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Gadgets Lifestyle

Good Grammar – The role of Technology

For folks old enough to remember, there was this popular “soonest recover” musician who sang,

“Grammar, grammar, grammar no be MONEY

Grammar, grammar, grammar no be PROGRESS

Grammar, grammar, grammar no be my LANGUAGE”.

He was trying to belittle the importance of quintessential and accurate use of grammar when communicating. I would not subscribe to that!

As geeks looking to improve all facets of our lives, it occurred to me that, with the use technology, mastery of our Official Language here in Nigeria (English) can be facilitated through the adequate application of technology.

This post also has its roots in the recent depressing news that about 80% of students that sat for the Secondary School Certificate Examinations failed Mathematics and ENGLISH! Saddening.

Speaking good and impeccable English is predicated on reading articles by writers and listening to and interacting with articulate and compelling orators. The opportunity to be a voracious reader is right there by reading materials emanating from the Masters of the Language.

We learn MORE by DOING. We need to practice speaking and writing . To continually expand on, and improve upon your vocabulary, practice is essential and ineluctable! Practice also makes perfect. Hearing somebody speak or worse still, write with egregious unpardonable grammatical errors, has me unconsciously rating that person intellectually low.

Now, how can technology help us mitigate this problem of ubiquitous ‘grammatical murders’ being committed even by the ‘mighty?’ ( A certain first lady also jumped into this fray – recently –lips sealed)

I make use of a number of software to ensure my grammar does not send people into a paroxysm of derisive convulsive laughter.

My favourite word processor (MicroSoft Word), like most modern word processors – has a grammar checker. When a construction is suspect, it alerts me of this, then I can re-construct. It also has a Spelling Checker. When a word is spelt incorrectly, it indicates this, and suggests the correct one.

There is also an inbuilt Thesaurus. Communicating effectively entails using the APPOSITE words, at the right time. The English language is so rich that a wrong word in the right place can totally change the way the message is perceived by the reader or listener.

Other technology tools I use on my Netbook  Computer (NC) are standalone applications like TinySpell and The Sage’s English Dictionary and Thesaurus . I highly  recommend ‘TheSage’ . Its sagacity is irrefutable! Like with most applications I use on my Windows NC, these are both Portable Applications. On my Smartphone, I make use of the popular MsDict Viewer (www.mobisystems.com) . And on the world wide web, some sites to visit in your question to improve your grammar are: www.quizlet.com , www.dictionary.com , www.Thesaurus.com and www.wordnik.com .

One tip that most would probably find very useful is using the popular search engine, Google as your dictionary. To search for the meaning and the etymological ancestry of a word, visit  www.google.com (or  m.google.com  on your mobile phone);

type DEFINE followed by the word in which you are interested e,g type ‘DEFINE oppobrium’

and GOOGLE will DE-mystify all !

It must be emphasized that the possession of a prodigious amount of vocalulary does not make you a good communicator. Good construction is like building an architectural masterpiece. You can use the right materials and still get the building wrong. The trick is in how you utilize the pieces.

A certain Member of the Nigerian House of Assembly reputed for using highfalutin and grandiloquent words – comes to mind. While the words he uses exist in the dictionary, he hardly ever makes sense with his sentences!

What about you? Are you applying technology to make you a more compelling communicator? Are you eschewing committing grammatical ‘murders’ in public?

The punishment for such ‘murders is ‘public opprobrium’. I go laugh o o o o o …

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Gadgets

Get A Firm Grip of Your Finances Using Your Phone

As a follow-up to the article “Are you making use of that Smartphone? “, this is a post on how to further save money by making better use of your smartphone.

We all know that feeling, you have just loaded “credit” on your phone, accessible and available for ‘burning’, inexorably leading you into temptation! Never mind what they say about the best way to avoid temptation is to fall into it, one really have to be prudent these days. Just like you are more likely to embark on an unnecessary journey when your car tank is fully filled-up  than when quarter-full, there is a higher likelihood that you will make more calls with your phone or be a little careless with internet usage when your phone is freshly and fully topped up.

I will attempt to list a few of the strategies that can be used to save some money using your smartphone.

GET A GRIP ON  YOUR AIRTIME USAGE

It is a no-brainer that the greatest money-leak on your phone would be related to airtime usage via calls, sms and internet connection. Making use of installed applications on your phone can go a long way in arousing your consciousness about this money leak. There are applications that terminates your outgoing calls once a conversation reaches a defined number of minutes. I use AutoHangUp on the Symbian platform to achieve this, This app can also terminate incoming calls. If you are a very busy person, (and even if you are not!), you waste an irreplaceable resource (TIME) chattering needlessly. And we know TIME equals MONEY. An app such as that would also be useful for checkmating people who like borrowing airtime, “Can I have a minute on your phone”? A minute can then be a minute, not five!

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF PROVIDER OFFERS

Some service providers offer you free airtime when you load credit of up to a certain amount. Make use of your calculator and see if it is not better to get 10% extra for loading N500 – rather than your loading N200.

AVOID  UNNECESSARY DATA CONNECTION

This strategy has been over-discussed. There are numerous applications available to restrict and monitor data consumption on that phone of yours. You may also consider low-cost monthly data plans being offered by some of the networks if you are a heavy data user. N1000 could get you at least 100MB of data allocation which is more than sufficient for mobile internet usage in a month.

EMBRACE PROSTITUTION

Yes, you heard me right! Perpetually be on the  look-out  for the network offering the best deals. Be it voice calls or internet service. I recommend you have all the Subscriber Identification Modules (SIM) cards of all the networks to be able to take advantage of promos – as they happen. There is cut-throat competition among the networks currently. You save yourself a bundle by keeping your ears firmly glued to the ground, and switching from one network to the other to take advantage of better deals as they happen. Do not be faithful. It does not pay!

MAKE USE OF AN APPLICATION  TO TRACK YOUR SPENDING

Your phone is perpetually with you. It such a faithful companion that your wife or husband is probably jealous of that relationship. You can  keep track of your expenditure-on-the-go, easily. Keeping track is a sure way of knowing how fast you are digging your financial grave!. I currently make use of Handy Expense – again on the Symbian platform to know how near or far I am to financial oblivion.

USE THAT PHONE  – MORE, BUT EFFICIENTLY

A lot of journeys can be avoided by making use of a simple call. A lot of calls can be sidelined, making use of a simple sms or email. Many banking transactions can be concluded entirely using your smartphone. Take advantage.

MAKE USE OF ON-THE-WEB SMS SERVICE

If you make use of a lot of sms like I do, it is better you subscribe to any of the numerous services offering dirt-cheap rates for bulk sms. Some of them offer rates as low as under 2 Naira. A lot of them offer a limited number of free sms daily (e.g www.get2sms.com). I use smslive247.com – without any complaints. Do you really need to print that wedding invitation? Can bulk sms achieve the same purpose? How about seasonal greetings?

Those are some of the strategies that can be employed to save yourself some money. You spent good money to procure your smartphone. Get your money’s worth by being more creative, you can easily and progressively save yourself a ton of money, Embrace technology, and use it to get a firm grip on your financial life !

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Gadgets

Are you making use of that Smartphone?

Many people these days crave the newest, shinniest and sleekiest model of just about ANYTHING. I call it TECHOMANIA. I doubt if it is cure-able!

There is a marketing line from a company that says “you can separate the MEN from the BOYS from the prices of their toys”. Bang & Olufsen, I think. Show me your TOY and I will tell you who you are!

We want the latest model of that curvaceous Toyota Camry, that captivating iPhone and that iridescent Samsung Galaxy S.  It is an irony of life that those who are comfortably able to afford the top-of-range toys are the ones who hardly have the time to explore it and make proper use of their intrinsic capabilities.

Even those that are have the time often lack the technical know-how, or knowledge to make use of their TOYS to the best of the toys’ awesome capabilities.

Which brings me to the question, “are you really making use of your smartphone”?  The modern-day smartphone is actually MORE of other things- than a phone. I submit that a smartphone is a computer that has the capability to also offer telephony service. It is multi-talented. I use my smartphone for more of those OTHER THINGS than actual telephony itself.
smartphones
Many of the utilitarian values derivable from your smartphone are dependent on the array of software available for that gadget. What is the essence of that late-model Ford Mustang without adequate fuel to power it?. Or capable tyres to keep that power user tight control?. It is therefore vitally important to ensure that the smartphone you procure runs an Operating System (OS) that has a good and divergent array of software. It is through the software available for your device that you unleash all the power “under the hood”

It is noteworthy that you can actually get the same, or close to same, functionality via software as the hardware equivalent.

Listed below are some of the items and services your smartphone will eventually eliminate or at best, reduce in importance . It is meant to emphasize just how versatile these supposed “phones” really are:

– I do not buy have to buy PHYSICAL books & newspapers anymore There are enough books available for free on the internet – than any human being can read in a thousand lifetimes.

– Brick-and-mortar publishers, bookshops, libraries and newspaper houses are likely to continue to get diminishing patronage. My SmartPhone, via the internet, affords me access to all these services. When was the last time you visited a Post Office?

Okay, I agree. The smartphone will not replace Parcel Companies like DHL any time soon.

– I see brick-and-mortar Educational Institutions going out of fashion, witht learning primarily being via the internet.

– My smartphone can wake me up from sleep (via its alarm facility), put me to sleep (via sonorous/mellifluous music), serve as a teacher of foreing languages, motivate / elevate my spirit when I am down, serve as my mechanic (via auto sites), keep track of my spending_pattern, be my ad hoc doctor!

– My SmartPhone can serve as my Television, Radio Set, Media Player,digital diary, replace my standalone digital camera, GPS, wrist watch, torch light, remote control and alarm clock.

– It can serve as my car alarm system via a software like ExpressAlarm [for Symbian os).  The list is almost endless.

When you shell out good money for these expensive toys, see whether your smartphone that you permanently have with you cannot serve some purpose that you ordinarily accomplish in another fashion.

I will conclude this piece by saying that your smartphone, through the software installed on it and via the power afforded through the internet, will make your life more organized, purposeful and efficient. Your professional and social/personal life will be all the better for it by the efficacious use of this wonderful device – the SMARTphone!