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Category: Tech

Rosetta Stone Is A Good Supplement But Not Primary Way To Learn A New Language

Rosetta Stone is kind of the lumbering dinosaur of online language learning. It’s been around since 1992 and in a lot of ways hasn’t changed much although the interface is a bit clunky, moving slow when comes to language learning, can be effective.

Back To Basics

Rosetta Stone has been used by the US Army, Air Force, State Department, and several universities to provide intensive 16 week language courses. Rosetta Stone covers a number of popular languages and you can sign up for a single language for a 11.99 monthly subscription which is billed once every 3 months, or get access to all of Rosetta Stone’s languages for one lifetime payment of $299.

rosetta stone mobile

Once you sign up, Rosetta will ask you your current level – whether you’re a novice, intermediate, or advanced user but one feature I wish were available here is a test to gauge your abilities. We all know what a complete beginner is but maybe you know a few words or phrases, or have had previous exposure, a comprehension test to place you exactly where you need to be would be great.

Language lessons are broken down into 6 week courses, with a planned 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week. Each daily class is broken down further into 5 and 10 minute reading, speaking, and comprehension lessons. And if you don’t have time to do a full 30 minutes, you can take things at a slower pace, maybe just getting in one 10 minute lesson when you’re busier.

Language Lesson Crafting

There is a lot of repetition, which slows the pace but personally I find helps me to remember what I’m learning even though I sometimes want to speed though some of the lessons I feel are a bit easier. For example, you’re read a word, you match the picture, then Rosetta Stone repeats back the correct response. Both the frequent repetition and the images are useful in creating associations in your brain.

rosetta stone

Whereas comparing this to Duolingo, those are shorter lessons without visual cues so you really need to maintain a high frequency of lessons to make sure you can remember the vocabulary. With Duolingo you’re exposed to a lot of words in a short time, whereas Rosetta is very focused on making sure you learn the fundamentals before moving on.

Getting Scored

There’s also no offline mode although there are some language companions, like simple stories and vocabulary you can download separately, a fully fledged offline mode would be a great feature for long flights or subway commutes. Now, when you finish a lesson, you’re given a score and can go back for shoot for 100% or continue on to the next day’s lesson. There’s no reminders or notifications, Rosetta Stone is like a college class that doesn’t grade on attendance, how much time you decide to dedicate is up to you.

Although Rosetta Stone is not pretty, and the apps aren’t great, and it won’t reminder you to sign on or give you a streak to beat, if you’re a visual learner, it’s a good tool for vocabulary learning and fundamental grammar. Rosetta Stone uses images to guide you through learning a language without using English – which is a good thing – but it requires a lot of self motivation.

Also, being more of a classroom A then B then C structure might not appeal to everyone. I think though if you’re just starting out with a language and want to learn the basics, then Rosetta Stone lays a very good foundation, one that you’ll retain for longer, and can build upon. You’re also forced to speak and evaluated on pronunciation, giving it an interactive edge. A 3 month subscription will give you just enough time to complete two entire lesson plans, which in theory will get you to some intermediate concepts. There’s no doom-scrolling but rather a set goal post you can aim for in your language lessons.

The Fluentalk T1 Mini Translator May Solve All Your Language Problems When Traveling

We all dream of a future shown Star Trek where a tiny device called a universal translator helps alien species all communicate with one another. You speak in your language, they hear in their and vice versa. The T1 Mini isn’t quite that but a solid step in the right direction.


The T1 Mini Translator is a small, rectangular device that comes in white measuring 91 × 55 × 13 mm and weighing 86 grams. Powering the internals are a gigabyte of ram with 8GB of storage and a QuadCore ARM 1.28 Ghz chip. Around the back there’s a 5 megapixel camera used for translating text on things like menus, plus a few buttons for power, volume, and a single translate button. The hardware layout is simple and straightforward and while the software experience isn’t quite as smooth, it works well once you get past the short learning curve.

The specs aren’t anything that will blow you away but you’re not using this screen to watch videos and boot up time is almost painfully slow. Once it does fire up though the T1 Mini has a singular focus, and that is to translate.

Talking Translations

Downloaded on to the device for offline use are 13 languages pairs, including English to Chinese, French, and Spanish. You can download a few more languages like Korean, Japanese, and German for additional offline use.

timekettle t1 mini translator

When the T1 mini is connected to WiFi however, that gives you access to 36 languages with 88 dialects, from Bulgarian to Turkish to Swedish. Embedded in the T1 mini is also a non-removable SIM card and when you buy one of these, you get a year’s worth of free mobile data to support translating, meaning across 84 countries, the T1 Mini will work with build-in cellular connection. When that connection period ends, you can top off for another year through Timekettle for about $45 dollars a year or simply use the device with WiFi only.

Push Of A Button

Setting your two languages, say, English and Spanish, the T1 Mini will automatically detect the language being spoken when you push the translate button. You speak in English and it will spit out Spanish. The other person speaks in Spanish and you get English. The T1 mini does a good job of translating too and from English, which is one of it’s “core” languages. I’m going to guess it’s good translating to and from Chinese as well, between French, Japanese, and German, one of these 13 language pairs it stores offline.

t1 mini translator

But when it comes to translating two non-core languages, like Swedish to Turkish, it falters fairly often. It seems to have trouble translating between Arabic and say, Korean, in my testing, so there is work to be done there.

When it comes to translating languages with the camera, it’s pretty good, even across less common fonts, the kind you’ll find on menus, and cafe signs. The translation is pretty quick, almost always less than a second, both with the visual and written text, so the experience is a smooth one, even if the translation isn’t always perfect.

Alternatives To The T1

You could use your phone and download languages offline using Google Translate or a similar app, but this translator is a lot less expensive than your phone which you might not want to take out everywhere. In a office setup where you’re traveling for business the T1 Mini could come in handy or if your in-laws are visiting from another country, for example. It’s a device you could leave in a room without having to commit your physical smartphone.

Overall, the T1 Mini is a useful tool if you’re traveling somewhere and don’t know the local lingo, so this device can help you bridge the language gap, in some languages better than others. It’s definitely a big jump forward in translating hardware and software which will only get better from here.

Cleer ARC II Sport Earbuds Review: Wireless That Hovers Close To Contactless

The ARC II are the second generation of wireless sports earbuds by Cleer – they’re overall an improvement on the previous version with one flaw they share in common.

Built For The Gym

Competing in the mid-to-premium range the Cleer ARC II come in a fabric charging case that measures approximately 11 x 8 x 2 centimeters and weighs 130 grams with the earbuds inside. The ARC II come in red and black versions, and you get a modest 27 hours of battery life from the case and each earbud has about 8 hours on a full charge.

Inside the case though, just behind the earbuds, Cleer have also added a UV light to kill bacteria and sterilize the earbuds. The light is focused on the back of the earbuds that have the most contact with the inside of your ear – so it’s not sterilizing them completely, but it’s a nice touch, especially for earbuds covered in your sweat.

cleer arc ii

The ARC II are also IPX5 rated, which means they’re waterproof against light splashes of water and sweat, so they should be fine if you go running in light rain.

Open Ear Design

When you put the ARC II on, they distribute all of their 14 grams well. The hook that rests over your ear takes on a lot of the weight but isn’t the most flexible and the back end of it is a bit heavy. Usually earbuds don’t have electronics in this part of the design, it’s just rubber and plastic. But since the ARC II are open – meaning they don’t touch your ear canal, some of that weight has to be distributed in the hook so they balance well on your ear.

Not having earbuds in your actual ears makes for a very comfortable listening experience and a unique one. First, you hear everything around you but the SnapDragon sound, which gives you some spatial audio, does a good job of not making the inside and outside feel jarring.

cleer arc ii

The sound quality is crisp, with impressive bass, and surprisingly good audio quality, considering these earbuds aren’t physically blocking out external sounds. Using the Cleer + app you can also adjust EQ and set the touch pad controls from their defaults, single tap to play and pause, double tap for the next track, or triple to go back. A press and hold on the right increases volume, while a press and hold on the left decreases it.

In the Cleer + app, you can set motion controls, so you can use your head to take and reject calls or scroll through music (a feature that works inconsistently).

The Pain Point

Overall though, the ARC II have made me a fan of the open back earbud design when it comes to sports earbuds. There are advantages of being able to hear the world around you, runners this is great outdoors, and there’s less fatigue on your ears by not having something sticking into them. The ARC II are more comfortable than most sport earbuds but can fatigue your ears quickly after an hour or two, limiting the amount of time you can use them in one go.

The Best VPNs For Travel (Updated: 2023)

Virtual private networks (VPNs) have become essential software, especially for travelers. It’s estimated that in 2022, the VPN market was worth 44 billion dollars, and with the money poured into advertising it can be tricky to decide on the best on for you.

Fortunately, I, someone with a background in cybersecurity and is traveling to every country in the world have used and tested a lot of VPNs. These are some of the best VPNs I can recommend to you based on how fast, secure, versatile, and privacy conscious they are. None of these solutions are perfect and as companies do, they are bound to change. But, you know what to look out for, now, going forward.

1. ExpressVPN


ExpressVPN is a good blend of privacy – they are very clear on the logs they do not keep and do not store connection logs. Independent audits are conducted and published to this effect and in 2017 when Turkish authorities seized ExpressVPN servers, there were no logs, and this includes metadata logs.

ExpressVPN also has the fastest connection speeds I’ve found during my use and works especially well in China.

2. NordVPN


Where ExpressVPN has speed, it is more expensive. NordVPN keeps minimal logs, only maintaining your encrypted login credentials and billing information. Both NordVPN’s desktop and mobile apps are very simple to set up and forget, and if you don’t get the added cloud storage or password manager, is about half the price of ExpressVPN.

NordVPN, in my opinion, is the most user friendly – good for people who are new to VPNs or aren’t going to muck around in the settings.

3. ProtonVPN


Finally, there’s ProtonVPN. It’s a Swiss-based VPN that has a large number of servers, blocks trackers, and has a secure core feature which passes your internet traffic from a VPN server through servers in privacy-friendly countries. ProtonVPN is also a no-logs VPN, confirmed by independent audits they’ve published but it’s not the most user friendly or the fastest and connections can be inconsistent. For tech-inclined people it’s great but ProtonVPN might not be the best for everyone.

Narrowing It Down

I think when given the choice between these three, if you are tech-inclined, you’re probably going to really like ExpressVPN or ProtonVPN. ProtonVPN has additional features for enhanced privacy, if that’s your primary concern. NordVPN is a good choice if you just want the VPN to run, work, then you forget about it.

Duolingo Is A Good Start To Learning Language But Not The Final Step

Duolingo is a popular language learning site and app that comes with the very good price of free, unless you don’t count time. You might be thinking of learning a new language in the new year or want to learn a few words before an international trip. There are a lot of good reasons to learn a new language and Duolingo is a good start for some of them in some ways.

Back To Basics

Duolingo has a really low barrier to entry, all you have to do is hop on their website or download the free Duolingo app, answer a few questions about the language you want to learn, your current skill level. You can start anywhere from a complete novice to advanced and also specify your language lesson concentration – it could be cultural, for travel, or just because you want to learn something new.

It’s a very easy, quick set of questions before you’re off to learning. Duolingo is based on what they call XP points. XP points are basically a weighted point system for various language lessons and you can set a daily goal, with 30 XP being roughly equivalent to about 15 minutes per day.

Gamifying Language Learning

You get notifications daily to make sure you’re practicing everyday and Duolingo keeps track of your daily streak. Expect an automated reminder email if it looks like you might miss a day. To keep track of all those stats you have to create a free account. Then you can track your daily progress and see where you’re ranked against other language learners in the same language. Even if you’re not particularly competitive, it does work to motivate you not to miss lessons.


The layout of Duolingo’s language lessons itself are like a game. There are bright colors, buttons, and all you have to do is hit start to being. Depending on the language level your entered in the beginning, you’ll go through lessons which use a few different methods to teach.

How Duolingo Teaches

One obvious focus is vocabulary. You’re shown some words then click what they mean with audio prompts throughout. As you advance will have to pick out the correct word among a few others. The words are also read out to you, which is helpful so you’re exposed to pronunciation and accents. Duolingo doesn’t prompt you to repeat back what you’re hearing but I’ve found for me personally, repeating back those words is very effective with memorization. The way Duolingo is set up is it’s as easy or as difficult as you want to make it but that part isn’t gamified and really takes self motivation.


When you’re given a lesson where a sentence is read to you and you have to write it back, Duolingo defaults to letting you click the words you’ve heard. It will correct any mistakes and if you keep fumbling on a certain set of words or parts of a sentence like pronouns, it will focus on those for you.

To Be Free Or Not To Be

Duolingo’s free version shows ads in between lessons and prevents you from going back to see specific mistakes you may have made. Basically if you miss a day your streak starts over. But with Duolingo’s paid plan, called Super Duolingo, you can maintain your streak if you miss a day (in exchange for “Lingots”, which are points you accumulate with each completed lesson. Super Duolingo also lets you review past mistakes and get lessons focused on strengthening your weakest areas in a given language.

Duolingo is a good start or supplement but isn’t your one stop shop to learning a new language or even getting down some quick conversational lingo. I would suggest you pair Duolingo with some other online language service or classes because it’s short lessons are ideal for mental exercise to keep that new language fresh in your mind. Duolingo is the beginning of the journey to fluency but won’t take you all the way there.

A.I. Wrote This Blog Post

Note from me, the human foXnoMad. As someone who’s produced a lot of content on the Internet for over a decade both written and in video, my digital footprint is larger than average. I’ve written over 2,800 blog posts on this site, close to 400 videos on YouTube, and wanted to see what A.I. tools could generate from that content, to write a foXnoMad post. Here’s what it came up with. Also, the images – A.I. generated as well.

foxnomad ai anil polat

Title: The Joy of Wandering

As a digital nomad, I often find myself on the move, exploring new places and experiencing different cultures. And while the nomadic lifestyle has its challenges, there is also a certain joy that comes from wandering.

For me, the joy of wandering lies in the excitement of the unknown. When I set out on a new adventure, I never quite know what to expect. Will I meet interesting people? Will I discover hidden gems in the cities I visit? Will I have to navigate unexpected challenges along the way?

The unknown can be daunting, but it is also exhilarating. It reminds me that life is full of possibilities, and that there is always something new to discover.

Another aspect of the joy of wandering is the opportunity to disconnect from the daily grind and reconnect with myself. As a digital nomad, I am constantly connected to the internet and my work. But when I am on the road, I have the opportunity to disconnect and focus on my own personal growth and well-being.

I find that the act of wandering allows me to tap into my creativity and find inspiration in my surroundings. Whether I am hiking through a beautiful landscape or exploring a bustling city, I am constantly finding new ideas and insights that I can incorporate into my work and my life.

But perhaps the greatest joy of wandering is the sense of freedom and autonomy that it brings. As a digital nomad, I am able to choose where I want to go and how I want to live. I am not tied down to any one place or any one way of life. I can be spontaneous and follow my passions, wherever they may lead.

In short, the joy of wandering is the joy of living a life of adventure and discovery. It is the joy of being able to explore the world and experience all that it has to offer. And as a digital nomad, I am grateful to be able to live this kind of life every day.

Honestly, though this lacks a lot of character, it’s not the worst written travel blog post ever.

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About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutHi, I'm Anil. foXnoMad is where I combine travel and tech to help you travel smarter. I'm on a journey to every country in the world and you're invited to join the adventure! Read More

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