Adonis Diaries

Archive for March 3rd, 2014

Speed reading: How and what for?

Why would you care to speed read?

Would care reading an Entire Harry Potter Book In Under 90 Minutes?

Would feel happy if your adviser read your entire thesis in a few minutes?

Would feel happy if your publisher read your draft manuscript in 3 minutes?

Are you planing to become a politician and flip quickly through thick reports?

What speed reading gives you is a really high speed of word in-take. It doesn’t make the processing of those words any faster. It’s like connecting a huge data pipe to a 486 processor. (see note 1)

Apparently there is this App that will train you to speed read.

Alexis Kleinman posted in The Huffington Post this Feb. 27, 2014

Main Entry Image

To get through the book that quickly (a pace of 1,000 words a minute) you’ll have to use an about-to-be released app and forgo the idea of reading page by page.

With Spritz, which is coming to the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Samsung Gear 2 watch, words appear one at a time in rapid succession.

This allows you to read at speeds of between 250 and 1,000 words per minute. The typical college-level reader reads at a pace of between 200 and 400 a minute. (Even with a PhD degree and being a voracious reader, I don’t think that I enjoy reading faster than 100 words per minute)

Try reading this at 250 wpm:

Pretty easy, right? Now you can bump up the speed to 350 wpm:

After you have 350 wpm mastered, try 500 wpm below:

Spritz goes all the way up to 1,000 wpm, but there isn’t a visual for that yet.

Spritz isn’t the first to suggest reading one word at a time.

Apps like Velocity show the reader one word at a time in quick succession, allowing for much faster reading. And another speed reading method, works almost the same way: Rapid serial visual presentation, or RSVP, has been around for years and has proven to be successful for many.

The one-word-at-a-time technology is particularly good for smaller devices like smartphones and smartwatches. No more scrolling, zooming or pinching.

Boston-based Spritz, which says its been in Stealth Modefor nearly 3 years, is working on licensing its technology to software developers, ebook makers and even wearables.

Here’s a little bit more about how it works: In every word you read, there is an “Optimal Recognition Point” or ORP. This is also called a “fixation point.”

The “fixation point” in every word is generally immediately to the left of the middle of a word, explains Kevin Larson, of Microsoft’s Advanced Reading Technologies team.

As you read, your eyes hop from fixation point to fixation point, often skipping significantly shorter words.

“After your eyes find the ORP, your brain starts to process the meaning of the word that you’re viewing,” Spritz explains on its website.

Spritz indicates the ORP by making it red, and positions each word so that the ORP is at the same point, so your eyes don’t have to move. That’s what makes it different from RSVP speed reading, which just shows you words in rapid succession with no regard to the ORP.

Here’s a graphic that shows how Spritz keeps your eyes still while reading:

spritz reading

(In Spritz, the red characters are aligned vertically).

H/T viiviwagner on Imgur

Note 1: On February 13, 2006, Manish Bansal posted on Opinion

Why I don’t like speed reading.

Speed reading is a method of reading wherein you can achieve really high reading speeds using techniques like word assimilation, skimming, removing subvocalization and controlling eye movement etc.

Some people even claim to achieve reading speed of 1000 words per minutes, with 100% comprehension!

I am not a slow reader but, hell, who can resist 1000 wpm reading speeds?

So I tried this speed reading thing but couldn’t really see any real gains. My brain would hurt and I was not able to sleep at night after a speed reading session.

Here is why this thing doesn’t work.

What we call reading is actually made up of two parts – words in-take + processing.

What speed reading gives you is a really high speed of word in-take. It doesn’t make the processing of those words any faster. It’s like connecting a huge data pipe to a 486 processor.

The processor works at its own pace while the data sits there waiting to be processed. And that buffer storage space is limited. As long as the old data is there, you can’t do any more reading.

You can’t read physics faster and you don’t want to read novels faster. Kind of a lose-lose situation.

So you can either read slowly and process the data at the same time or cram in huge chunks of data into your buffer and let the brain do its thing at its own pace. I prefer the former method, at least for the joy of reading that it gives me.

Note 2: I have a few questions:

1. If the eyes don’t move, how can this method overlap to be able to view an entire scene (environment) better than ordinary persons or much quicker?

2. At least reading word by word is better than believing that you have read an entire page by letting your eyes roam vertically in the middle of the page.

The Moguls entered Syria: Before and after historical heritage in Pictures

In the last 3 decades, anywhere the US disregarded to resume its engagement and getting involved in a troubled countries, shit hit the fan.

In Afghanistan and Pakistan, the US gave Saudi Arabia the green light to handle these 2 troubled States after the Soviet troops vacated Afghanistan in 1989. The obscurantist Wahhabi religious brand of the Saudis were disseminated, billion of dollars poured in to build mosques and religious schools with Wahhabi clergymen running them.

In 2002, after the US defeated Taliban and turned its attention to conquer Iraq, Saudi Wahhabis resumed their obscurantist behaviors in Afghanistan and Pakistan and aided Taliban to regain lost territories in the mind of the people.

After the US was forced to vacate Iraq, redeafing Taliban was a much harder job to assume.

When the Berlin Wall fell, Saudi Wahhabi lavished the same kinds of aids in Chechnya and created the fanatic Islamist insurgents against Russia.

The same process were taking place in Sudan, Somalia, south Yemen, Algeria, Nigeria and the sub-Sahara poor States.

Iraq of Saddam, Syria of Hafez Assad and Libya of Qadhafi stood fast and deflected the dissemination of Saudi Wahhabi influence.

Just a single year after the US entered Baghdad, Saudi extremists infiltrated the Anbar and Salah Eddin provinces with Sunni majority, the same provinces that the current Iraqi government is trying to wipe out militarily these Daesh salafists, a faction of the Nusra and Qaeda movement.

Immediately after Qadhafi fell, Libya was handed over to these extremists elements. The same is going on in Tunisia, Mali, Chad, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen.

It is the turn of Syria to suffer the calamity inflicted by the Wahhabi obscurantist religious brand. All these “mujaheddin” were denied re-entry into their homeland and were channeled to converge into Syria.

The same process of denying re-entry to any Moslem who fought in a “foreign land” is being currently applied eveywhere, from England, France, Belgium, USA, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Chechnya…

Historical heritage in Syria, sleepy tree-lined boulevards where people lived and worked, time-worn markets where they came to trade and exquisitely detailed mosques where, throughout the ages, they prayed.

The war in Syria has claimed more than 130,000 lives and, as these images reveal, it is also laying waste to its historic buildings and Unesco-listed sites

 published in The Guardian this Jan. 26, 2014

Syria’s heritage in ruins: before-and-after pictures

Umayyad mosque

Omayyad mosque, Aleppo – pictured in 2012, before fighting destroyed it in 2013. Photograph: Alamy

All now stand in ruins, ravaged by a war that is not only killing generations of Syrians but also eradicating all around them, including sites that have stood since the dawn of civilisation.

Across Syria, where a seemingly unstoppable war is about to enter a third year, a heritage built over 5,000 years or more is being steadily buried under rubble.

The Old Souk in Aleppo

The Old Souk, Aleppo. Above in 2007 and below in 2013. Photographs: Corbis, Stanley Greene/Noor/Eyevine

The destruction of towns and villages is regularly revealed by raw, and often revolting, videos uploaded to the web, which many people stopped watching long ago.

Only seldom do the shaky images reveal the damage being done beyond the battle – to ancient churches, stone Crusader fortresses and ruins that have stood firm during several millennial of insurrection and purge but are being withered away by this unforgiving war.

At least two million of its citizens have fled into neighbouring states and more than two million others have been displaced within its borders.

Industry and economy has long ground to a halt. Hope too has been on a relentless slide. Syria has six Unesco sites, representing at least 2,000 years of history. All have been damaged.

Al-Kindi hospital in Aleppo

al-Kindi hospital, Aleppo. Above in 2012 and below in 2013. Photographs: Getty

These before and after pictures show the old world order of Syria reflected for decades in history books; where people bought wares in marketplaces or mingled in mosque courtyards.

They also reveal the shocking scale of devastation in all corners of the country and the damage done to Syria’s soul and identity.

In Aleppo, one of the oldest covered marketplaces in the world is now in ruins; its maze of stone streets has been one of the most intense battlefields in the country for the past 18 months, bombed from above by air force jets and chipped away at ground level by close quarter battles that show no sentiment towards heritage.

Those who dare raise their heads above the ruins, towards the ancient citadel that stands at the centre of the city, can also see damage to several of its walls.

A street in Homs, Syria in 2011 and 2014

A street in Homs, in 2011 (above) and 2014 (below)

Several hundred miles south, just west of Syria’s third city, Homs, one of the most important medieval castles in the world, Krak des Chevaliers, has taken an even heavier toll. Directly struck by shells fired from jets and artillery, the hilltop fortress now stands in partial ruin.

Homs itself has fared even worse.

A residential street, where cars not long ago parked under gum trees, has been destroyed. Life has ceased to function all around this part of the city, as it has in much of the heartland of the country. In one shot, a destroyed tank stands in the centre of a street. The old minaret next to it has also been blown up.

This photograph is thought to have been taken in the countryside near Hama, to the north of Homs. But it could just as easily encapsulate the damage done in parts of the capital, Damascus, or in towns and villages from Idlib in the north to Deraa in the south, where the first stirrings of insurrection in March 2011 sparked the war.

Omari Mosque in Deraa

Omari mosque in Deraa. Above in 2011 and below in 2013. Photographs: Reuters

In May 2012, Emma Cunliffe, a Durham University PhD student, and member of the Global Heritage Network, prepared a report on the damage done to Syria’s heritage sites, detailing the tapestry of civilisations that helped build contemporary Syria.

“Numerous bronze-age civilisations left their successive marks, including the Babylonians, the Assyrians and the Hittites,” she said. “They, in turn, were replaced by the Greeks, the Sasanians, the Persians, the Romans and the Arabs, many of whom chose Syrian cities as their capitals. The European Crusaders came and left some of the most impressive castles known and the Ottoman Empire also made its mark. All these cultures co-existed and conflicted, forming something new and special and found nowhere else in the world.

Souk Bab Antakya in Aleppo

Souq Bab Antakya, Aleppo. Above in 2009 and below after an attack in 2012. Photographs: Alamy, Reuters

Speaking this week, she said the threat to Syria’s heritage was now greater than ever.

“Archaeological sites in Syria are often on the front lines of conflict and are experiencing heavy damage. Economic hardship and decreased security mean even sites away from the fighting are looted. This is denying not only Syrians but the world a rich heritage which can provide a source of income and inspiration in the future.”

With little or no access to the country, satellite imagery is being used to track the destruction.

The Global Heritage Fund’s director of Global Projects, Dan Thompson said: “All of the country’s world heritage sites have sustained damage, including the Unesco site cities, and a great many of the other monuments in the country have been damaged, destroyed or have been subject to severe looting.

Umayyad Mosque in Aleppo

Umayyad mosque, Aleppo, pictured in 2012 (above) and 2013 (below). Photographs: Alamy, Corbis

“Shelling, shooting, heavy machinery installed in sites, and major looting are the leading causes of damage and destruction to the sites, although I would not discount that vandalism is also playing a part. As far as we know, no concrete action is being taken to combat the damage in the present moment.”




March 2014

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