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emk
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 Message 961 of 1317
04 March 2014 at 7:24pm | IP Logged 
I turned off subtitles on Neon Genesis Evangelion and Le Trône de fer yesterday evening. As mentioned above, these shows have harder-than-average audio, and twisty plots where I really can't afford to miss stuff. Here's how it went:

Neon Genesis Evangelion. After about 15 minutes, my comprehension got better, though I still had to rewind quite a few tricky bits. In the end, I only had to turn the subs back on a couple of times, and I got nearly everything.

Le Trône de fer. I can't rewind as much here, because I'm watching this with my wife. My comprehension is probably at least 80%, but that's not high enough to reliably follow all the little details. So I resorted to asking my wife when it seemed really important, and just let it go, otherwise. Honestly, it's easier to work with series where 80% is good enough, because then I can just watch a few seasons, miss some stuff, and get up to 95% without any particular effort.

For other series, like La legende de Korra, I get all but a few scattered lines with no particular effort. This just goes to show why it's important to try a variety of different native media: Some native media is much easier or harder than average, and it's hard to predict which is which unless I try a bunch of things.

Seen in an AJATT email: Infinite Looper. Loop all or part of a YouTube video.
2 persons have voted this message useful





emk
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 Message 962 of 1317
06 March 2014 at 9:18pm | IP Logged 
Trying IMX French

For the last day or so, I've been trying out Khatzumoto's newly-released IMX French service. Here's his explanation:

khatzumoto wrote:
When it comes to your behavior, distance is the enemy; effort is the enemy; jumping through hoops is the enemy. Any barrier between you and your L2 is the enemy. IMX/Immerciless is about removing those barriers; IMX/Immerciless is about inundating you with immersion. Getting you to the good stuff, keeping you immersed, giving you the best of what’s old and what’s new and what’s unique, and making sure it always works.

The fact is, you’re busy. And if the stuff doesn’t come to you, you’re not going to go it it. You just have too much going on in your life.

How it works

Every day, I get roughly a dozen emails, each of which contains two links:

Quote:
[name], you are very good-looking and have great taste in websites...

GTA 5 Let's Play Episode 37 Gameplay Commenté En Français - YouTube
http://is.gd/m9zr2L
#videogame #playthru #letsplay #LP #Let's #Play #Français

※{Click here to rate/flag this link→[link]}

########################################

Fiche Cuisine | bouletcorp
http://goo.gl/Fhshbb
#french #web #comic #online #bd #blog

※{Click here to rate/flag this link→[link]}

These emails arrive at random intervals, every couple of hours. It's clearly based on the idea that intermittent rewards are addictive. It's actually a very effective idea; I find myself checking my email for some more cool French links, which is presumably the whole point of this exercise.

On the other hand, the links are usually served up without any context. Khatzumoto advertises:

khatzumoto wrote:
We also include brief explanations and background matter so that you know what’s going on with each online resource. You’re not just being thrown to the wolves. No, you’re being thrown to the puppies with a bone, a toy and a good idea how to handle them, play with them, enjoy them and learn their barking and ways…I promise that metaphor would make sense if you were on the medication I’m on ;)

…but this is only very occasionally true. For example, they do explain the Izneo links:

Quote:
BD numérique - Fantastique / Esotérisme izneo.com
http://goo.gl/VoKqOS
#french #digital #comics #bd #online #izneo #cheap
"izneo.com is a site for French readers. From 1.99 euros you can read hundreds of comics online.
Apparently it's a joint project by some of the leading Franco-Belgian comic publishers to combat piracy. They put HQ scans of their comics online in Flash format; you're entitled to read the first five pages of each book for free and then pay in order to read the whole story, using your credit card or via Paypal."
[Read French comics online - Tintinologist.org Forums]
http://is.gd/CdrNaU

These sorts of explanations are quite handy, but they're the exception, not the rule.

Note, however, that Khatzumoto's mail servers are misconfigured, and I get this charming warning from GMail fairly often:



Unfortunately, when this warning is visible on the web version of GMail, the links in the Android version of GMail are not clickable. This massively undermines the "ease of use" factor.

What's in the links

The links seem to fall into a number of categories:

1. Links to individual BDs (and categories) at Izneo.
2. Links to "Let's Play" videogame walkthroughs in French.
3. Links to individual bouletcorp comics.
4. Links to specific articles on a handful of blogs: one about books, one about cars, etc.
5. Links to captioned photos on a photo blog.
6. Links to individual interesting articles on random news sites.

In general, it seems like that database contains lots of links to relatively small number of French sites, and some of the links are dead, actually in English, or otherwise pointless. In particular, this bit of ad copy seems a bit overly optimistic:

khatzumoto wrote:
…But if all we did was harvest stuff, well, any machine can harvest. Any hoarder can hoard. And you’d be back at square one — starving in a grocery store, overwhelmed with choice but with no idea how to make use of it (let alone get to it). So IMX/Immerciless is not some nameless, faceless, formless, machine-generated, ad-pushing agglomeration of stuff; there are already plenty of places where you can get that. No, the magic of IMX/Immerciless is as much in the metric crapton of material we toss away (because it isn’t right for you) as much as it is in the accumulation of content. It is this manual, human-guided sorting and sifting, this discarding of what is not fun and not useful and not working — as well as the pinpointing of what is — that makes IMX/Immerciless special.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that 20% of the links have clearly not been reviewed by a human being anytime recently: too many links are dead or irrelevant.

The level of difficulty is all over the map: everything from easy photo captions, to very slangy comics, to turgid book reviews. This is presumably good for a broad audience, but it means that another big chunk of the links are useless for me, personally.

My reaction

1. I really like the idea. It's great getting random French links pushed to me every hour or two.
2. The quality of the links is fairly mediocre. So far, the best stuff is the Izneo links and the Let's Play links, but these seem to have been scraped off the sites using a script. Overall, if I'm willing to follow all the links, I'll get a few genuinely good links per day.
3. The pricing is premium: about $2.39 per day, or $357.70 per year.

My verdict: This has the potential to be a pretty nice product, but the current database of French links leaves a lot to be desired. For me personally, the quality of the links isn't high enough to justify the premium pricing.

How to build a better version of IMX French

In one sense, I'm not the target audience for IMX French: I already know my way around the French web, and I'm tolerably good at digging up interesting French links. In light of that, here's what I'd do to improve IMX French:

1. Take everything published on the following sites during the last year: VDM, Topito, Izneo.
2. Throw in the archives of a few dozen web comics, including À boire et à manger, and some humor sites like Dans ton chat.
3. Subscribe to a bunch of interesting French Twitter accounts.
4. Subscribe to the RSS feeds of a bunch of blogs like Girls and Geeks (occasionally NSFW) and podcasts like Les années lumière.
5. Run all links through a checker before mailing them out. Does the link contain mostly French text? If it's a YouTube video, is it still available?
6. Fix my mail delivery configuration so Google knows it's not spam.
7. Include more descriptions of why particular sites are interesting.

You'll notice that 90% of my recommended improvements involve the actual links in the French database. IMX may be a first-rate premium product in Japanese, or in other languages. But it could be a lot better in French—and it should be, given the premium price.

I'll give IMX French a few more days, and then post an updated version of this review in a new thread. But I suspect I won't stay subscribed for more than a week or two, unless Khatzumoto upgrades the database enough to justify the pricing.

Edited by emk on 06 March 2014 at 9:30pm

7 persons have voted this message useful



iguanamon
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 Message 963 of 1317
06 March 2014 at 11:47pm | IP Logged 
My first reaction would be, why not follow people who post similar links on Twitter, for free? I follow journalists, writers, poets, English learning logs, singers, bloggers, etc.- all of whom interest me and random stuff pops up all the time. I understand the concept of having the anticipation of what may pop up in your inbox next. Do you think you can't do just as well on Twitter for free and it would be worth it to pay for the ajatt randomness instead?

Edited by iguanamon on 07 March 2014 at 3:59am

2 persons have voted this message useful



Serpent
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 Message 964 of 1317
07 March 2014 at 2:16am | IP Logged 
Ah, but for German there's no such twitter. I tried and never found anything worth following.
My main issue is that I constantly forget to check my email, haha. If I could have this stuff delivered to my facebook or livejournal inbox, I'd sign up at once. And facebook has discontinued the email thing too...
How does it work technically? Do you basically allow AJATT to charge your card daily?

edit: and how many of the links lead to paid content? was izneo an exception or not? Of course it's way too early for making conclusions, but it would be great to hear about this later on as well.
Also, do you get your first installment immediately or not? Any idea how timezones come into play here? I wouldn't want to pay the same for a smaller amount of content on my first day.

Edited by Serpent on 07 March 2014 at 2:23am

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emk
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 Message 965 of 1317
07 March 2014 at 3:58am | IP Logged 
iguanamon wrote:
My first reaction would be, why not follow people who post similar links on Twitter, for free? I follow journalists, writers, poets, English learning logs, singers, bloggers, etc.- all of whom interest me and random stuff pops up all the time. I understand the concept of having the anticipation of what may pop up in your inbox next. Do you think you can't do just as well on Twitter for free and it would be worth it to pay for the ajatt randomness?

This is an excellent question. If you can find a wide variety of interesting Twitter accounts in your target language, subscribe to them all, and check Twitter a bit obsessively, I think you could easily produce a better content stream than IMX French. Like all of Khatzumoto's products, IMX is aimed at people who don't mind spending money to save time and effort (and as a entrepreneur, I understand perfectly).

With a better database, however, IMX could probably provide you with better content than Twitter. One (theoretical) advantage of IMX is that it can go very deep into the archives of a few excellent sites, and supply you with lots old content. This would work very well with a site like Topito, VDM or Girls and Geeks, where the average quality is high, and it's easy to stick around once you get started. In general, Twitter will only feed your new stuff.

A second advantage to IMX applies at the beginner level: You don't need to know where to look. Somebody else can find all the addictive and interesting sites for you.

But of course, both of these advantages are more theoretical than practical: They rely on the IMX "engine" have a good, well-curated database of links. And honestly, the IMX French database just isn't there yet. I mean, sure, finding out about Izneo is worth the price of several weeks of IMX if you didn't know about it already. But my mental database is already quite good, and my French is more than fluent enough that I can find tons of new stuff easily.

Serpent wrote:
How does it work technically? Do you basically allow AJATT to charge your card daily?

You can either allow IMX to charge your Paypal account daily, or you can pay for the whole year as a lump sum. For something like $1000, I think you can get a lifetime subscription to all available languages.

Serpent wrote:
edit: and how many of the links lead to paid content? was izneo an exception or not? Of course it's way too early for making conclusions, but it would be great to hear about this later on as well.

Izneo is the only link to paid content I've seen so far, and I think you get 5 free pages per BD in any case. But of course, Izneo is one of the single best online resources for French students: BDs are an excellent language learning tool, except for the price, and Izneo offers quite a few as a 10-day rental for 1.99€. So in this one case, I completely support IMX's links to paid content. Just check this one section of historical BDs. French students are lucky.

Serpent wrote:
Also, do you get your first installment immediately or not? Any idea how timezones come into play here? I wouldn't want to pay the same for a smaller amount of content on my first day.

There's actually a web page version of IMX that will serve you up extra links if you get tired of waiting for email, so if you feel like you got a bad deal, go grab yourself another 20. ;-)

A few more thoughts:

IMX French is one of those frustrating products that simultaneously cool and broken. If you don't get the cool part, I'm not sure I can explain, except buy building a much better version and saying, "Look here! See!" And I don't have time to do that. The broken part of IMX French is the way that it falls short of what it could be.

Before spending serious money on any IMX languages, get a day-by-day subscription for a few days, and then ask yourself two questions:

1. Is the link database for my language actually any good? For French, my answer is a tentative "Not really."
2. Am I willing to pay somebody ~$350 to deliver me a ton of links I could just go find myself? And will I actually go find those links several times a day?

For some people, (2) may be a no-brainer if the links are good enough. I can't visit a bookstore in Montreal without spending $100 on novels, BDs and DVDs. And if you look at the time I've spent learning French, a few hundred dollars is a rounding error. There's no way around the fact that reaching C1 is going to cost you at least half a working year of effort.

But as the saying goes, "Time ain't money when all you've got is time," and not everybody has $100 (or ~$350) to spare. So it's hard to review a premium priced product on an international forum, because the audience is so varied: There are language learners who are happy to spend $7000–9000 on Middlebury's immersion courses (which do work, so that's fair), and there are language learners who have no discretionary cash. IMX is clearly aimed at the former group. The latter group would be much better served by setting up a French-only Twitter account and a French-only RSS reader, and getting as addicted as humanly possible. You can do better than the IMX French database on your own, or by sharing notes with a few friends. That's one of the reasons I love reading people's logs.
3 persons have voted this message useful





emk
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 Message 966 of 1317
07 March 2014 at 12:12pm | IP Logged 
Today's free BD on Izneo: XIII, tome 1. This is a free digital purchase, too, not a rental. It's supposedly one of the classic series. Anyway, here's the description:

Quote:


LE JOUR DU SOLEIL NOIR TOME 1
Un solide gaillard aux allures de baroudeur se retrouve sans nom, sans passé, sans souvenir, dans un lieu inconnu. Son seul début d'indice pour découvrir son identité est un chiffre, XIII, qu'il porte en tatouage. Sa position est d'autant plus inconfortable qu'une bande de tueurs est à ses trousses.


(loosely:) THE DAY OF THE BLACK SUN, VOLUME 1
A solid man with the looks of an adventurer(/fighter) finds himself without a name, without a past, with a memory, in an unknown place. His only starting point for discovering his identity is number, XIII, that he bears as a tattoo. His position is all the more uncomfortable because a band of killers is on his tail.

Unusually, this will remain free until June 30th, so I thought it was worth mentioning.

The art is a little old-fashioned, below the standard of the best modern books. The text, however, is good, solid intermediate vocabulary. A strong B1 student who likes to read fiction, for example, could profit from learning almost any unknown word in the book. The story starts out much like The Bourne Identity, with a nice, dramatic hook. There are 22 volumes in the series, most of which can be rented for 10 days for 1.99€, and a few for 6.99€.

If this seems like the sort of thing you might like, today would be an excellent time to finally sign up for Izneo and to get a free BD. Enjoy. :-)
3 persons have voted this message useful





emk
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 Message 967 of 1317
07 March 2014 at 1:26pm | IP Logged 
iguanamon wrote:
My first reaction would be, why not follow people who post similar links on Twitter, for free? I follow journalists, writers, poets, English learning logs, singers, bloggers, etc.- all of whom interest me and random stuff pops up all the time.

OK, I rounded up a bunch of my favorite French Twitter accounts and made a list: Immersion française. At the moment, I think this compares pretty favorably to IMX French, with its overabundance of bouletcorp links and its slightly moldy links to strange literature blogs.

This took me all of 30 minutes to assemble, and it's free. Do you have some favorite French Twitter accounts I can add to this list? Your suggestions are eagerly welcome. :-)

I should probably set up an RSS->Twitter gateway, and add in a bunch of blogs and YouTube channels. But I think this gets the general idea across. I don't begrudge IMX French its price of $1/day, which could in theory be worth it for some people. I just wish the links were bit livelier.
5 persons have voted this message useful



Jeffers
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 Message 968 of 1317
07 March 2014 at 2:11pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
iguanamon wrote:
My first reaction would be, why not follow people who
post similar links on Twitter, for free? I follow journalists, writers, poets, English
learning logs, singers, bloggers, etc.- all of whom interest me and random stuff pops
up all the time.

OK, I rounded up a bunch of my favorite French Twitter accounts and made a list:
Immersion
française
. At the moment, I think this compares pretty favorably to IMX French,
with its overabundance of bouletcorp links and its slightly moldy links to strange
literature blogs.

This took me all of 30 minutes to assemble, and it's free. Do you have some favorite
French Twitter accounts I can add to this list? Your suggestions are eagerly welcome.
:-)

I should probably set up an RSS->Twitter gateway, and add in a bunch of blogs and
YouTube channels. But I think this gets the general idea across. I don't begrudge IMX
French its price of $1/day, which could in theory be worth it for some people. I just
wish the links were bit livelier.


That's very helpful. I've subscribed and will start culling all of those things I'm
following but never read (bbc click and things like that).

Who knew twitter was useful outside the 6wc and SC?


1 person has voted this message useful



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