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Category: Tech

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.

duolingo

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.

How To Use Your Wireless Headphones With Airplane Entertainment Systems

In-flight entertainment systems, for the most part, are wired headphones only but sometimes you want to watch that new superhero movie or classic you keep putting off. Or maybe you didn’t download everything you wanted to on your tablet for a really long flight. Nobody wants to get stuck with the terrible headphones airplane staff provide you with, fortunately there’s a convenient way to connect your fancy wireless earbuds with any headphone jack.

Taking Off With AirFly

The AirFly Pro is a small Bluetooth transmitter you pair wirelessly with your cordless earbuds or headphones, then plug in to a headphone jack. It’s made by a company called Twelve South but is also sold directly by Apple online and in their stores. Twelve South actually made a few different type of AirFly, the regular AirFly, AirFly Duo, and AirFly Pro.

The main differences are the AirFly connects to only one device at a time, the Duo and the Pro let you connect two sets of headphones at the same time, and the Pro let’s you do things in reverse; which is stream from an iPhone to a headphone jack. For example to stream music to a car that doesn’t have a Bluetooth connection or a rental you don’t want to sync your phone with.

airfly pro

The AirFly Pro is pretty small, comes with this small pouch, and measures 10.92 centimeters at its longest and weighing only 15 grams, easily fitting in the palm of your hand. It charges via USB-C and on a full battery gives you around 16 hours of listening time. The design is fairly simple, you’ve got an audio jack and a pairing button. On the side there’s a switch between transmit and receive modes as well as a small reset button to return to factory settings.

Pairing Your Headphones And Earbuds

Pairing the AirFly with your headphones is pretty straightforward. you push and hold the power button down for 4 seconds. Once the indicator light is flashing orange and white, it’s ready to pair. Then you’ll put your headphones in pairing mode and hopefully in about 5- 10 seconds you’re all set.

I recommend pairing the AirFly Pro when your at home because it’s not the most intuitive, since you have to rely on indicator lights and it’s just much easier to have everything set up before you get on a plane. Once you’ve made the connection though, it’s  process you don’t have to repeat for the same earbuds or headphones again.

Sound High Quality

The sound quality from the AirFly is very good and depending on the wireless headphones you’re using, the AirFly really provides them with a strong audio feed to play from. There’s hardly a lag from what you’re hearing to what you’re seeing on the screen and airplane announcements aren’t four times as loud as everything else.

Compared to other, cheaper Bluetooth transmitters, the AirFly Pro is well worth its slightly higher price tag. The competition generally is laggy, with worse battery life, and for frequent flyers, an AirFly Pro will be invaluable.

FaucetSafe Premium App Is Your Personal Guide To Safe Drinking Water Worldwide

faucetsafe app

Knowing whether or not the tap water where you are or happen to be visiting is safe to drink is a problem FaucetSafe solves right from your phone. Whether or not the local water is potable is one of the most common questions travelers have but a lot of the information online is either inaccurate or out of date. I developed FaucetSafe to be a travel guide in your pocket, that can give you current information on water potability around the world.

Now, with latest version of FaucetSafe Premium (available on iOS and Android) you’ll have personalized notifications to alert you on the potability of the water from the tap. FaucetSafe Premium unlocks the following features:

  • Automatic Notifications: Get water potability information as soon as you arrive at your hotel, home, or vacation rental destination down to the neighborhood level – works offline. Notifications with water drinkability works completely offline so you don’t need an Internet connection!
  • Track Specific Localities: Select countries, states, and other localities you want information on and receive notifications any time there’s an update to the water quality there.
  • Personalized Support: FaucetSafe Premium users will also get personalized support for any questions you have regarding the water potability in a given country, city, or neighborhood. We’ll be your clean water personal guard so you always drink only the best. (And avoid getting sick when traveling. Because that sucks.)

All of the Premium enhancements come with all of the regular FaucetSafe features including always up-to-date independently verified water quality reports from all over the world, user community, and of course, complete offline functionality.

How To Get FaucetSafe Premium FREE

FacuetSafe Premium is an upgrade you can select from within the FaucetSafe app. It’s a yearly subscription you can try 30 days for free and connect with other travelers, just in time for your next trip!

Of course if you have any questions about FaucetSafe you can send me a message here. Have a safe and hydrated flight!

Mint Mobile’s Data Usage Might Be Confusing Your Phone

A few months ago when I reviewed Mint Mobile, a popular pay-as-you-go cellular service in the United States, I noted there was some lost data. Meaning that the amount of cellular data usage from my phone once Mint was activated skyrocketed, resulting in a lot of unexplained data usage.

It’s a mystery I’ve been testing and investigating since it’s come up and I’ve got some answers but now a few more questions. Here’s the latest.

Gigabytes On Up

Prior to using Mint Mobile, I was averaging about 2.5-3 Gigabytes of cellular data usage a month. Primarily tied to WiFi in most cases, I’m not a heavy user. So it made sense to get a $15 a month 4GB plan to test on for a minimum 3 month term. Yet a week or two into my plan though I hit that data limit and got a notification I’d have to purchase more data – so I got 5 GB for an $15 extra dollars. And then 10 days later, guess what? The same thing happened.

iphones

In fact this happened each month so at the next 3 month interval, I went with a 10 GB plan. Same thing, went over my data limits, had to buy more. Then I went with the unlimited plan and well, that’s when things got weird.

Looking For Leaks

Prior to this I had tried to find if there was some data leak on my phone. I made sure WiFi Assist was off on my iPhone, a feature which uses cellular data when you’re on a weak WiFi connection. iCloud and iCloud Drive were off too, which they always are. Apps were checked for data consumption and my phone was left in airplane mode for days at a time.

Still, I went from averaging 3 GB a month, getting Mint Mobile, then averaging 15 GB or more a month. That is until I switched to an unlimited plan.

No Records

I reached out to Mint Mobile to see if they could share a history of my data usage over the months but they replied that since they’re a prepaid service, they don’t have such records. If that’s true, it would make it very difficult, if there was some sort of data issue, for Mint Mobile to investigate it since they wouldn’t have any records to go back and check.

Whether they have the information but don’t share it, or could access such records but don’t have the data parsed, or just don’t keep such records at all, in all 3 cases that’s a bad look. It means as a consumer you have to track all of your data usage by month and record it. Should there be a potential issue you noticed last month, well Mint Mobile wouldn’t be able to help you much since they can’t verify or cross reference the data usage you’re seeing from your phone to any records on their side.

And here we are. So far this month I’ve used a small amount of data and am wondering, what will happen when I go back to a 4GB plan or 10GB? We’ll see and I’ll update you in a few weeks with those results.

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II Are Ready For First Class

The first generation Bose QuietComfort had great sound quality and the best noise-cancellation you could get in earbuds. Still, they were hard to recommend for everyone because they were big, bulky, and not very comfortable to wear for long periods. With the new Bose QuietComfort II though, Bose has addressed nearly all the shortcomings of the first version and improved upon pretty much everything else.

You can watch my review of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II above or read on.

Smaller Case, Smaller Buds

Bose has overhauled the design of the QuietComfort II. Gone is the larger pill-shaped case from before which has now been replaced with a thinner, puck case that’s reminiscent of the AirPods Pro 2. The case is 30% smaller, is lighter, and retains 18 hours of battery for the earbuds. Gone is wireless charging but since it gives us a smaller case, it’s a tradeoff most will be happy with. The case charges over USB-C, taking 3 hours for a full charge and can quick charge the earbuds in 20 minutes.

bose quietcomfort earbuds II

Now the earbuds themselves have undergone a design overhaul as well. They are 20% smaller and 30% lighter than before, with a pill shape that’s got a sleek rubber band around the edge to secure the fit. As a result of the physical design and light weight (6.2 grams each) the QuietComfort II Earbuds stay in place and are very comfortable to wear for hours at a time.

Sound Quality ANC

Active noise cancellation (ANC) has always been a strong point of Bose headphones and earbuds and these QuietComfort II are no different. Activating ANC turns off the outside work so much so that you’ll hardly be able to hear yourself type once activated. The ANC is adaptive, meaning it adjusts to spontaneous loud sounds like a sneeze or noisy truck passing by. For frequent flyers the ANC will make engine noise mostly disappear. For times you need to hear the outside world, a long press on the earbuds will scroll through Aware mode or turning ANC off.

bose quietcomfort earbuds 2

Aware mode uses the microphones in the earbuds themselves to funnel in outside sounds to your ears so, in theory, it’s like you’re not wearing earbuds at all. And the QuietComfort II do a good job at this, really giving you the feeling of not wearing earbuds for the most part. Aware mode is great for when you need to hear a gate announcement at an airport or listen for your name at a coffee shop.

Worthy Of Upgrade

There are a few minor gripes I have with the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II. Mainly that it (still) doesn’t have multi-point support and the long press to scroll through ANC modes is slow. Both of these issues could potentially be resolved with software updates but still, if you’re using the previous version, these are a worthy upgrade. For everyone else shopping for active noise cancelling earbuds, Bose has just made these a top contender you should take a close look at.

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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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