Category Archives: Other articles

Religious pieces, thoughts on journalism, a few bits and pieces of philosophy–this is the grab bag of the “Articles” section. Scrounge around until you find something you like.

Why German is an Excellent Language to Study

I wrote this on Suite101.com. (Link)

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A Critique of Fluenz French

(Link) I wrote this article on Suite101.com.

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How to Play Ultimate in the Wind

Click here to read the article.

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The Voice (Wikipedia Page)

“The Voice” is a [[Biblical translation]] project established “to rediscover the story of the Bible.”

<ref name=”Book”>[New Testament, The Voice Edition (Website: http://hearthevoice.com/books/profile/27722)%5D</ref> It employs writers with artistic, theological and musical backgrounds in order to differentiate its work from scholar-centered translations.

<ref name=”Book”/> The Voice’s first publication was a [[New Testament]] translation, which came out in [[October]] [[2008]]. <ref name=”Site”>[http://www.hearthevoice.com The Voice’s Website]</ref>

== Composition ==

“The Voice” encompasses a range of writers, editors, scholars and musicians. <ref name=”Book”/> The writers and scholars collaborate to produce [[Biblical]] texts with academic and artistic merit, while the 27 musicians involved work on “Songs From The Voice,” a musical compilation. Seven editors oversee the writing process.

The project is overseen by the [[Ecclesia Bible Society]], which is presided over by [[Chris Shea.]]

== Biblical Translation ==

The Voice markets its [[Old Testament]] (still in production) and New Testament editions as alternatives to scholar-led translations. Its overall goal is to produce “holistic,” “beautiful,” “sensitive” and “balanced” <ref name=”Book”/> transcriptions that present-day readers can identify with.

The project’s first production, a translation of the New Testament, pairs a play-like format and contemporary verse with occasional commentary and in-text explanations. A brief introduction precludes each book.

== Current and future publications ==

In addition to their complete New Testament translation, the project has produced a number of titles dealing with the Bible <ref name=”Site”/>:

[[The Voice of Acts]]

[[The Voice of John]] (offered as a free download on their website)

[[The Voice from on High]]

[[The Voice of Luke]]

[[The Voice of Hebrews]]

[[The Voice of Mark]]

[[The Voice of Matthew]]

[[The Voice of Romans]]

A translation of the Old Testament is currently underway.

== External Links:==

http://www.hearthevoice.com/pdf/TheVoice_Comparison.pdf (a comparison of contemporary [[Bible]] translations, including The Voice)

http://www.hearthevoice.com (The project’s website)

== References ==

<references/>

Here’s a Wikipedia page I worked on of The Voice’s New Testament edition:

The Voice: New Testament is a [[New Testament]] Bible translation written by [[The Voice (Project)]], a scriptural research group. It was published by [[Thomas Nelson]] in [[October]] [[2008]].

== Nature of the translation ==
The Voice markets its [[New Testament]], a rewritten edition which incorporates writers, musicians and [[pastors]] (including the [[Emerging Church]] proponent [[Brian McLaren]] <ref name=”Book”/>,) as an alternative to scholar-focused [[Bible translations]]. The group’s goal in the project was to produce a “holistic,” “beautiful,” “sensitive” and “balanced” <ref name=”Book”>New Testament, The Voice Edition (Website: http://hearthevoice.com/books/profile/27722)</ref> New Testament that present-day readers could identify with.

The compilation pairs a play-like format and [[contemporary]] verse with occasional commentary and italicized in-text explanations. Each book in the New Testament is preceded by a brief introduction explaining its background and significance.

== Criticism ==
Chris Rosebrough of the website Extreme Theology has taken issue with The Voice’s interpretation and extensions of the Bible’s original text. In Part One of his book review, Rosebrough writes:

“Unfortunately, not since the release of the [[Jehovah’s Witnesses]]’ [[New World Translation]] of the Greek Scriptures in [[1950]] has there been a bible published that so blatantly mangles and distorts God’s Word in order to support a peculiar and aberrant theological agenda.” <Ref Name=”Review”>Chris Rosebrough’s review (site: http://www.extremetheology.com/2008/11/review-of-the-voice-new-testament—part-one.html)</ref>

Rosebrough then goes on to contrast the New Voice translation with the [[English Standard Version]] and the original [[Greek]] text, pointing out areas in the book that he sees as misleading or contrary to the passage’s original meaning.

== References ==
<references/>

== External Links ==
http://www.hearthevoice.com/pdf/TheVoice_Comparison.pdf (A comparison of contemporary [[Bible]] translations, including The Voice)

http://www.hearthevoice.com (The project’s website)

http://hearthevoice.com/books/profile/27722 (Official book website)

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A quick guide to quick typing

A quick guide to quick typing

9/20/08

Kenneth Burchfiel

 

Throughout our lives, we receive plenty of education on what to type. It is the question of how to type that does not get enough attention.

One could make the argument that how fast one writes does not make much of a difference. After all, if it takes someone an hour just to write a thousand-word paper (an average rate of fourteen to fifteen words a minute), their actual typing ability does not factor into the equation—seeing as they could easily match that typing rate with a pencil.

This argument, however, makes the pretense that typists go at the same rate for hours on end; in truth, writing is better modeled as a series of pauses punctuated by moments of intense—sometimes furious—typing. It’s those moments of fury that require one to be proficient in typing, lest a great thought or a chain of ideas for a paragraph slip away.

 

I invite anyone reading this to look at the keys below their fingers—should they be near a computer. If the top row of keys reads “QWERTYUIOP,” they’ve got a problem they might not even know about.

The QWERTY layout was developed more than a century ago for typewriter models. With all due respect to the inventor, Christopher Sholes’ layout has since become outdated. It puts some of the most-used keys—E, R, T, I and O—on the top row, meaning the hand must travel an uncomfortable distance to type even the most basic words. Simultaneously, it puts rarely-used letters like “K” and “J” on the middle row where they do not belong. QWERTY keyboard users use the top row, which requires hand travel, much more than they do the “home” or middle row.

At first, this may seem like an unimportant issue. But the more one must move their fingers up and down to type, the more strain they put on the fingers—and the less potential they have when it comes to speed typing.

With all this in mind, I recommend that anyone serious about typing quickly change the layout of their keyboard. (This is the point at which most will stop reading.) Going from QWERTY to a more ergonomic layout, in fact, is easier done than said. Windows and Apple computers both feature alternate layout compatibility, and rearranging the keys is as simple as popping the letters out with a knife and moving them around.

For about three years, I’ve used the “Dvorak” keyboard layout. Switching was as simple as taking a utensil and manually rearranging the keys, then going to the Windows control panel and changing the key layout. Since then, I’ve never looked back. At school, I can use online converters to type quickly; at home, with my keyboard configured for Dvorak typing, I can reach speeds of 100 WPM in regular typing—and 120 or above in typing tests. Best of all, I’ve rarely felt hand or wrist pain from typing at extended lengths.

Dvorak is the leading rival to QWERTY, but users looking to break the mold even further can try out the COLEMAK layout. This one is technically superior to Dvorak, but the achievement gap between the two is miniscule compared to the gap between QWERTY and either.

 

But neither the COLEMAK or Dvorak layout will make a hint of difference unless one learns to “touch type,” or memorize the key layout so that one need not look at the board while typing. With all due respect to the mathematicians of this world, I consider my ability in this field much more important than my skills in trigonometry or calculus.

There are more typing programs than there are sushi bars in Tokyo, but all of them are, more or less, the same: by starting with the most frequently used keys and extending outward, they teach users—letter by letter—to memorize the board. Some programs have elaborate tracking systems, incorporated games and voice narrators. Others, like the 1995 HTML program I used to learn Dvorak, are East German in their appearance but do just as fine a job.

The specific program one chooses, in the end, does not make a difference. What matters is that they use that program to its fullest potential and emerge with the ability to type while looking at the screen.

 

These two measures get one 85 percent of the way to their full typing potential. This final step can be eschewed if one is satisfied with their current keyboard, but important nonetheless.

Most keyboards—and most cars—perform more or less the same at slow speeds. The plastic keyboard that came from your computer and the steel-frame, mechanical-switch, ergonomic-everything product you can buy online will each feel about the same at 30 or 40 words a minute. But for typists capable of hitting 80 WPM or above, the specific keyboard one users begins to make a difference in their final score.

Keyboard styles can be separated by two main categories: keyswitch technology and physical key arrangement. By far, the majority of keyboards use rubber domes to pop depressed keys back up and feature three straight rows of letters. This setup works fine for infrequent typists with a WPM score in the 30-60 range.

A plethora of keyswitch alternatives exist on the market. Take “Buckling Spring” boards, for example. These keyboards use actual springs to recoil keys to their original position. Because springs do their job much quicker than standard rubber domes, the keyboard is more responsive and less susceptible to “mushy” typing, in which one’s fingers sink into the keys and have trouble getting back up. Mechanical boards register strokes using actual switches, not just the wire membrane technology found in most buckling spring and regular keyboards.

Both of these technologies result in faster typing for two reasons: the keys are more responsive to finger input, and the “click” sound resulting from springs and switches helps the typist recognize when they’ve depressed a key. These are just two popular alternatives out of dozens.

My personal keyboard is standard in terms of letter arrangement; like most devices, it has the letters and numbers in four parallel rows. For typists interested in a more ergonomic (and faster, perhaps) experience, there are a number of keyboards available with a V-shaped layout; the letter rows, split in the middle and curved inward, better match the natural hand position of typists. This theme has plenty of variations (search for “vertical keyboard” for an especially wild one), but all serve to make the typing experience more intuitive and easier on the fingers.

 

This guide is but an introduction to the world of speed typing, but it covers most of the steps interested typists should take to write faster. As for writing better… well, that’s a separate matter.

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In search of the fleeting pingy sound

9/9/2008

Kenneth Burchfiel

 

Imagine, if you can, a distant age when the internet was a foreign phrase. When today’s billionaires were yesterday’s garage programmers and software hackers. When the dawn of the computing age was yet to shine on the horizons of technology.

An age when keyboards made a pingy sound.

 

We have progressed so far in the realm of computer technology that to look back is to see but a blur of gadgets, interfaces and networks atop which we build at a dizzying rate. Compared to today’s byte-sized wonders and world-linking devices, the earlier years of the internet age seem relatively droll in comparison. Who would want to bring back green-text monitors and floppy disks?

And yet, for the lowly keyboard, the late eighties were an age of glory. An era where no gadget could quite replace its monumental task. Mice, monitors and motherboards have since evolved, but as far as traditionalists are concerned, the days before the World Wide Web were the peak of the typing experience. Since then, the keyboard has only gone backwards.

I grew up a stranger to that nostalgic era—or, at the least, blind to it. I figured that all keyboards, black or white, short or fat, were made equal.

From a cosmetics standpoint, I was correct. But keyboards have never been about outside appearances—at least, not before companies started placing their emphasis on pretty curves and a button for every pixel on the monitor. The soul of a board lies deep inside the casing, hidden from the mainstream eye.

Today’s standard QWERTY device has a different heart than the legends that preceded it. Do you hear that muffled “dun dun” sound when you press a letter? That’s the hallmark sound of a “rubber dome” key connector, available in China by the truckloads. Dome keyboards are quite cheap to manufacture, a selling point that—combined with their office-friendly noise level—has made the technology popular in just about every environment.

Yet these modern input devices, ergonomic and flashy they might be, have no appreciation of the glory days of typing. They lack that inner soul that defined 80’s computing:

The pingy sound.

Back in the seventies and eighties, programmers and other heavy typists demanded the very best in key press technology. The computer builders’ solution? “Buckling Spring” technology, a keyboard style in which depressing a letter causes a spring under it to bend and touch a connector. Letters arrive on the screen in metallic fanfare.

These springs were what produced the pingy noise I refer to. But it wasn’t just the commanding sound that set these boards apart. It was their enhanced typing speed; the springs’ responsiveness resulted in faster typing than rubber dome alternatives. It was their stunning durability. IBM’s Model M, the quintessential keyboard of this era, remains in use—and in demand—after twenty years of active service.

Alas, the soul era of input devices ended before I was even born. The pingy sounds of yesteryear all but died out, rejected by a world it could no longer understand. Imagine the shame these monuments of engineering must have felt as their owners threw them into dumpsters or left them for dead at yard sales.

There is yet hope in these dark times, mind you. A few old-style producers have survived—no, prospered—in this indifferent age. “Clicky Keyboards” and Unicomp are but two examples.

Perhaps it is but a niche market these companies cater to. That is understandable. But if there is anything that makes me optimistic about the future of the valiant buckling spring, it is that wherever such a keyboard is brandished, its keystrokes announce its presence to everyone in the vicinity. Its bulky shape commands attention from co-workers and roommates. Its legacy, preserved so well in the steel-and-plastic shell, echoes down the hall in staccato bursts.

Such is the destiny of all spring-designed versions today: to carry on the tale of the pingy sound and the decades that relished it. A keyboard could not ask for a nobler task.

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The Sentence Party

[Quite possibly the shortest article you will ever see on Schreiben Depot.]

The Sentence Party

9/8/08

Kenneth Burchfiel

 

The Sentence Party’s View:

The ideal government is strong enough to keep its citizens from restraining one another, limited enough to keep the government from restraining its citizens and simple enough that its whole philosophy can be expressed in one sentence.

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