Something a Little Different – Daniel Shares

I thought that I would do something different as a little ‘break’ between Obernewtyn and the next book in the series ‘The Farseekers’, because, why not? What I want to do is share a few things that I have found on the internet, that I think are really interesting and great, and that others might be interested in, but have not found themselves. I don’t know if this will become a thing, but it might, depending on how this goes. So have a look at what I’m sharing, because I found them interesting, and you might too.

Ike Kūʻokoʻa Project (http://www.awaiaulu.org/main/index.php)

Edit (16/09/12):Unfortunately this Project has now been completed, unless you already have an account, you can no longer assist with the project (checking and ranking pages). If you have a Hawaiian language background, you may be able to assist the project by reviewing the pages, but you will have to contact the project via their website.

I found this project, after hearing about it on a trip to Hawaii, and I thought it would be great to get involved. The project is all about transcribing thousands of pages of Hawaii newspapers, so they can be complied into something like a search engine, so people can easily find information that is ‘trapped’ on the page. All of the newspapers are in Hawaiian and were published between 1834 and 1948. But don’t worry if you don’t know a word of Hawaiian, as all you are required to do is type the words, which are all written in the ‘Latin Alphabet’ so you just have to type what you read. The project wants to complete the 60,000 pages by 31 July, 2012. Currently only 8% of the pages have been completed, so they really need more volunteers to help out. Depending on how fast you can type, a page can be completed within 4 hours. You don’t have to worry about formatting or fonts, just type the words, and then go through and check it, and submit it. Once you submit it, you can dedicate the page to someone. It’s really not that hard, and can be really fun and you can start to see common words. You might even be inclined to look up some words, and learn some Hawaiian. For more information check out their website, and get involved.

Freerice (http://freerice.com/)

Freerice is an interesting and clever website that rewards you for learning. That might not sound that interesting, but trust me it can be quite addictive. The website contains a series of different quizzes which are on a multitude of subjects. The subjects include, human anatomy, English Vocabulary, Maths, Chemical symbols, Famous Paintings, Flags of the World, World Landmarks and more. Each subject has a number of different levels of difficulty, some have 3 levels whilst others have 60. The system is designed that you start at level one, and once you get three questions correct in a row, you progress a level. If you get a question wrong, you go back to the previous level, and that question will pop up again soon. There are levels for everyone, at all intelligence levels, and if you get bored with one subject, there are plenty more to keep you interested. But the really amazing thing is, that as you are learning (and you might not think you are at the time) you are actually helping feed the world’s hungriest people. That’s right, for every question you get correct, 10 grains of rice are donated through the World Food Programme, which is run by the United Nations. It might not sound like much, but within a matter of minutes you can easily accumulate hundreds of grains of rice, and to feed one person for one day they need 19,200 grains of rice. The total amount of grains that Freerice have donated over the 4-5 years it has been around, is approaching 100 billion! There are two questions you are probably asking, how is this possible, and can we be sure that the hungry are getting the food? Well firstly, it is possible because of advertising. Each page has a couple of advertisements, like almost every webpage, and those ads pay for the 10 grains of rice. Secondly the program, as mentioned before, is supported and promoted by the World Food Programme, which is run by the United Nations. So why not ‘kill two birds with one stone’ and start expanding your vocabulary and knowledge in a variety of subjects (you can even test your language skills in French, Italian, German and Spanish) and help feed hungry people. Don’t worry if English isn’t your first language, as there are Korean, French, Italian and Spanish versions available as well. Have a look at their website for more information, and start testing your knowledge.

Foldit (http://fold.it/portal/)

One final thing to share, this time it is a game. ‘Foldit’ is a free, downloadable game. The main feature of this game, is that you are (by playing) helping scientific research and development. The game involves ‘folding proteins’ into the most efficient and stable shape. You also have to make sure all ‘hydrophobic’ chains away from the outside, and have no overlapping chains. It might sound a little complicated, but there are helpful tutorial levels and there is a forum and chat-room where you can ask questions, and find answers to your problems. The aim of the game overall, is to help scientists better predict what proteins structures (like amino acids) will look like. It will also assist scientists in designing new proteins that can cure diseases. In fact, Foldit gamers, were able to find the structure of an AIDS related enzyme in a matter of 10 days, whereas the scientists had been trying to solve it for FIFTEEN YEARS. So finally, gaming is helping solve problems in the world, and you can finally tell your mum or girlfriend, that gaming has a purpose! You can find out more about the science of protein folding and ‘Foldit’ here.

I just realised that this is my 200 post! This has gone really fast, and it won’t be long until I’ve been blogging for a year. Thank you for being involved in whatever way, I appreciate it all!

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