Wednesday, March 19, 2008


I ordered a Wacom Bamboo One graphics tablet from about two weeks ago, and am pretty impressed by it (once I installed the updated drivers for my Macbook, since it was sucking with multiple users/sleep/USB disconnect+reconnects). It's nice for scribbling and drawing, even if it just makes me realise what a poor graphic artist I am. The main reason I bought it was for studying Chinese - up to now, I'd been using a scheduled revision program (first Pauker, then Mnemosyne, then when it wouldn't build on OS X Leopard due to one of its Python dependencies being a bit outdated, Anki) to learn Chinese characters and sentences, and writing the characters vertically on paper as I revised them. However, to avoid spoiling the recall process, I was having to draw gridlines and cover up already-drawn characters so I wouldn't see them when presented with flashcards for review. There two problems there; one was that lots of paper was being used up needlessly, and two was that it was fiddly and a hassle, so I stopped doing it due to my self-discipline not overcoming the coefficient of resistance (my laziness is a rough cloth).

Since the graphics tablet arrived, I started using it to sketch the characters in Seashore, a simple bitmap drawing program.

Then I check if I was correct (if not, I draw each character four times or so), clear the canvas (by hitting backspace) and grade myself in Anki, moving onto the next item. It's faster and easier, two reasons which have helped me keep doing it. Along with some truly inspiring ideas (the "how many things will I definitely do tomorrow" game and the "I'll just get the file out" trick) I read on Mark Forster's site, which you should incidentally go and read now, by the way, since it might just help you change your life for the better.

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