2 maybe 3 years old, but the child also spoke Danish.

Kids are great, and it is indeed very difficult to understand how it is possible for a three year old boy to understand both Danish and Spanish.

Children are such fast learners, it is estimated that it takes something like 7 years to learn how to speak a language, and if you acquire a language during adulthood it is very difficult to learn how to speak it like a native.

So does this child master two languages equally well? The teacher of the course I attended this Monday, claimed that you always have a native, or preferred, language. I tend to agree with her, but that being said, it is indeed possible to have perfect grasp of several languages, this is rather rare in Denmark, but quite common in countries that recognise several languages as native, like Canada, Belgium and Luxembourg.

The earlier a child is introduced to several languages, the better the child will master it, at least in pronunciation, but it is very difficult to maintain a working language without being in a culture that speaks it all the time. It’s a fact that many children of first and second generation immigrants living in Denmark, have great difficulty mastering both Danish and the language of their parents, since they’re not using the latter very frequently, and the parents aren’t able to pass a “functional”, e.g. reading and writing skills, Danish language on to their children.

One way to improve reading and writing skills is to use a method that I was introduced to while attending the aforementioned course. The method is called LTG (Læsning på Talens Grundlag – Reading on the Foundation of Speech”, the idea is that you use the strength of the spoken language that the children have, to strengthen the “functional” reading and writing skills.

The method can be labelled as: A short break, where you also manage to produce a reading text..

The student tells about an event or something that occupies him/her

* the text is told spontaneous, and you should avoid completely to correct the storyteller. The content can be anything: an experience, a nice day, “someting that made me feel sad”, a picnic the possibilities are many.
* you (the tutor) capture the story in writing, completely the way it’s told, but with correct spelling.
* the story is produced with a focus on building sentences
* the “selfproduced story” is now ready to be used to train reading skills.

The strong side, the spoken language is used, and the reading of the story is made easier, because the student is aware of what it means – we’re utilising the “known” to train the “difficult”.

It’s my intention to try to use this method in the tutoring of children.

DCCWikipedia Authentication – DCCwiki

Friday, April 28th, 2006

DCCWikipedia Authentication – DCCwiki

This looks like a useful solution for shared (single) sign-on between Drupal and MediaWiki, I picked it up from this thread in the drupal.org support forum. It comes with a number of warnings, but it sounds like people has tried it with great success.

I have to try it, or at least investigate how it’s build, since having both Drupal and MediaWiki installed is becoming a very common configuration for me.

OIO – Nationalt videnscenter for software

Friday, April 28th, 2006

OIO – Offentlig Information Online – Nationalt videnscenter for software

OIO har netop lanceret et mikro-site for det Nationale videnscenter for software, som regeringen besluttede at etablere i 2003. Der er bla. fokus på at udbrede brugen af, og ikke mindst kendskabet til, Open Source software.

Her er en kopi af “mission statement”:

Regeringen lancerede i 2003 sin softwarestrategi. Strategien fastslår, at det overordnede princip for indkøb og brug af it i forvaltningen er, at de lokale myndigheder skal erhverve den bedste og billigste software ud fra lokale forvaltningsmæssige behov – uanset om der er tale om leverandørejet eller open source-software. I forbindelse hermed er gennemført en række aktiviteter, blandt andet en omfattende analyse af omkostninger og værdi ved brugen af kontorpakkesoftware.

Det er da positivt at regeringen har en software strategi, men det er ret svært at gennemskue hvad den rent faktisk er.

Det mest positive er at man i stigende grad anerkender de åbne formater, og at der er udarbejdet nogle beslutnings værktøjer til at hjælpe med valget af kontorsoftware.

Læs også:
Pilotforsøg med forskellige typer software (fra OIO)
Open source software – i den digitale forvaltning (fra Teknologirådet)
Beslutningsstøtte i forbindelse med valg af kontorpakke (fra OIO)

Lektieplaneten | Sjov fritid?

Thursday, April 27th, 2006

Lektieplaneten | Sjov fritid

Nu har jeg haft dette domæne i noget der ligner 4-5 år, og det har indtil videre kun været brugt til eksperimenter.

Efter jeg har opdaget Drupal, og lært det “basale”, har jeg besluttet i det mindste at have et fungerende website kørende på domænet.

Fra det første indlæg på siden:

Her prøver vi på at gøre din fritid lidt sjovere.

Formålet er at skabe et fællesskab, det der på nudansk kaldes et “community”, for børn og unge.

Hvis man registrerer sig kan man deltage i debatten i forum, eller skrive egne indlæg i sin personlige dagbog, det der også kaldes en blog eller weblog.

“If you build it, they will come” – eller øh? Endnu en “fordi jeg kan” service.

Computerworld – It-fagforening giver gratis Wi-Fi i København

Thursday, April 27th, 2006

Computerworld – It-fagforening giver gratis Wi-Fi i København

Forforeningen PROSA har tænkt sig at tilbyde gratis Wi-Fi (trådløs Internet adgang) i København, i første omgang i området ved H.C. Ørstedsparken, som er placeret tæt på PROSAs hovedkontor.

Universel Wi-Fi eller net-adgang er en fremragende idé, og jeg mener at en moderne by bør tilbyde net adgang på linie med vand, renovation og kloakering.

Men jeg vil stille et stort spørgsmåltegn ved det smarte i at det er en fagforening der udbyder den slags service, i hvertfald i større stil.

Jeg antager at PROSA gør dette for at sætte den slags services på dagsordenen, ikke fordi de har tænkt sig at blive Internet service udbyder, og det forehavende ønsker jeg dem al mulig held og lykke med.

Der er lang vej til mere visionære initiativer, som f.eks. Wireless Philadelphia i den amerikanske by Philadelphia. Her er en væsentlig del af visionen også at skaffe billig Internet adgang til fattige bydele. Jeg syntes ikke der er ret meget vision over denne udtalelse fra PROSAs formand Peter Ussing, selv om jeg da godt kan se fornuften:

Der er masser af fornuft i, at alle vores turister og os, som er på farten, kan få adgang til nettet let og billigt. Det har alle brug for…

Tanken er at det skal koste et symbolsk beløb at tilmelde sig tjenesten, 5.kr., efter signende mest for at undgå misbrug, men man kan jo have PROSA mistænkt for at det er en måde at få fat i potientielle “kunder” på.

The Infinite Cat Project – Cats watching felines watching moggies. It’s a concept!

Wednesday, April 26th, 2006

The Infinite Cat Project – Cats watching felines watching moggies. It’s a concept!

This is one of those funny sites that people with too much time on their hands come up with. And just gotta love their logo.

You take a picture of a cat and post it, then somebody takes a picture of a cat watching the picture on a computer screen etc. ad infinitum. LOL.

Here’s their “mission statement”:

In Case You’re Curious…

It all began innocently enough when a user on an Apple usr forum posted a picture of his cat, Frankie, contemplating the beauty of a flower. Shortly afterwards another user posted a picture of his cat bristling at the image of Frankie on the monitor. I decided this was too much fun and advanced the concept as The Infinite Cat Project which is, simply, cats regarding cats regarding cats in an electronic milieu. If you like this web site then thank your lucky stars that the world is populated with cats, Macs, and people with wayyyy too much time on their hands.

The also put together a video – Cat Zoom Movie.

Another link I got from a thread on Macnyt.dk: Kattenavn?.

:: macnyt :: danmark :: Tip: OpenOffice Dansk Stavekontrol

Wednesday, April 26th, 2006

:: macnyt :: danmark ::

Her er et super tip til at få Dansk stavekontrol til at fungere i OpenOffice.Org, hvis man har problemer.

Der er også et link til en beskrivelse af hvordan man får tilføjet skrifttyper gennem SPAdmin værktøjet, slår helt bestemt den manuelle metode jeg har beskrevet i et tidligere indlæg.

Tak til Macnyt brugeren Umbrakul.

Computerworld – Google klar med danske vejkort

Tuesday, April 25th, 2006

Computerworld – Google klar med danske vejkort

Google Maps has added Danish roadmaps, this is great news.

Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to work with the API yet.

But this is what we’ve been waiting for. Now let’s go build something!

UPDATE 26-Apr-2006@16:48!

Danish roadmaps actually works fine with the API, you just have to update your code to version 2. Here’s my first Google Maps 2.0 test.

Surf’s up at the Damhus lake: Wi-Fi everywhere

Tuesday, April 25th, 2006

While biking home from Copenhagen city tonight, I made a short pit-stop, mostly to enjoy the scenery by the Damhus lake, but also to recharge my iPod shuffle, that possibility existed because my PowerBook was fully charged. I flipped the screen open, logged on to Mac OS X: lo- and behold, much to my surprise, an open Wi-Fi network announced itself. Surf’s up in the normally quiet Damhus lake. The open network is called rulykke and it can be accessed from the path that trails the south eastern shore of the Damhus lake.

Experiences like this really makes me consider removing the encryption from my network, it’s a nice way to protest against the monopoly like status of the TelCos. Network access wants to be free. Tak rulykke network – du er bare alletiders!!!

Format Wars: OpenXML Developer

Monday, April 24th, 2006

OpenXML Developer

OpenXML Developer is a web-site dedicated to developers of OpenXML applications. The OpenXML format is Microsoft’s proposed open document format standard. OpenXML will become the default file-format for the next version of Microsoft Office, Office 12 or Office 2007.

OpenXML, or “Office 2003 reference schemas” is often seen as a strategic move by Microsoft to try to take attention away from another proposed document standard, the OpenDocument Format (ODF), that is backed by the ODFAlliance.

Like I’ve mentioned before, I really fail to see the need for more than one standard, and I really hope that Microsoft decide to support OpenDocument. For now Microsoft has said that they will leave implementation of ODF to 3rd parties.

One thing I find interesting is that OpenOffice.Org, most likely will have support for OpenXML, as well as ODF…Just another reason to switch.

Looking at the content of the OpenXML Developer site, I can see that sections dedicated to Linux and Mac OS developers has been added, but the samples that are present right now is limited to Java and .NET, and it looks like Microsoft will be adding special APIs to .NET that aims to simplify creation of binary content, e.g. attachments, and the source code for this will (I’m willing to take a wager), most likely, be closed.

Where OpenOffice.Org shines, is that it’s implementation of ODF is Open Source, and having an open reference implementation makes it relatively simple to write ODF applications that will remain compatible.

Microsoft is claiming that OpenXML will ensure backwards compatibility with the old DOC format(s), this sounds quite strange, Microsoft could have decided to build on ODF, and then make their own extensions.

So what is Microsoft’s motives. I believe that they have several:

  • Keep undocumented binary information in the documents that only Office 2007 will support.
  • New lock-in strategy, OpenXML will replace DOC as the default format, history shows that the users that have upgraded quite quickly will start sending documents in the new format, forcing the reciepients to upgrade.

It will be interesting to see that happens in the format wars. A good resource, somewhat biased towards ODF though, is the excellent Groklaw site.

For now ODF has a huge lead over OpenXML. Office 2007 has been delayed, and by the time it ships, it’s likely that ODF has been ratified by ISO. OpenXML is using the ECMA organisation to gain a fast track to ISO, and Microsoft has recently joined the ISO subcommittee that works with the ratification of document formats. It is estimated that OpenXML is at least 18 months behind ODF in the ratification process. According to C|NET News.com, the ODFAlliance is optimistic that ODF can be certified as early as next month.

Personally I don’t think that Microsoft should be allowed to change the default format in Office, and remain a supplier of software to the Danish public sector.