Always Learning!

The world through the prism of my mind

Archive for July, 2006

Strawberry Fields Memorial for July 16th

Posted by Alexandre Rafalovitch on July 25, 2006


I don’t normally go very far uptown in Central Park, but this time I did. So, I discovered the Strawberry Fields Memorial to John Lennon. Aparently, it often has flowers and candles. This time (July 16th), it also had muffins.


Posted in Weird Stuff | Leave a Comment »

French/Russian audio word list

Posted by Alexandre Rafalovitch on July 17, 2006

A Frenchman studying Russian could not find a good free audio word-list, so he built one himself. Check it out if you studying French or Russian. And if you are fluent in Russian, consider helping him out (I will try to when I have time).

And if the idea of list building for the language learning purposes appeals to you, you could try out the software he built to make the recording task easier.

Posted in Language acquisition, Learning French | Leave a Comment »

FreshNotes: Web 2.0 company using computational linguistics

Posted by Alexandre Rafalovitch on July 13, 2006

FreshNotes (currently in alpha) uses basic named entity extraction and maybe information extraction to produce a website that allows to search and navigate relationships between people and/or topics. The interface, but of course it is all pre-baked at the moment.

From the CL point of view, I can see that there is very little smarts in the system yet. Only people’s full names are detected, I don’t see any implications of coreference resolution and the relationship is determined by the names proximity and possibly frequency of co-occurrence. Topics are basic search phrases. People have photographs, which are either licensed from the 3rd party (most probable option) or manually produced.

It is quite possible that even this would be sufficient to make the website interesting from users’ point of view. Or maybe, they just did not get to it yet. But the promise on the website is much grander and so far I do not see it being fulfilled with what they are showing. I think they would have trouble scaling past the many manual steps currently required to connect the knowledge.

FreshNotes presented last Tuesday at the New York Tech Meetup group, and some people have since blogged about their opinion (e.g., Mark Crofton).

Update (7th of November, 2006) – Company is now Knover and is in beta.

Posted in Computational Linguistics, web2.0 | Leave a Comment »

Esperanto is … a bit of everything

Posted by Alexandre Rafalovitch on July 13, 2006

Nice short video about things one could do after (and during) learning Esperanto (via Amuzulo). No surprise to anyone – except Esperanto-bashers – that one can do pretty much anything – travel, read books, make friends, play games, participate in congresses with thousands of people, etc). Any new language is a cross-cutting experience, Esperanto is not an exception.

The video finishes with a pointer to , an Esperanto learning website that I strongly recommend myself. I am currently using it as my primary learning method.
In fact, Lernu! is a better website from language-learning point of view than I have seen for other languages (e.g., French). Part of that is because many of the Esperanto resources are free (dictionaries, reading materials, etc), while resources for other languages are commercialised to the point that one site cannot even afford to integrate them together. And I am not even talking about distributed volunteer mentors that are happy to help in whatever is your first language.

Posted in Esperanto | Leave a Comment »

Scottish Country Dancing in Houston

Posted by Alexandre Rafalovitch on July 12, 2006

Scottish Country Dancing is danced everywhere. It is certainly danced in Houston (Texas). The website of the group run by Dianna Shipman looks friendly and inviting. While some links are dead, the explanations of figures are quite interesting and have cute hand-drawn diagrams.

Worth a browse.

Posted in RSCDS | Leave a Comment »