Daily Archives: August 10, 2009

Repeat “A-E-I-O-U” to Read Faster [Back To School]

School work involves a fair amount of tedious reading, which is why knowing how to get through and comprehend text quickly is a useful skill to have. Looking to learn? Try incorporating the A-E-I-O-U method.

In the above video demo (warning: 15 second ad) posted on instructional web site 5min, speed reading guide Chris offers his advice on how to plow through your words. According to Chris, you can do so by choosing a passage and voicing “A-E-I-O-U” or “one, two, three, four” as you read the text. He goes on to say that the average person reads between 125-250 words per minute because they’re still reading with their larynx (even if not out loud). To read above this level, you need to read just with your eyes, not your larynx. Chris suggests that repeating the above phrase will help train you to stop voicing the word using your larynx, which will apparently help you to better visualize the text in its entirety and thus get through your required (or other reading) faster.

We’re not promising you’ll get through ten books a day, but the idea makes sense and certainly seems like it could speed up your reading a bit. Looking for an alternative way to get through Geology 101? Check out a few more previously mentioned speed-reading techniques.

How to Speed Read [Boing Boing]

uTorrent 2.0 Beta Brings Fixes and Improvements, Adds UDP Support [Downloads]

Windows only: uTorrent, the most popular BitTorrent client on the planet, has released a new 2.0 beta complete with bug fixes and new features, including UDP tracker support.

UD-wha? As all-things-BitTorrent weblog TorrentFreak explains, UDP trackers are much less resource intensive than HTTP trackers, and most torrent sites out there support UDP—meaning that if uTorrent, the most popular torrent client, were to support it, that's great news for all the torrent trackers out there. On the surface that might not seem like the most exciting news, but it will likely mean browsing your favorite torrent site in a browser could be significantly speedier now that your BitTorrent client isn't slowing down the tracker with all those HTTP requests. Hit up the uTorrent forum for a list of all the changes and fixes in the beta if you’re ready to try it out.

uTorrent 2.0 Beta is freeware, Windows only.

uTorrent 2.0 Beta [uTorrent Forum via TorrentFreak]

Learn When It’s Okay to Skip Class [Back To School]

Living away from home while attending college gives students a lot of new-found freedom—often resulting in a classic case of classes skipped and GPAs destroyed. Follow these few rules for skipping classes that won't hurt your grade.

Photo by Christina Snyder.

Ed. note: We highly value a good education, but we also believe that sometimes learning outside the classroom can be as important as the learning you do in the classroom. So while we may have hardly skipped a class in college, we also think it's important to acknowledge that skipping the occasional class isn't the end of the world—provided you're smart about it. Our friends from HackCollege offer their expertise on the subject.

Know Your Syllabus

The syllabus is the contract between you and your professor. It holds everything you need to know about the class, from test dates to office hours, and it often will include your teacher’s attendance policy. The classic college attendance policy is one in which professors couldn’t care less if you come or not (they’re your grades at risk, after all). Some professors want to reward students that do come to class everyday, so they incorporate the attendance into the grade. Know whether or not this is the case for your professor.

Know Your Professor

While it is important to know your syllabus, it’s probably more important to know how your professor treats missing class. Does he or she talk to people after they have missed a class or two? If your grades are online, is there an attendance portion? If there is, how specific is it? All of these clues can help you decide to begin with whether it’s all right to miss class or not.

What are you skipping for?

Deciding whether or not you should skip a class is a function of how important the event you’re going to is and how much skipping will hurt your grade. If you are doing poorly in a class that you need to take notes to do well in, then obviously you shouldn’t skip.

If you just want to catch a little more shut-eye, again, you probably shouldn’t skip. (Unless you’re so run down that you actually need that extra sleep for health reasons, in which case you may need to dedicate a little more time to your health and well-being.)

Before you skip class for just any old event, you should ask yourself: Is this a once in a lifetime? 12:00am movie premiers generally do not count as once-in-a-lifetime events, no matter how you slice it.

In a nutshell, though, if the class you’re skipping is going to affect your grade, then don’t skip.

The school-bound productivity nuts at weblog HackCollege will be joining us all week to offer their perspective on making the most of your Back to School regimen.

eXtreme Power Suppply Calculator Helps Accurately Select a PSU [Hardware]

If you checked out the PSU calculator we shared with you and wished it had a more detailed selection process for really granular and precise control, you’ll definitely want to check out the eXtreme Power Supply Calculator.

The calculator in the link above is great for a quick estimate, but what if you want to be able to run a more detailed calculation before purchasing your new PSU? The eXtreme PSU calculator pulls from a very detailed database of parts to give you a more accurate estimate. During our testing we were able to select the exact CPU and graphics card, for example, that our test system was running.

There are dozens of variables you can set within the Lite version of the calculator, for even more options there is a $1.99 premium version of the calculator with even more settings for your calculating pleasure. Thanks Erik!

Why This Detail Was Abandoned

In early Gustav Stickley pieces, doors with divided lights were joined with mitered
mullions. It’s an intriguing look, but was used only for a few years. My next project
for the magazine has a divided door, and even though I haven’t been able to find an
original example of the piece I’m building with mitered joints, I decided to build
mine with that detail. I like the way it looks, so I took the challenge of figuring
out how it goes together, and how to make the parts.

There is a lot going on in a small space. The interior parts are only 1-1/4″ wide
and there is a rabbet on the back for the glass and glass stops. The openings are
small, but the joints need to be strong to support the weight of the assembled door
and the glass. Merely mitering the pieces and depending on glue didn’t seem practical;
the parts would slide around during assembly, and the photos I’ve seen of original
pieces indicate that the central mullion is continuous from top to bottom. I decided
on mortises and tenons on the outer joints, and half-lap joints in the middle.

It goes together quite nicely in SketchUp,
but I decided to get some practice in before building the cabinet. I enjoy the rhythm
of building, and I can’t get that going if there is a part of the process on the horizon
that I haven’t figured out. In this case I was concerned about the joints in the middle
of the door, where four mitered corners all come together. I figured out a really
clever router jig that would cut the openings except for the rounded corner in the
center, which I would need to remove with a chisel. I’m better at chiseling than sawing
so it seemed like a good approach.

One of the reasons that I’m good at chiseling is that I’m not so good at sawing. I
don’t get enough practice to be able to walk into the shop, pick up a saw and cut
a perfect joint. I need to warm up with some practice cuts first. Because of this,
my inclination is to think of the saw last. I should have thought of it first because
my router jig didn’t quite work. I could have made it work, but that would have involved
several hours of fiddling with it to overcome the small variations between the bit
and bearing and the size of the parts. The jig wasn’t a total failure; it came close
but left either a small flat between the points, or a small opening. I was aiming
for something finer.

So I spent a couple hours working out with the saw instead of refining the jig. I
added to the fence to keep it a little farther away from the corner, and it works
nicely to remove the waste and leave a flat surface, after the saw cuts are
made. To really make this joint look good, I need an X exactly on the center of the
board. The kerf of the saw needs to fall on opposite sides of the line on each side
to leave a nice point in the middle.

I almost have it. I took a few extra steps to locate my cuts and get the saw started,
and with a few more practice joints I’ll have it. As for the router jig, maybe I’ll
submit it under an assumed name as a trick to some other magazine.

— Robert W. Lang

Google Chrome Updates, Adds Windows 7 Jumplists [Google Chrome]

Windows only: The developer channel builds of the Google Chrome web browser have finally added support for Jumplists for readers running Windows 7—meaning nearly instant access to private browsing mode.

To access the new feature, you can simply right-click the taskbar button, and you’ll be able to open a new window, get to recently accessed pages, or open a private browsing window immediately from the menu. You’ll need to download the Chrome Channel Chooser and switch to the dev channel to get the new feature—make sure to restart your browser to make the new menu items show up.

See how I used Firebug to learn jQuery

When I hear that someone’s having trouble learning JavaScript or jQuery, my first suggestion to them is always the same: install Firebug and experiment at the console. Whether you’re an experienced JavaScript developer or haven’t written a single line of client-side code, the interactive nature of a command-line is one of the fastest ways to learn.

To demonstrate just how effective Firebug’s console can be, Craig Shoemaker and I recorded a short screencast on the topic. If you’re not taking advantage of this technique, be sure to take a minute (well, 16) and check it out:


Question: Would you like to see more screencasts similar to this one?


Originally posted at Encosia. If you’re reading this elsewhere, come on over and see the original.

See how I used Firebug to learn jQuery

Bank Lets Customers Deposit Checks by Taking Pics with an iPhone [Downloads]

iPhone only: As irrelevant as online banking and ATMs makes the physical bank for a lot of your banking needs, most of us still need to head to our local bank whenever it’s time to cash a check. The New York Times reports that a bank called USAA doesn’t think that should be necessary, and is introducing a new feature to their iPhone application sometime this week that will allow customers to deposit checks by simply snapping a picture of both sides of the check.

After that, you just submit the photos and void the check in your hand. The deposit to your account is instant. Talk about a dream come true. The only reason this editor ever ends up in a bank is to deposit the occasional check; if this sort of functionality were to spread to more banks, it could save all kinds of time for folks.

LockHunter Deletes Stubborn Files and Applications [Downloads]

Windows: Everyone has run into the problem at some point. You want to move or delete a file and Windows flat-out denies you because the file is supposedly in use. Break your file free with…

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