02 October 2013

Onward and upward

So yesterday I got out of my sling, and I'm now typing two-handed again, which is soooooooooo much easier: I just couldn't avoid typos one-handed, and spent ages correcting them (which made typing so little fun that I did nothing on this blog for the whole time).

I swore I was going to stop wasting my time, yet I achieved nothing today (apart from doing a few mobilisation exercises to try to get the arm moving again).

Tomorrow I'm going into town (heading to the Jobcentre), so while I'm in I'm going to pick up a few very useful things: a very large pad of paper (a flipchart pad, probably) and some pens for it.

I have two projects that have been hard to get into on a computer left-handed, and the idea of being able to "splurge" my thoughts onto paper in a messy, arbitrary way is quite appealing, cos it's hard to really map out language stuff on computer screen, given that the structures in language are themselves rather messy and arbitrary, and don't really fit tables that well.

So what exactly are these projects?

Project 1: Face-to-face Gaelic course

I've been thinking about teaching a Gaelic course in my quite little Central Scotland village. There's a fair few people here who would be interested (in theory, at least) and I've spoken to one guy who is very keen on it. But it's scary doing the "home gig", where everyone in the crowd is someone you know, and I've always chickened out. However, I'm sitting here with no definite work (there's some possible online teaching in the pipeline) and no unemployment benefits, so it would be nice to get some money coming in, even if it is scary.

What I want to do now is get a map of some of the big patterns in the language and try to see how to teach them in a logical, integrated manner, rather than the normal scattergun approach a lot of courses (in any language) take.

Then I can phone up the caretaker of the local community centre and price up a course, and canvas interest before booking anything.

Project 2: Language learning software

About a year ago, I started prototyping a somewhat ambitious piece of language learning software, which I used to pick up a bit of Corsican while I was living in Corsica. The prototype was a bit of a hack, and every time I upgraded it the software got more and more unwieldy, with every new addition and change taking longer and longer to program in, and taking more and more memory and processor time.

So I've restarted, trying to reduce the memory requirements and increase the modularity of the code, so that changing one thing doesn't start a domino-rally of changes. This also means that it's easier to generalise across languages, so I've been trying to build the latest version in several languages simultaneously.

But last year I promised my (now former) students I'd have an alpha/beta version for them (English for French speakers) and I've lost a lot of time while I did very very little left-hand-only work on the software.

So I've got no choice: I made a promise to get this software going, and I really want to have something useful before Christmas.

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