Languages Blog - Most Recent Posts

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7/9/2016 - Synonyms for the word "Antifragile" (English)
12/12/2015 - Links: Buffalo buffalo, etc. (English)
12/9/2015 - Links: "Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den" poem (Chinese)
12/31/2013 - How to Log into Livemocha's Legacy Site (Tip)
8/30/2012 - My 3rd Livemocha Summer Challenge Video
8/17/2012 - My 2nd Livemocha Summer Challenge Video
8/8/2012 - My 1st Livemocha Summer Challenge Video
7/11/2012 - For Language-Learners: Livemocha Summer Challenge - Ends August 31, 2012


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Synonyms for the word "Antifragile"
Saturday, July 9th, 2016
20:49:33 GMT


Last edited July 10, 2016 at 1:05 AM EDT.

One of the best books I read in 2015 (or, ever) was Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

I was recently reminded of this book by the fact that my Toughbook CF-C1 overheated and crashed yet again. (Clearly I need to stop leaving so many web browser tabs open.)

But, at least this annoyance was a pleasant reminder of the antifragility of (and resulting from) my Puppy Linux Setup Kit. :-)

Crashes actually benefit my setup kit, because they give me some additional good reasons to stop procrastinating about enhancing my setup kit.

And, thanks to my setup kit, I'm able to recover quickly from not only relatively minor crashes which only require a reboot, but also from serious hardware breakdowns which would require me to switch to a totally different computer, which would be a far more inconvenient disruption if I were still dependent on an OS installed on a hard disk.

I can switch to another computer pretty much seamlessly and have everything back to normal in minutes. It's tremendously nicer than having to slowly rebuild a broken Windows system by manually reinstalling Windows along with all my lost Windows software.

A while back, I thought of a possibly good synonym for the word "antifragile". At least, it's hopefully clear enough if you're a Star Wars fan. But, in case it's a spoiler, I won't say exactly the word I have in mind.

This page from the Movies & TV Stack Exchange explains the famous scene from one of the Star Wars movies that made me think of this idea.

Other possible rough synonyms include phoenix-like or hydra-like.

I had trouble thinking of many more synonyms, though. Which sort of makes me wish I already automated the addition of comment sections to my blog posts.

Click this link to display the blog comment thread hosted at the Eryss.Com Forum:

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Links: Buffalo buffalo, etc.
Saturday, December 12th, 2015
18:31:41 GMT


Supposedly this is a grammatically correct English sentence:

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

Amusing, though a bit hard to believe. But hey, it was in Wikipedia, the encyclopedia that can be edited by anyone, so it must be true. :-)

Even this video makes more sense. :-)

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Links: "Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den" poem
Wednesday, December 9th, 2015
18:43:41 GMT


About 20 minutes ago, I stumbled across this amusing poem in Chinese, written exclusively in characters pronounced "shi" (with different tones):

Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den

And here's a blog post I found with an in-depth analysis, at a blog called A Cup of Fine Tea:

“Shi and the Ten Stone Lions”: Riddle or Nonsense?

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How to Log into Livemocha's Legacy Site
Tuesday, December 31st, 2013
05:43:52 GMT


(Edit, 1:52 AM. Sorry, I put the wrong URL originally. It's corrected now.)

The short version of this post:

Go to, and you can log into the legacy Livemocha site from there.

(At least until the Livemocha legacy site is shut down, probably in early January 2014.)

The unnecessarily long version of this post:

This blog post might go out of date pretty quickly, because according to a Livemocha email I got:

"To focus our energy on making the new website better than ever, we will be shutting down the legacy site in early January 2014."

What a shame! I hate it when companies get bought and then good products get discontinued or ruined. Yet another reason to detest anything that's closed source instead of free, libre, and open source.

Anyway, earlier this evening, for the first time in maybe a year, I tried to log into, and I had great difficulty doing so.

When I tried to log in with Linux, the website said:

"Linux Support Coming Soon!

Visit us from your Mac or PC to access the full Livemocha experience. We can't wait to see you there!"

So, I tried it from both real Windows XP and Windows XP in VirtualBox*, and at first it said "Loading...", but then left me stuck on a blank screen.

Almost defeated, I tried logging in via someone's horrid MacBook. (Here's Richard Stallman's great page on Why you should not buy Apple computer products.)

That failed at first, and (if I recall correctly) said something about my email address not having an account, then redirected me to this address:

At that URL, I was able to log in with that MacBook. And, when I tried that same URL in Linux and Windows XP, I found I could log in with both of them, though I couldn't do the lessons in Linux, because I couldn't upgrade to a high enough version of Flash.

This tip will probably soon become useless, whenever the legacy Livemocha site is finally shut down.

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My 3rd Livemocha Summer Challenge Video
Thursday, August 30th, 2012
04:10:50 GMT

Here it is:

Apollia's 3rd Livemocha Summer Challenge Video - 8/29/2012

Info about the Livemocha Summer Challenge: For Language-Learners: Livemocha Summer Challenge - Ends August 31, 2012

My narration is again not particularly entertaining, but, I think this video's topic is the most interesting of all 3 videos.

I talked a bit about French text adventure games (also known as interactive fiction) and how to get started playing them.

Basically, you just need some text adventure game files (you can get some in French here or in English here, among other places), and some interpreter software to open the game files with.

The interpreter Windows Frotz is useful to language learners since it has copy and paste, but I also like Gargoyle when I don't need copy and paste. Gargoyle plays many different types of IF games, while Frotz plays only Z-code games.

If you're new to interactive fiction (IF) games, or have little idea what commands can be used in French IF, you can download English and French versions of an intro to IF at

Other useful IF links:

A page in French about French IF:

The awesome public domain music from I used this time was Polonaise in A major, Op. 40, No. 1, composed by Frédéric François Chopin (1810-1849) and performed by Felipe Sarro.

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My 2nd Livemocha Summer Challenge Video
Friday, August 17th, 2012
20:09:44 GMT

Here it is:

Apollia's 2nd Livemocha Summer Challenge Video - 8/17/2012

Info about the Livemocha Summer Challenge: For Language-Learners: Livemocha Summer Challenge - Ends August 31, 2012

In my video, I mentioned:

Like my other video, my narration is pretty boring. But, again like my other video, at least this video has awesome public domain music from :-)

This time, I used Etude No. 1 in A Flat Major, Op. 25, composed by Frédéric François Chopin (1810-1849), and played by Donald Betts.

Etude No. 1 in A Flat Major, Op. 25 is nicknamed "The Shepherd Boy" and "Aeolian Harp" for reasons explained in this Wikipedia article.

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My 1st Livemocha Summer Challenge Video
Wednesday, August 8th, 2012
03:37:54 GMT

Well, I changed my mind again and decided to release the video after all. Might as well not let all that work go to waste.

Apollia's 1st Livemocha Summer Challenge Video - 8/7/2012

Sorry, I guess I just had an attack of stage fright before. Don't know why I'm feeling braver now.

There are no visuals of me, but, my undisguised voice is in it, speaking French pretty much the entire time (except terms like "Windows XP" and "Puppy Linux"). I demonstrated the French<->English Web Browsing/Translation frames.

I think the best things about this video are the things that aren't by me - especially the lovely public domain music I got from, composed by French composer Erik Satie and performed by Peter Johnston.

However, even though my narration is boring and I'm not sure it's all correct French - the video might still help people by introducing them to the translation frames, which are really useful. And, it will help me get a 1-year Livemocha gold key.

So, I guess it's worth releasing. I'm relieved I only have to make 2 more to win the Livemocha Summer Challenge. Making this video was a lot more work than I thought it would be, especially since I have so little experience working with video, and my French is quite far from fluent.

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For Language-Learners: Livemocha Summer Challenge - Ends August 31, 2012
Wednesday, July 11th, 2012
10:39:08 GMT

If you're interested in learning a foreign language, you might be interested in the Livemocha Summer Challenge, which you can read about in Livemocha's blog:

Take the Livemocha Summer Challenge – Get an All Access Gold Key

In summary - you can get a one year all-access Gold Key pass (normally $99) for the Livemocha language-learning website just by submitting a minimum of 5 videos (Update, 7/18/2012: Now only 3 videos!) before the end of August, each from 1 to 5 minutes long, which describe how you've been keeping your language fresh, and contain examples of you speaking your target language. And I assume the videos probably have to be submitted one per week instead of all in one batch. So, you probably shouldn't procrastinate too long to get started, otherwise you might not be able to win.

And, if I understand the challenge properly, it looks like you can win just by submitting your videos, without having to have any of your videos be selected as the best video of the week.

Happily, I don't see anything in the rules that insists that you have to actually put yourself on camera.

So, maybe I'll actually do the challenge myself using other visuals, and maybe an altered version of my voice. Or maybe not.

I haven't even decided definitely yet on what language(s) I want to learn, since I haven't yet decided what countries I might want to go to someday. Maybe I'll figure it out soon. Or maybe I'll just pick French temporarily just to do the challenge, since I know a little French already, and I found it the easiest of any foreign language I ever tried to learn.

This post is not a paid ad and doesn't contain an affiliate link or anything like that - I just wanted to point the challenge out, since it looks like you have to do so relatively little to win, it's almost like a freebie, and I might participate in the challenge myself.

My only connection with Livemocha is that I've been a Livemocha customer since January, though I've been quite lazy with my studies.

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