January 14, 2005

More Emacs evangelization: flashcard

January 14, 2005 - Categories: emacs, japanese, opensource

Aris and I are both struggling with far too much kanji. I used a
combination of kdrill to gain familiarity with kanji and
../emacs/flashcard.el to drill the meaning into my brain, as
flashcard.el requires me to get a question right 5 times in a row
before considering it solved. Aris searched the Internet for flashcard
programs on Windows and played around with things like Kanji Gold and
King Kanji, but couldn’t figure out how to import our wordlist into
them. Kanji Gold looked promising as it also used EDICT, but I
couldn’t figure out the magic number at the end of the dictionary
entry. With over 200 words in our word list, there was no way we were
going to enter those things one by one!

I told him to download Emacs and grab Jorgen Schaefer’s flashcard.el
from my ../emacs directory. I then grabbed the dictionary file that
Kanji Gold couldn’t recognized, replaced [ with : to get flashcard to
recognize it without problems, then set up a deck for him. I tweaked
the default faces a bit—they’re horrible on light-colored displays. I
copied the suggested feedback config and explained the pigeonhole
method to him. I tweaked the checking function so that it checked for
substrings and treated empty input as a definitely incorrect answer.
He wanted the answers displayed all the time, so I coded that in as
well.

The initial word list was too big, so I copied 9 words and put them
into a file, then imported them into a deck. Later, when he finishes
this deck, I’ll show him how to create another colon file and import it.
I’ll also ask him if he wants to tweak the number of compartments.

He’s asked me if I can get YM working in the text editor as well. I’m
currently tunneled through Richi’s host, but I think I can open a
local tunnel for him as well, if he feels like using ERC. ‘course,
normal YM just might work, and chances are there’s a YM-specific
client somewhere in Emacs.

I’ve made no efforts to hide Emacs’ complexity. I lean over and drop
into Lisp code in front of him because I want him to have a working
environment up and running as soon as possible. Who knows? Maybe he’ll
use Emacs even after the internship. =)

He looks like he’s having fun, and certainly appreciates the fact that
I can hack the editor to fit how he wants to do things. He wants to
match the readings, too, which means I’ll need to figure out how leim
works under Windows. I’ll do that on Monday.

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