April 3, 2008

What would Ben Franklin do?

I have been growing increasingly frustrated with Rosetta Stone for trying to learn Japanese (you've seen the kiosks at the mall, I'm sure) as I enjoy the immersive method in theory, but I have a heck of a time trying to figure out what the pictures actually mean in practice. After enough repetition, I can learn by rote memory, but I don't really understand what they're showing me. Are they telling me that the dog is jumping or running? Is the boy falling or tripping? Are the women walking or dancing? Beats the heck out of me, I just learn the words that go with the picture, but really that's not viable in the long term. Let's not mention that Rosetta Stone costs about $350 if you buy it at the store (my local library offers the online version for free; many do, you should check yours if you're interested).

After a suggestion from peeja in irc last week, I took another look at JapanesePod101.com, which I had in my podcast list but hadn't really given serious thought. It's pretty amazing, actually. All of their podcasts (oh, about 4GB worth) are available for download for free, but they have a tremendous amount of education material available if you give them some money (subscription-based). It really does seem to be worthwhile after listening to some of their podcasts, it's rare you find something that justifies the cost. I'm definitely going to ditch RS and switch over here. If you dig some more on their website, you find there's a whole team behind it, from developers to "on air" talent, so I don't expect it to vanish.

I do also enjoy the podcasts from Japancast.net, mentioned a couple of posts ago. Yes, I did finally solve my forum problem. It's there, but hidden. Very well hidden. Here's a hint, if you have Flash disabled, you can't find it. Heck, even with Flash enabled, it's pretty hard to find. That said, it's clear it's a labor of love from a couple who aren't in it for the money. Sure, you can donate, but it's more a way of saying "thank you" than to recoup development costs. It bothered me, when listening to one of their podcasts a few weeks ago, to hear that they'd received some critical feedback about the amateur nature of their podcasts. Gah.

It reminds me of the people that come into the Camino forums or send us email blasting us for this or that. Hello!? Do you see an overpaid development staff? That's right, we don't have one. It's about doing something we love, not about the Benjamins. Why do some people just not get that? I hope Paul and Hitomi keep podcasting and just ignore all the idiots. They are few and far between, but they seem to stick in your mind more than the thousands of well-wishers. You just gotta focus on the positive.

(Seriously, I haven't donated my house to the local animal shelter nor have I taken up herding alpacas.)

Posted by pinkerton at April 3, 2008 10:00 PM | TrackBack