Apple App Store purchases and region/country settings

I download a lot apps and software. I used to download and try everything just to know what is out there for any specific task. In the old days I had tried all the browsers for Windows. You name it I’ve tried it. Netscape, Opera, Explorer, Firefox. Unless you try them all you can’t say which is the best for you.

Software unlike apps was available anywhere for any country if you can get your hands on it. But this is not true for purchasing things online. The App Store means that things can be location, region or country specific. And sometimes apps that were once available but not anymore cannot be searched for. Updates also are no longer available to you once it is removed from your region.

Case in point is the Flickr app. This was once available in Japan but is no longer there. So when I read online about the update and availability of a universal version working with iPad I knew I had to get it. But because it was removed from Japan’s App Store I could not get an automatic update.

The workaround was to delete then reinstall it. Since I had already purchased it previously it is mine to keep. So while I would not be informed of updates I was still able to redownload it as an update. Again, this is how you do it:

  1. Confirm there is an update
  2. Delete the app
  3. Reinstall the app

So if you are like me who want to keep everything up to date or get the latest versions of an app no longer available to you this is the way around the problem.

What is the difference between an “app” and a “program”?

Typically it is best to think programs and apps as the same thing with different names, just like cyclones, hurricanes and typhoons which technically these three storms are the same thing. So an app and program are just the same thing with different names.

In common usage though you will never call a something running on iOS or Android a program, or something on Windows, Mac OS or Linux an app. These terms seem to reflect on the environment they run on. And they install differently. A program usually requires an installer and will install various files needed on the computer for it to work. An app on the other hand will usually be (or at least feel like) one file downloaded. It will have one icon. And deleting it will be just to tap on “the cross”. A program will include and require an uninstaller in order to get rid of the various files installed all over your hard disk. Programs in general are pretty messy looking things.

One must also think of what usually becomes an app. For the most part we never install anything to do, for instance, Gmail on a computer. Add-ons to browsers may be the in-between case for some functionality, but we still use online email services through a browser. Whereas on an iPhone your email will be an app. In other words some things which are usually done on a browser on a computer will be done by an app in mobile devices.

List of JIS layout compatible apps for iPad

I have compiled two lists of apps which I use which are compatible and not compatible with JIS layout keyboards. It can be found here.

(Not) using the Apple Wireless Keyboard (Japanese layout) with iPad Air

I keep coming back to this issue of pairing and setting up an external foreign language external keyboard with the iPad Air. The problem is not that it outright rejects such a keyboard but that it depends on a particular app’s ability to recognise it or not.

Strangely enough Apple’s very own wireless keyboard for its own desktop computer does not work alway recognise the keyboard. Apple of course seems to know how to make its own software to work but that is lost on third party app makers so that buying apps which rely on keyboard input (productivity apps, for example) could mean your input method may have to forego keyboard hardware (or else rely on your memory of where certain punctuations are).

Of course if you are using the virtual keyboard this is not a problem. But that makes my purchase of an external keyboard (an Apple one at that) seem downright silly and a waste of money.

Still nothing beats a physical keyboard for the input experience which why we still want to buy one. The ability to be wireless is again part of the deal. The hardware – an iPad with its minimalistic external keyboard – is just so sexy.

So why is it that Apple can’t get the software or OS right, least of all its own?

AntWordProfiler short review

I have been playing with Laurence Anthony’s AntWordProfiler for a bit now. It is a corpus linguistic tool to “profile” coverage of texts in terms of comprehensibility particularly for reading in a second language. To understand how it works one must understand its predecessor Range by Paul Nation.

Paul Nation is a researcher in Vocabulary Acquisition a subfield in Applied Linguistics. His interest was mainly how much coverage of a text is needed before vocabulary can be acquired from reading without the aid of dictionaries and from textual context alone. To this end he created a the Range program. The Range program has two main functions: 1) to show the distribution of words across mutliple files or texts, and 2) to show how much of the text is covered by carefully designed wordlists based on frequency or knowledge. It does this by number crunching and showing this through statistics.

AntWordProfiler essentially does the same thing but is an upgrade in terms of functionality. Instead of just statistics we can now look at coverage in the text itself. And with a little tweaking of the word definition you can make AntWordProfiler mirror the Range program’s  (and AntConc’s) results.

Again, Mr Anthony has come up with a slick and easy-to-use product. The controls are less intuitive than AntConc (but more so than the Range program) but still it does not take much to figure out the functions.

The selling points, for me, are:

  1. the ability to creating identical results with other products thus making research results compatible and comparable;
  2. transferability of its results in plain-text to other platforms;
  3. speed (not as fast as AntConc (especially the old versions)) but still fast, and;
  4. the ability to process large volumes of text (Range crashes at about 250,000 tokens)

This is the tool to use if you need to profile texts or look at type occurrence over multiple files.

[Update] Mr Anthony has kindly pointed out two omissions to me – that AntWordProfiler is free (yes, free!) to use, and that it is available on different platforms (Windows, Mac OS X and Linux) which Range is not.

Zotero

Manage your paper/articles/thesis references with Zotero.

Zotero is a free and open-source add-on to Firefox, Chrome or Safari for managing your references within papers, articles or thesis. You may ask why is it in a browser. Good question. Hopefully it will be abundantly clear after you have finished reading this post.

Workflow
Typically I go online to find articles. Either by search or a reference through another source. When I do Zotero can then save reference information your want with just one click. It will save the author, publication, volume, issue, pages, date, and other relevant information (and/or the PDF or webpage) in Firefox.

Once you have this information in your Zotero database you can then use it to automate that information into any Word document via an “add-in”. At the point where you want to enter a source you click the “insert citation” button and a pop-up box appears asking for the source. Click OK and it will be inserted there.

Once you have finished your paper at the reference section part of the paper click “insert bibliography” and everything will inserted with just one click.

I have used Zotero for over six years now and I have found it to be an indispensable tool. I cannot compare it to other similar products because I haven’t use any of the other similar software like EndNote. But I can say is it is an incredibly easy tool to use. I haven’t had to create from scratch a bibliography since. I used it for my Master’s thesis and it worked perfectly making my five-page bibliography section with literally one click.

Some personal practical advice

  1. Don’t save PDFs into Zotero. It slows down your entire Firefox browser as you can imagine how much information needs to be loaded each time it is started up. I recommend that you download it separately into your computer system.
  2. Check for errors and extraneous information in the references. I generally weed them out in the final draft of a paper. Once corrected you will never need to do it again for other papers.
  3. Back up your database by exporting your library. Do this regularly especially after extensive online research.

Where can I get Zotero?
You can download Zotero from its homepage. If you don’t already have Firefox then download that from here. The add-in for Microsoft Word can be found on the Zotero homepage as well.

ICEWeb – the web as corpus

I hadn’t done web as corpus before. That is until now.

People say the web as corpus linguistic data is unreliable. But then they said that too when the first corpora were made all those years ago. Undoubtedly how good the sample is is an important factor. One can say the same thing about any scientific experiment with a small sample size. Thus choice of sample as well as size is important.

All language is language. We can use literature as the yardstick or some other medium. So why not the web.

Martin Weisser was nice enough to inform me about his work in ICEWeb, a program for web corpus analysis. It is an easy to use interface with a simple help menu to explain the basics. How one chooses and analyses a web corpus is something else, something which I have yet to master.

I recommend that you try it if you are interested in studying language and the web.

AntConc Tutorials page updated

I have finally updated the AntConc Tutorials page. It is now called AntConc Basics. It summarizes the mechanics of using AntConc without unnecessary detail on how to analyse a corpus (I leave that up to you). It also comes with a two page PDF version. The online version also comes with a quick-reference guide to the main AntConc interface to help you get around.

All comments and suggestions are welcome.

Surface or iPad? That is the question.

I have been tossing about which tablet to buy. For me the question is productivity-based – I want to be able do word processing on the road. Lugging around a PC hasn’t been fun. And often I just give up. But look at my choices I see that Microsoft is coming out with their Surface tablet. The selling point is the Word and Excel intregration, something which will be a winner for the company purchasers.

And then there is the iPad.

Looking at the apps available I discovered that Apple’s Pages word processing software can import and export to Word. So isn’t that all I need. The selling point of the iPad is its UI. Nothing beats the feel of it. Sure, it is built for fun. But it can do the extra task of work, and that is music to my ears.

As someone who is making this purchase individually it is a no brainer.

Having Word is not such a big deal really. Afterall we live in a cut-and-paste world now. So there will be a work around somehow through this battle of market dominance.

How to make a frequency word list in AntConc

First open some files.

To make a word list:

  1. load files;
  2. click on the ‘Word List’ tab, and;
  3. click ‘Start’.

The list in ordered by most frequent first. Types with the same frequency are ordered alphabetically within. Total number of types and tokens are shown between the tabs and work window.