October 2008 Archives

Where can I sign up?

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In reading Chapter 9-11 in Don't Make Me Think, I immediatly focused on the idea of people paying users to test their sites. I'm a poor college kid and am very willing to share my opinions for a measly $50. I also enjoy the Web (done right) and usability testing. Actually, I really enjoy taking any kid of survey that can teach me something about myself or benefit me with money or a reward.

In any case, that is not the only thing I learned from these chapters. I found, especially chap 9 and 10 very helpful when learning about how to properly (and cheaply) usability test. These chapters were very similar to Dr. Jerz's ideas on his usability tips handout. Even those his were quick tips and Krugs were extended explanations, they really had the same concepts like try to get an accurate audience, but don't worry about it too much. Ask your users specific (not opinionated) questions not just "do you like it?"

I thought the handout was a good start point, but wished I would have read Krug's chapters first before I conducted the test. In reading, I immediatly found some things I wished I had done instead. But, it was a learning experience. Live, Learn, and then get Luvs. <- One of my favorite ads as a child.

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Slouching From Bedlam

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Slouching Toward Bedlam I didn't much enjoy in the beginning. I couldn't figure out to do except the basic Inventory, Examine everything, and take anything I can. I walked around after that. Talked to James and the cab driver and walked some more just exploring the institution, I guess. In this game, I concluded that the doctor was going crazy also, but didn't want to tell anyone. The longlines of pushed together text, I also realized, was not a glitch in the game, but the episodes the doctor goes through.

I reached another room across the walkway and was able to put the rod key into some panel, sending the doctor on another trip and the room moving so that the exit is now North. I decided, what the hell, let's go N then. I came out in the Panopticon.

I must say I was excited because I just read an article for a difficulty paper in Dr. Arnzen's Honors Seminar in Thinking and Writing class on the Panopticon just recently. So I may have an understanding of how this game will be structured. A central tower watches and links to the cells or rooms of each prisoner/patient. That way all can be seen by the administration, but its structured in such a way that the patients can't see the admin. I have an idea now why the doctor may feel like he is going crazy because the Panopticon structure creates stress and a feeling of constantly observed can create paranoia.

So I contined the game for the rest of the hour, exploring the rooms and looking for something to do. After many of the rooms, letting me down I found one that had a shrill sound coming from the pipes and it got scary for a second (finally). But, I couldn't figure out what to do with the pipe so I just kept examining it. There was a cricket somewhere and so after nearly 20 minutes being in the same room, I tried to leave but no other rooms had anything useful. I tried going back to the place I'd come from and couldn't do that either.

I, then, looked for a walkthrough and realized that we chose the story with five different endings. Struggle as I might, I could not find the proper walkthrough (although I did find I could kill James) and I ended up Slouching Away From Bedlam when my hour was up.

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How Short?

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In Usability Testing: 8 Quick Tips, I found that I may not of understood just how short to make the test. To me, the 6 questions I asked about the 3 tasks I had them do (excluding pretest and post-test questions) was a quick test. To my testers, it wasn't so quick.

They had to to 12 questions and 6 tasks because they had to do both websites. The football game was on and, really, they felt it was a hassle. Perhaps, my test was too long.

A part of the tips that really did help me though was move beyond just opinion and to tag "why" onto many of the questions. It got a lot of valuable information out of the users like what can be improved on the homepage. If they told me, in passing, that they like National Geographic website better, I would ask why and write down their answer.

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Jump Ship!

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Overcrowded homepages remind me of Titanic. I don't want to be there. I want to leave as soon as possible. Or go back in time so that I'm at Google again and can board another, better looking page. Krug does a good job illustrating how this comes about and how to fix it. A welcome blurb and tagline are good ideas for my homepage. I just wish I knew how to make that look professional.

I did think there was an Average User before I read Chapter 8 also. To me, it just seemed there had to be some similiar pattern to most people. Anything can be proven with research, right? But, I see how an Average User just cannot be. Certain things work with certain sites when done well. 

I look forward to the next chapter, helping me learn usability testing. All his information has been short and concise, but I really want to start learning what I don't know consciously and unconsciously. That would be the testing.

Can anyone explain to me the Web crash of 2001 that destroyed these sites?

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Law of Usability

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I find it funny that the third law of usability is "Get rid of half the words on each page, then get rid of half of what's left." This is by Krug himself.

He quotes this at the beginning of Chapter 5 and then soon into the wonderfully short chapter he says he didn't mean it. I understand his purpose and reasons behind this, I just find it amusing.

Moving on to real stuff now. I greatly appreciated how short chapter 4 and 5 were. I never really played 20 questions and I like how the word did not over explain it. It just gave us a link. And, even without the link I understood the need for easy navigation and little words. "Happy talk must die" was so humorous to me.

I was put off by how long the sixth chapter was but pushed on. It had quite a few good ideas about navigation and really pushed how important navigation is to a website. I liked the idea of the Home Page navigation as a "Get out of Jail free" card. Sometimes I really need one when I get into trouble on websites. I also really liked "You Are Here" and I can figure that out how to make a simple version of those on my website. And, I will use the trunk test on my websites (when I really get around to creating them) because, as I looked at the other sites, I had a hard time navigating some and finding all the items.

But, Krug seems partial to Amazon.com. Did it get him some kind of endorsment? He makes it sound like the almost perfect website.

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Text Adventures with Passion

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For anyone who has met my sister Passion or any of my other siblings, I think that if I could pull a prank like text adventures on my siblings their reactions would be hilarious. But, I can't type that fast on IM and I'd have to set it up some other way. I also wouldn't take a dump on their bed...that's just gross.

I think once my sisters figured it out or saw another text adventure game they'd really like to try it. Passion likes video games and Cherish likes computer games and in between are Tia and Darius so I'm sure they all would have fun. I think next time I come home I'll show it to them if I haven't come up with a Text Adventure prank.

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Rocket Surgery...

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Reflection on Intro to Chapter 3 of Don't Make Me Think...

At first in the Intro, I didn't quite catch that rocket surgery was wrong. It's a combination of rocket science and brain surgery. I don't really know why that is his motto. Maybe because it is wrong. In any case, it made me think (and I wasn't too happy bout that).

I do, though, like that it is a thin book and easy to read. Perhaps Kilian could benefit from structuring his book similarly. In chapter one, I agree that making a website self-evident or at least self-explanatory really helps the user. I know many times I've given up frustrated with a search because I couldn't produce the right keywords or in a website I could not figure out how to purchase the item I wanted.

Onto the idea of Billiboards. I'm a writer and I like a lot of words in my stories, but I can see how detail like that can be scanned over. Heck, I do it. So, making the homepage (at least) like a billboard is a great idea. It gets straight to the point.

I enjoy this book because I'm learning about things I didn't know, or things that I knew just not consciously. Like making heirarchies and using conventions. My pages could really use that to make navigating even easier.

I also enjoy Krug's cliche's, jokes, and quotes littered throughout the book. It reminds me of my writing style and keeps me interested in a nonfiction book.

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The Good and Bad of Our Homepage

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Alex and I received several positive comments about our IF homepage such as the clear, large title, the clear navigation with great use of links, a good color scheme, and it was simple, which goes along with the idea of Don't Make Me Think. This "simple" idea linked to another comment about how they liked that all the text fit on the homepage without having to scroll.

Things we could fix are to change the color of the links because the links were close to the same color as the text. Also, adding more background info would be helpful to anyone who just came across the site. More background info means more links. Last, we got many notes on increasing picture size to fill up some of the blank space and make the layout a little more creative and a little less "Sarah's Notecards."

My reactions to the presentations today were that a lot of the sites had background information and I was a little set off that we did not have that. It seems like a great way to inform the user of our purpose, but at the same time I feel that some had too much background info. This could potentially steer readers away if they have to sift through long messages.

I did really like the website Aero and Jess created because it did look professional. I did not mind the sides though because they complimented the color scheme and old-fashioned idea of IF. I did mind how their font was so small. Many of the websites I saw, I felt had really small text even when it was enlarged. Other fonts I found were very thin and the background ate them up. 

We have one question though. Do we have to make these changes to our website?

Whoa, I Heard Jerz Outside of Class...

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When I first started listening, I found the voice was familiar and then I realized that it was Dr. Jerz! Maybe I wasn't paying attention when he said he was the one speaking. It still caught me off gaurd and made listening more interesting.

I found the intro funny and even the description of the first commerical computer game to be interesting. Perhaps if I played it I feel that I could enjoy it and have "fun" like Jerz said it was. It may even help me feel more connected (or better understand to) the early internet, computers, and games.

Now I'm not much of a history buff so listening ot reading historical text can bore me. The links were a helpful distraction. When Scott Adams gave his verbal example, I could see how games that had little memory could get frustrating, but also how they could be fun. I was sad when I found out there were no picture. It would be cool to get pictures even the really bad graphics from things like from Final Fantasy One. However, I also see how pictures could ruin the imagination.

 Online Gaming also seems very fun, but my sister once got an online game and I saw how addicted she got to it. She wouln't go out with friends and shirked her schoolwork. I also played Neopets when I was young and it seriously took me months to wean myself off.

Since then, I've been wary about how much time I have to play online or even computer games and haven't picked up one I knew was easily addicting. I also agree that in some movies and games the violence is taken to the point that is no longer appropriate or fun.

And, that's all I have to say about that.

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The Kilian Review

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All in all, I can't say I enjoyed this book. But, my personal opinion doesn't matter. What matters is if the book can help its audience and in some cases I think it does. The first part reviews:
  • different audiences
  • keeping the audience in mind
  •  the idea of information, orientation, and audience (although I feel the idea is expressed so much throughout the book that it becomes redundant)
  • active vs. passive voice
  • the importance of short paragraphs & sentences
  • Anglo-Saxon vs. Greco-Latin
With the exception of Anglo-Saxon vs. Greco-Latin, this review I personally found boring because I knew it all. If someone was coming into this with no knowledge, however, these tips would be very useful. This is also useful for Kilian's idea of helping those coming from a background of print-writing make the switch to electronic-writing.

Nevertheless, I feel there are audiences that haven't properly been considered in this book.I think the Web 4.0 could also benefit from review about print writing. Many of my classmates hadn't taken print-writing classes and did not know the differences between print and electronic writing.

Another idea is to update some of the examples. The cliches, for instance, need to become more modern and appeal to Americans and Canadians. I hadn't heard of any of those cliches mentioned in the book and so I felt it was really out of date. Another example problem is the CD. I found it hard to navigate and couldn't find the examples for the assignments. This breaks down what the book is saying about making your website easy for the reader to navigate.

The book also draws on lengthy paragraphs and many times lost my interest. It may be in print, but younger readers have become so accustomed to the short stuff that they get frustrated reading long texts. Kilian's readers are becoming younger and younger and the book needs to consider that. Adding more bulleted points or just shortening the paragraphs may help.

Web 3.0 also does a good job of explaining Corporate Writing. As much as I may dislike learning and doing corporate writing, I felt these sections did a good job of explaining it. (And I loved the section on propaganda. You don't hear much about that unless you take a course on it.) But, I felt the wording was rather forceful and left little hope for The Artist to express their work.

That's really all I have to say about that. I hope the comments that we make will be reviewed by Kilian for Writing for the Web 4.0 so that readers after me will have a more convienient time.

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Lifelong Frienemies: The Artist and The Man

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Between this portfolio and the last, I have found out about the struggle between The Artist and The Man. Throughout Kilian's book, I struggled against his idea of incorporating the corporation and limiting your personal voice. In the increasing electronic literary world, the artist struggles to make interesting electronic works that are still considered literary and that will not confound or bore the reader.

I also learned that The Man and The Artist can compliment each other. The Man needs The Artist to make his site different from competitors, newer and edgier. And, The Artist needs The Man (even though he has to bend to rule of the corporation) to make money to feed and clothe himself and to develop a profile. Therefore, I have learned these two opposites are frienemies.

This portfolio for EL236 Writing for the Internet will demonstrate the work that I have done and what I have learned between my last portfolio and now.

 

Coverage: Entries that include quotes from the reading, identify the source, and link to the course web page

Timeliness: Posted on time, if not early

Interaction: Shows my ability to interact (keep a converstation) with peers or blogs with the most comments

Depth: Entries that involve in-depth blogging

Discussion: Places where I've made signifigant comments or sparked discussions

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Electronic Lit Expanding

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Electronic Literature, though I barely heard of it before, seems to be expanding. Aside from sites like Fictionpress.com and blogging sites, I hadn't heard of any other type of place showing off literary works. Fictionpress, like blogging, can very linear where a reader can pick a story and read chapter by chapter or pick up on the chapter they left on. If they like the story, they can look at the author's other stories or other works that the author has highlighted as their favorites. Before this class, I hadn't heard of text reading any more complicated (or giving the reader more freedom) than this.

When we started with The Heist, I was put off because, to me, it was set up without any clear path and there were so many links jumping different points of views and different times in the story. The same thing happened with University of Yellow Wallpaper because it was chaos as my blog describes. I hadn't read Yellow Wallpaper before so I didn't understand why it was set up this way.

It wasn't until I hit The Body that I started to like hypertext literature and see that it offers a lot the electronic world. It is a hypertext narrative, one of the many forms of internet literature, that has the "shape and limit" of fiction (in my opinion) and is still non-linear.

 As I explored the Electronic Literature Volume 1, I saw many other forms of electronic literature like linear narratives, animated text, game-like literature, and stretchtext poetry. All these individual sites and literature made their own stories in creative ways that kept the interest of the reader and were mostly well done.

These sites called into question the basic principles like "fixed sentence" in my exploring of I, You, We. At this site, the creator allows the the reader to create and navigate their own story, not through links, but by turning the 3D world to make sentences that either begin or end with I, you, and we. The sentences are very the reader can start several sentences such as "I torment you" and imagine what happens from there. Or they can make another sentence to add onto the idea. "I torment you. You lament." The creator also gave the site the ability to move on its own and the reader can pick up a string of ideas as the words move around the center "I", which makes the idea that the reader is the center of this universe. (They have the control over this site to make what they want happen.) Depending on the reader, they may love or hate this style of interaction.

I also looked at a site that breaks the concept of "wholeness" by hiding information in the middle and taking away dialogue. In RedRidinghood, which I explored further, the story is animated, but lacks text or sound. The reader is not quite sure what is happening and finds out by clicking around the screen. At one point, the reader has the option of taking two paths. If they do not choose the path that allows Red to "dream" and if they do not click on Red in time, they will not see part of the middle of the story.

The middle of the story contains a dream sequence and her diary that might further explain what Red's complicated feelings  towards the Wolf Boy and her demonic-like attitude. If the reader takes time to find all of these links and watch the story over and over than they may understand what happens in the end. But, if they don't, this lack of togetherness makes it difficult for the reader to understand what happens in the end because it isn't the conventional tale of Little Red Ridinghood.

In these complicated and sometimes misguided attempts to story-telling, Electronic Literature is expanding to encompass a range of visual, audio, and textual experiences for the reader. Sometimes these experiences will turn out well or fun to navigate, while others haven't quite made the proper switch and can frustrate readers. 

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Demon Hood

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I went through RedRidinghood again and this time chose the dream sequence. Another window popped open and I sorted through it trying to find the meaning. I couldn't get past the kids in the meat locker and woke red up. I watched the ending sequence again and I think I saw that she either ate the boy or she was pregnant with him or his child in the end. Another man stands over her with something I could not see.

I went to the beginning again and read the "enquiring minds" section. I understood a little more of what I was to find or understand (that this story is trying out unstructured story allowing the reader to choose and it was supposed to have disturbing aspects). I also read the the author description to see if I missed some parts. I did.

And I went through the story again. I found extra links by clicking around and found the girls diary. I flipped through it while trying to pay attention the the ongoing story. I also found another part in the beginning with more links to the idea of creating life. This movie has no dialogue which makes it hard to piece together. I think, perhaps, the girl got pregnant  (maybe was raped) and hates the boy and her life now. Or wonders why it happened to her. Or maybe likes the boy in some twisted way.

While going through it, I also tried the dream sequence again. It had the same ending but different beginning dealing with an angel who I guess didn't save her from what was to happen later. I tried the dreams again and again following different paths and coming up with new scenes, but I still don't quite know what the full story behind this girl is. I only get more interested and agitated as I come across new and confusing scenes and links.

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The Four...

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In Electronic Literature Collection  V1, I first viewed Jean-Pierre Balpe ou les Lettres Dérangées. At first, I didn't read the introduction and dove right into the site. I found this quickly was a mistake as I tried to understand why there were flashing letters that I seemed to have no control over. Soon, I went back to the beginning and looked over the objective (to find the right links to learn the French alphabet. I got all the way to the letter Q before I left to look at another link.

I went to I, You, We and looked around for a bit. I thought it was cool, the way I could move the text into a 3D sense. I looked through the entire thing and, of course I founf the "I" because it was right up front, but in my search I took several moments to find a "you" or "we". It wasn't until I realized that there could be more than one "you" and definatly more than one "we" that I found them littered in the background. I liked this because I could create my own sentences and see ones that the author set up for us. I feel there is meaning in the amount and the position of all the words, but at the moment I wanted to see another site.

The next was RedRidinghood and I liked it because it was a visual story I could click on. I followed it all the way through once and there was the option to let riding hood dream but I woke her up instead. I wonder what would happen if I went back. Also, the ending was confusing and I can only see vaguely how feminist perception. I think I will examine this one further.

The last one I visited, carrier (becoming symborg), you typed in your name and had to choices. I chose not to come with this virus and was sent to learn about it in an unconventional way with many popups and finally I was asked and asked again to join until I said yes. I was weirded out by the result. The virus used my name and insinuated weird intimate things that were not sexual but like "sHe is spliced intimiatly with you" and it was odd because I kept reading it as She even though the He part stood out. That made it weirder because I am not normally intimate (by choice) with feminie objects, especially diseases. I left without answering many more questions.

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The Illusion of Yellow Wallpaper

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In The University of Yellow Wallpaper, the main focus of this creative hypertext is buried and hard to discover. In the beginning, the reader may believe that it will take them on a story or a bunch of archived anectodes like The Body or a hypertext novel because it describes itself as a "fictionalized critique of the future perfect." But, as the reader begin to follow the many hypertexts links they find the purpose of point of the website hard to find. Between commentary about mirrors and philosophy using phrases such as "temporal dialectic;" pages dedicated to quotes from many sources such as "Roland Barthes" (who describes something that is lost); and brief intervals of what appears to be a story or anecdotes in no particular order, the reader can become entagled in the navigation web and never truely find the meaning to C. E. White's work.

Many times I lost my way in this website and, despite the amount of time I spent surfing through it, I became bored, still haven't found its meaning, and am generally weirded out by the strangness of what I did read like this: "...and yet it pleases me to know that her taboo message made it through." I have yet to figure our what "it" is that pleases main character or what the message is. Perhaps the idea behind this site is discovery laced with confusion.

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An Exploration of The Body

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In The Body, Shelly Jackson draws the reader into her world with anecdotes set up in a way that lets the reader focus their attention on what they want to know. First, using a drawing of her body (naked) with hyperlinks leading from in harmless to the most private parts of her body intrigues the reader into surfing all around her site. Even my friend Stephen is intrigued as I switch from writing this blog to her site.

From the homepage, I chose what part of her body I wanted to learn about and found that not only would she describe that part, but she would tell a story about it and in the story link to other parts of her body that the reader may like to continue on. She describes her nails as "chewed ragged" and continues on to to talk about why eating fruits with those ragged nails made her hate everything slimy.

Jackson isn't a celebrity or anyone that I've heard of before, but she tells stories that range from when she was very young like 5 to her thoughts now. Learning these intimate details about a stranger's life is intriguing and perhaps disturbing. (I stumbled on a link that describes her learning to masturbate.)

I find Jackson's commentary on her body also interesting because I've gone through similar childhood discoveries about my body like walking "barefoot e
very day on the neighbor's gravel driveway." Our motivation was the same, but I had never publicized this event. This makes me as the reader want to examine her website closer, to see if we have any more connections, to see if what I did as child was more or less original than anyone's childhood. Her style of creative hypertext effectively draws in the reader to make them surf around her body, if just for a while.

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Kilian Ex. 4 and 5

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Ex. 4: Make short texts shorter. This was hard because I didn't really understand how to shorten it and I was really frustrated with the text. I couldn't get readiability.info to work and I don't understand where to find fog index on word. I'm also not British so I don't care and I think the texts were written very poorly from the start.

1. It's Your Choice

 

According to Statistics Canada, the average 2001 income for British Columbians with only a grade 12 degree was $25,671. But if you go into the workforce with a university degree, lifetime income will average $735,800 more. Also, work will be:

·         interesting

·         secure

·         you'll be your own boss

 

So, what are your choices as you leave high school?

·         Go into academic post-secondary courses - university or community college

·         Go into the workforce - with the option of returning to school later.

 

Many college career programs require a year or two of academic coursework. If you take academic courses in college, you can transfer to university -- and you'll save money by taking those first years at lower tuition fees.

 

But what if you settle for a college diploma in a career field? StatsCan says that average income will be $33,000. That's less than you'd get with a BA, but pretty good if you love the job.

 

Many career programs now offer degrees like:

·         business

·         administration

·         tourism

·         management

 

You may even have the choice of working while studying part time for a certificate or degree - and once you've got your degree, you can head back to college for a career-program certificate and job-specific skills that allow you more career opportunities.

 

Sometimes we don't have the opportunity because we're:

·         Not rich enough

·         Not interested in academics

·         Living in the wrong place

 

If you think seriously about what you want to do in life, you'll realize you have some options. It's your choice.

 

Ex. 5 Review websites

 

I reviewed National Geographic because I couldn't find any websites on the CD and I figure NG is corporate enough. It was easy to:

  • navigate - headings along top and side
  • find clear actions to take - watch movies, get subscription
  • understand content - kept audiences in mind

Also, it used:

  • bulleted lists - like this one
  • short paragraphs
  • many colorful pictures and links
  • a site index and about page - for further information

Overall, much better than my casual baby site for the moment. Good example of a readable, usable site.

 

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Kilian Ex. 1-3

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What did I learn in exercise 1, 2, and 3? Here are some examples...

Ex. 1: Converting to Bullets

Science fiction evolved from earlier genres adn has ket some of their conventions such as:

  • Isolated Society - island, lost valley, distant planet

Ex. 2: Passive to Active

Critics hail Miles Davis's Sketches of Spain as one of his finest works.

Ex. 3: Anglo-Saxon

Altercation = quarrel, fight, disagreement

Capitulate = surrender, agree

These were more review for me than anything else. I had learned most of this (with the exception of Anglo-Saxon) in high school. Now onto Ex. 4 and 5!

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