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Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

Noupe.comMany decades ago, we spent a long weekend in a Lotus 1-2-3 workshop. By Saturday night we were experts on everything spreadsheet.

Now we’re wishing for a weekend seminar on Photoshop…but the local community college is putting all its continuing ed energy into…no kidding…Introduction to Facebook! Become a Mystery Shopper! Cupid’s Cuisine! Sigh.

lynda.comSo we’re finding ourselves having to create our own weekend Photoshop workshops. Fortunately, these workshops are free, and allow us to attend class in our underpants. For print tutorials, we’ve become quite fond of Noupe, and for video tutorials, we’re growing even more enamoured of Lynda. Both resources provide intensive, Adobe-in-a-Can delivery of knowledge by folks who seem pretty knowledgable about their product. Time to dive in now. We won’t come up for air until we’re experts!

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Weather UndergroundEver wonder where the weatherman gets his information? “Yesterday’s low was xx degrees, two degrees below our record, set back in 1948, of xx+2 degrees.” I mean, you can’t just know this stuff, right?

Turns out, you can. Courtesy of Weather Underground, the free weather resource that predicts tomorrow’s climate, and records yesterday’s. After typing in your zip code — sorry, people of Mozambique and Madagascar; your weather isn’t good enough to track — scroll down to the History & Almanac heading, and read up on hour-by-hour weather, any day in history. Assuming, that is, that history started in 1931.

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The OWL at Purdue

Online Writing Lab

It’s finals week for the college kids, and they’re frantically dashing off papers and sitting exams. Mom’s helping the essay writers, natch’, by being harder on them than their own English professors would be. And I’m insisting that their papers reflect perfect MLA style.

My go-to place for online MLA style arguments: The MLA style guide page from the OWL at Purdue. It’s just one of dozens of OWL writing resources that every parent of a high school- or college-aged student should have available.

Honestly, how often do we get to prove we’re smarter than our teenagers?

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Google EarthStill doing way too much research, and way too little writing, on my new novel. Google Earth is proving invaluable (or distracting. I’m not sure which). Where before I might have driven (or flown) to the place I was researching, now I can pretty much Google Earth it and get at least a sense of what a particular street corner might look like, or whether an area of the town I’m describing is rural or suburban.

Oh, and whether my daughter was out playing in the neighborhood when she was supposed to be home with her older brother, practicing the piano.  She goes on record as the first child in history to get in trouble because of Google Earth Street View.

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OCR Terminal

OCR Terminal

In the course of researching this year’s NaNoWriMo novel, I’ve been undertaking a fair bit of research. What I’ve discovered is that scanned-in text images are a bear to work with; I much prefer straight, simple text. I’ve been most grateful this month for the services of OCRTerminal, a groovy little tool that slurps up .jpg files or .pdf files, reads them, and converts them to text. It outputs page contents as pure text, if you like, or it can maintain formatting by outputting it as Word files, RTF files, or XML files. What a find!

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Blue Letter Bible

The great thing about the Blue Letter Bible isn’t the large number of English translations, or the commentaries, or the links to related hymns — though those are all excellent.  The wonder of BLB is the lexicon and concordance, which renders verses in Hebrew and Greek with transliterations and word-for-word translations to English.

See, for example, the lexicon entry for James 1:5 — “If any of you lack sophia, wisdom…”

Good stuff from the Good Book. If you know of other good religion resources, do tell! The Comments link invites you to share your sophia.

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Did you know that Wicca is on track to be the US’ third-largest religion by 2012? Or that of the ten largest religious groups in the United States, only Catholicism is older than Mormonism? That’s right. Southern Baptists were organized fifteen years after the LDS church, and two years before the Lutheran’s Missouri Synod. None of the other top ten were organized until 1897 or later.

How do I know? Adherents.com is a compilation of some 43,000 records documenting the membership of more than 4,200 religious faiths. It’s fascinating stuff, and will shatter some of your long-held assumptions about who believes what.

Tell me about your own favorite religion resource, won’t you? Just click that Comments link, below.

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