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Things happen on the Net

Things happen on the Net

I had just had an great idea for the post to end all posts at lifehack.org and all I needed was a one really good image to illustrate it. So I go over to my favorite cheap stock photography site – iStockPhoto – only to find the home page gone and this garish octopus ripping the head off some sort of cartoon figure with the message: “iStockPhoto is down for maintenance. Please try again in 15 minutes.” Bummer!

iStockPhoto is down

Then a cold chill ran down my back: just how much of my largely digitalized life was at risk of smashing into the same brick wall?

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I had so gotten used being a Lord of Digital Creation – able to grab cool photos from any one of a hundreds of thousands of photographers all over the globe with the wave of a credit card – and suddenly I’ve been stuffed into the Internet WayBack Machine and now it was 1997 or even earlier.

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Photos. Music! (remember CDs?). Diskettes. Windows 98. The horror!

Getting a grip on myself, I realized:

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  • Every brave new world has brave new problems. Get used to it.
  • The problem wasn’t iStockPhoto; the problem was me making the newbie assumption that what worked yesterday will work today on the net.
  • I could cope.

I admit, I may be being overly dramatic here, but here’s the unvarnished core of this post: Adopting a few new habits and ways of thinking before you need them will serve you well in the Digital World. Like the Internet itself, you need to be able to route around temporary blockages and permanent failures:

  • Email. You send your boss a super critical (your job depends on it) email while they are on the road, with an attachment. Don’t assume she gets it – the spam filter at her hotel may have it for lunch. Send her a “Just to confirm you got it” email immediately thereafter.
  • Web Services. Don’t depend on just one web service for something you need to do your job or live your life – be it iStockPhoto, Yahoo News or even Google. Get to know your alternatives – like imagepick, BBC News and the many Google alternatives at Alt Search Engines.
  • Online Backup Services. Whether it’s .Mac,Mozy or Iron Mountain, backup services can fail, or more likely you forgot to read paragraph 17 and the backups you thought you were doing you weren’t doing. Test your backups, and verify monthly that they are working.

Hopefully, you’ll never get a digital stop sign thrown up in you face when you least expect it. But if you do, a little preplanning and a little preparation will unruin your day. Now, if I could only remember what I was going to post about!

Bob Walsh runs a consulting firm for microISVs and startup software companies at 47hats.com, authored Micro-ISV: From Vision to Reality and Clear Blogging: How People Blogging Are Changing the World and How You Can Join Them and is currently working on a secret project.

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Last Updated on November 5, 2019

5 Best Language Learning Apps to Master a New Language

5 Best Language Learning Apps to Master a New Language

Learning a new language is no easy feat. While a language instructor is irreplaceable, language learning apps have come to revolutionize a lot of things and it has made language learning much easier. Compared to language learning websites, apps offer a more interactive experience to learn a new language.

The following language learning apps are the top recommended apps for your language learning needs:

1. Duolingo

    Duolingo is a very successful app that merged gamification and language learning. According to Expanded Ramblings, the app now counts with 300 million users.

    Duolingo offers a unique concept, an easy-to-use app and is a great app to accompany your language acquisition journey. The courses are created by native speakers, so this is not data or algorithm-based.

    The app is free and has the upgrade options with Duolingo Plus for $9.99, which are add free lessons. The mobile app offers 25 languages and is popular for English-speaking learners learning other languages.

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    Download the app

    2. HelloTalk

      HelloTalk aims to facilitate speaking practice and eliminate the stresses of a real-time and life conversation. The app allows users to connect to native speakers and has a WhatsApp like chat that imitates its interface.

      There is a perk to this app. The same native speakers available also want to make an even exchange and learn your target language, so engagement is the name of the game.

      What’s more, the app has integrated translation function that bypasses the difficulties of sending a message with a missing word and instead fills in the gap.

      Download the app

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      3. Mindsnacks

        Remember that Duolingo has integrated gamification in language learning? Well, Mindsnacks takes the concept to another level. There is an extensive list of languages available within the app comes with eight to nine games designed to learn grammar, vocabulary listening.

        You will also be able to visualize your progress since the app integrates monitoring capabilities. The layout and interface is nothing short of enjoyable, cheerful and charming.

        Download the app

        4. Busuu

          Bussu is a social language learning app. It is available on the web, Android, and iOS. It currently supports 12 languages and is free.

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          The functionality allows users to learn words, simple dialogues and questions related to the conversations. In addition, the dialogues are recorded by native speakers, which brings you close to the language learning experience.

          When you upgrade, you unlock important features including course materials. The subscription is $17 a month.

          Download the app

          5. Babbel

            Babbel is a subscription-based service founded in 2008. According to LinguaLift, it is a paid cousing of Duolingo. The free version comes with 40 classes, and does not require you to invest any money.

            Each of the classes starts with with a sequential teaching of vocabulary with the help of pictures. The courses are tailor made and adapted to the students’ level, allowing the learning to be adjusted accordingly.

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            If you started learning a language and stopped, Babbel will help you pick up where you started.

            Download the app

            Takeaways

            All the apps recommended are tailored for different needs, whether you’re beginning to learn a language or trying to pick back up one. All of them are designed by real-life native speakers and so provide you with a more concrete learning experience.

            Since these apps are designed to adapt to different kinds of learning styles, do check out which one is the most suitable for you.

            More About Language Learning

            Featured photo credit: Yura Fresh via unsplash.com

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