Thursday, April 23, 2009

I've run into an unexpected issue while using my U810, the same device I use to live-blog hockey games, to take notes in Italian class.

It's not cooperating with me when I try to type accented characters. There's a way to use the ALT key, in conjunction with the numeric keypad, to type special characters. However, this is a compact-sized device that does not have a separate numeric keypad. The ALT key is not working as I'd expected it to when I try to use it with the regular numeric keys.

I posted a request for advice on a pockketables.net forum that's dedicated to this device and its successor, the U820. I hope that someone answers my question soon. I'm sure it's not THAT hard to get this to work. There's just some trick to it that I haven't ever had to seek out before.

In the meantime, the stopgap measure of copying and pasting from the Windows Character Map is better than nothing... but BOY, is that tedious. I would far rather type the characters in.

It's funny, how there are a bunch of vocabulary items that I didn't even remember that I'd learned at some point, not until they get used in class and I realize I'm already familiar with the word. Case in point: had you asked me two weeks ago what the Italian word for "earthquake" was, I would honestly have told you I didn't know. Had you asked me, "Did you ever learn that word during your HS or college Italian classes?", I wouldn't have been able to tell you one way or the other. But in class, our instructor used the word terramoto in an Italian sentence -- something to the effect of 'Reed Street is not next to Packer Avenue, unless there's an earthquake", and as soon as I heard the word terramoto, I remembered what it meant. The way the human mind works is fascinating. I probably haven't thought about that word in 20 years or more, and yet there it was in my memory, complete with definition, as soon as I heard it.

That kind of thing has been a big help during these first few classes. And I don't have to feel self-conscious or like I'm showing off, as it seems most people in the class have at least a little bit of knowledge of the language, either via having taken classes years ago or via growing up with Italian-speaking relatives. That's helpful, too. (The not having to feel self-conscious about having already learned something that we're currently covering, I mean.) Not everyone has the same knowledge base, however, so what's familiar to one student will be new to another. So everyone has a chance to be the one who already knows some info, as well as the opportunity to be the one learning other info for the first time.

I like these classes. I have to track down some looseleaf paper, though, as we have some writing homework to do over the weekend and I think our instructor means HANDwritten, not typed.

Of course, if she sees my handwriting, she might prefer me to type next time. ;) We shall see. For now, it'll be pen-and-looseleaf time.

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