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French: Fresh, fun & effortless media

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emk
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 Message 1297 of 1317
21 June 2015 at 9:26pm | IP Logged 
Thank you, everyone, for your feedback on the mailing list idea! I need to make some notes and make sure my list of awesome French media is big enough to send out interesting emails regularly. :-)

geoffw wrote:
Thanks so much for telling us about your troubles with Contrevent. I had previously checked it (for free, using
amazon's preview) out based on your recommendation and within the first page decided that this proved I was not
ready for real French books. (When I've read fiction in French since then, I've stuck to translations from English.) I
feel a bit better knowing that they're not all like this.

Yeah, it's definitely a difficult book. 23 narrators, each identified by an unpronounceable symbol; a profoundly alien world and society; lots of made up vocabulary. Extremely little French literature is like this, and nearly any other book you might choose would be easier. But apparently it's quite good, and I'll get around to puzzling my way through it some day.

Trying out VPNVision

VPNVision sells a VPN, or "virtual private network", which gives me an IP address in France and allows me to work around many geographic restrictions. I've briefly used it once before to buy a big stack of ebooks for the Super Challenge.

One of the nice things about a VPN is that it allows you to access many of the same TV channels as FrancophoneTV, but at a lower cost, and with a better interface for searching through recent episodes. On the downside, there's no Canal+, and you can't use a regular TV and remote control. Here are the most important channels available:



Here's me watching a TV episode:



So far, my reactions:

- The latency of the VPN is terrible (at least on one server), which means that ordinary browsing is painful.
- The bandwidth of the VPN is fine, which means that I can watch video without any problems.
- At 4€/month (with a year's subscription), this is a no-brainer, and every intermediate or higher language student with a sufficient budget should probably consider it.

I haven't looked at any of VPNVision's paid competitors. There are also free VPNs, but some of them are used to distribute malware, so be careful.

Cool things in French

Iron Man 3. Finished. My comprehension finally clicked by the end of the film. This is one of the better Marvel superhero films, actually.

Expérience Mort, tome 2. Finished the series. This one is pretty fun overall, in a "random summer science fiction movie" sort of way. Not profound literature, but not bad.

Popeye. Watched with the kids. Man, I must have been young and clueless to have ever watched this. :-/

Super 4. For a Playmobil merchandising tie-in, this isn't half bad—the animation is a well done, and the story lines are mostly appropriate for younger children. The French voices are about medium difficulty.

Stargate SG-1. Pretty well dubbed, moderate difficulty. Ah, how I miss the old days with Daniel Jackson and the Goa'uld. Available on NRJ12 via VPN (or Francophone TV, but you have to watch it real time, because reply doesn't work for NRJ12).

(Also, lots of random stuff on the web. How about a video game preview?)

Random thoughts on increasing my French media consumption

It's a lot easier to spend a lot of time with French media if I have lots of fresh, new stuff to choose from. It's almost embarrassing: Do I want to listen to cool podcasts, or play the albums I bought last week, or watch a good movie or dubbed series on TV, or read a science magazine, or maybe an interesting BD? I still haven't figured out how to set up a zero-hassle French Kindle, but the VPN definitely moves me closer.

Also, I'm beginning to suspect that I really do need to start watching a lot of movies in French. Right now, I can often get to 90+% comprehension of most dubbed and some native films within the first 30 to 60 minutes. I made enormous progress using TV series, because I could tune in on a single set of topics and voices, and that got me to the point where I could channel surf reasonably well. But if I want to reach Patrick's levels of comprehension, I need to listen to a wide variety of moderately challenging material.

Edited by emk on 21 June 2015 at 10:13pm

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patrickwilken
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 Message 1298 of 1317
22 June 2015 at 11:38am | IP Logged 
Eric, do you use an phone/tablet much?

Inspired by your search for content I have been checking out various free German newspaper/magazine apps. It's actually surprising how much great free content is available. I presume the same is true for French material. For instance, I had a quick look an saw that Charlie Hebdo has an app (but it's not free - 2.98 euros/issue).

Also have you tried the Flipboard app? It's really helpful for parsing Twitter feeds (check out my log for more info).

Edited by patrickwilken on 22 June 2015 at 11:41am

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emk
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 Message 1299 of 1317
22 June 2015 at 2:05pm | IP Logged 
patrickwilken wrote:
Also have you tried the Flipboard app? It's really helpful for parsing Twitter feeds (check out my log for more info).

Interesting! I've never tried Flipboard. I do use Twitter, but just as the usual web app. And I use Feedly as an RSS reader. It has a nice feature where it can show me just the most popular stories in a given category. Does Flipboard offer any kind of special Twitter integration that goes beyond this?

Personalized TV guide from SensCritique

This is amazingly cool:



That's right: I can tell SensCritique what channels I have access to (well, I can choose from common cable packages available in France), and it will make a personalized TV guide for me. Here's my customized movie guide for this week, based on people I've previously followed on SensCritique, with an obvious bias towards SF and action:



Combined with a VPN (for ≤4€/month) or FrancophoneTV/ReplayTV, this is obviously a devastatingly effective way to choose among lots of movies.

I really do think I should start recommending VPNs for intermediate and advanced students. It's worth figuring out how to get affordable, easy access to large amounts of native TV. I've tried living in the middle of a French media desert, and all that happens is that I basically stop watching stuff in French because it's too much work.

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patrickwilken
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 Message 1300 of 1317
22 June 2015 at 3:08pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
And I use Feedly as an RSS reader. It has a nice feature where it can show me just the most popular stories in a given category. Does Flipboard offer any kind of special Twitter integration that goes beyond this?


I use Feedly too for RSS feeds.

Flipboard has quite a different feel. It works really well on a smart phone, you essentially flip through content, using an upward sweep of your thumb, that feels very natural.

You can use it for RSS feeds (and Tumblr, FB feeds) if you want, though I have never done this, and just use it for Twitter.

You have a homepage, which selects the most popular stories from your other feeds. Since I switched my phone to German most of the recommendations have switched over, so it presumably uses language preference to bias selections.

I have linked to my Twitter account, so my complete twitter feed goes into a "flip" section, but you can also have sections based on hashtags, so I have flip sections for all tweets relating to #berlin and another for #neukölln (where I live). Some of these tweets are just people with photographs etc, but alot are news stories from German newspapers. You can also follow individual Twitter accounts - so I have separate flipboards for Ars Technica tweets and a couple of photo accounts. It would be simple to use it to follow the twitter feeds for particular French newspapers/magazines etc. You can also use it to follow particular people's twitter (or FB) feeds.

In addition there are lots of curated boards you can subscribe too. I follow "Greece" since I am interested in the crisis, but there are literally 1000s of other different boards you can follow depending on your interests.

When you flip onto something you like you simple press down to get the fuller story. If you like it you can 'press down' again and follow the link to the appropriate webpage. You can also easily retweet content you like directly from within Flipboard.

Edited by patrickwilken on 22 June 2015 at 3:13pm

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tastyonions
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 Message 1301 of 1317
22 June 2015 at 3:34pm | IP Logged 
"Easy Girl" ? Parfois les traductions (ou non-traductions !) des titres me font rire. Pourquoi ne pas mettre "Fille Facile" ? Mais le titre original ("Easy A") fait allusion à plusieurs choses en même temps ("easy" au sens de "fille facile" et au sens de "cours facile," "A" au sens de "bonne note" et la lettre "A" portée par la protagoniste du roman "The Scarlet Letter"). Pas facile d'englober tout ça dans une traduction de deux mots !
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emk
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 Message 1302 of 1317
22 June 2015 at 5:41pm | IP Logged 
Thank you, Patrick, for that awesome summary of Flipboard. I'll take a look. I love discovering new tools to inject more French into my life, though at this point, I'm already reaching the point where I have far more stuff I really want to enjoy than there are hours in the day! Which is actually the goal, so that's good.

tastyonions wrote:
"Easy Girl" ? Parfois les traductions (ou non-traductions !) des titres me font rire. Pourquoi ne pas mettre "Fille Facile" ? Mais le titre original ("Easy A") fait allusion à plusieurs choses en même temps ("easy" au sens de "fille facile" et au sens de "cours facile," "A" au sens de "bonne note" et la lettre "A" portée par la protagoniste du roman "The Scarlet Letter"). Pas facile d'englober tout ça dans une traduction de deux mots !

Il y a une bonne liste de ces « traductions » de l'anglais à l'anglais sur Topito. Oui, c'est parfois un peu ridicule. Mais au Québec, ils ont trouvé une autre solution, que les français trouvent bizarre. Moi, je ne vois pas vraiment les problème avec les titres du Québec dans la plupart des cas.
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tastyonions
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 Message 1303 of 1317
22 June 2015 at 6:40pm | IP Logged 
Hahaha, merci, la liste m'a fait bien marrer. Les pires, à mon avis:

"No Strings Attached" devient "Sex Friends," on dirait un porno plutôt qu'une comédie romantique.

De "Cruel Intentions" à "Sexe Intentions"...moi j'aurais conseillé "Liaisons dangereuses" (ou "Dangerous Liaisons" si on devait garder l'anglais) mais bon !

Plusieurs commentateurs ont remarqué l'enlèvement du mot "the" des titres, ce qui est un peu étrange. Peut-être que ça facilite la prononciation pour les journalistes qui ont du mal avec le "th" anglais. :-P
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Robierre
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 Message 1304 of 1317
23 June 2015 at 12:34am | IP Logged 
emk wrote:


La Zone du Dehors, by Alain Damasio. Alain Damasio is the one French
science fiction author I've never quite been about to handle. His La Horde du
Contrevent
is the single most difficult French book I own


I never read anything by Damasio but I know a "song" produced by the French musician Rone
(great electronic music) where Damasio is reading a fragment from La horde du contrevent.
:-)
Rone - Bora

Edited by Robierre on 23 June 2015 at 12:36am



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