Blog / October 2016

  • 31 October 2016Fixed bug with "My Stories" page

    The "My Stories" page should now correctly display public and private stories when paging through the list. Thanks to Dee and redon for the report.
    JapanesePod101.com
  • 23 October 2016New : "Hard" rating for flashcard answers.

    Today's update adds a new Hard rating for the flashcard answers. The new "Hard" button is logically placed between "No" and "Yes", and can be activated with the h keyboard shortcut.



    Think of "Hard" as the opposite of "Easy" : you remember some elements of the character, but in truth, you don't have a full recollection of it. Therefore during review, and in the summary table "Hard" answers are counted as "failed" or "forgotten". That way you have a more accurate feedback about cards that are fully remembered.

    Where Yes and Easy move a card up to the next stack of cards and a greater review interval, the "Hard" answer demotes a card to a lower pile. Since the card moves back, it is scheduled at a lower interval and comes back for review sooner (see flashcard scheduling in the documentation).

    The "Hard" answer is very useful if you prefer not to go through the Study page > Relearn > Review cycle. So you have both options now. Even when your story is not effective, you can always edit it straight from the Review page (shortcut S), and answer "Hard". That way you never have to deal with the failed pile.

    The second pile of cards (first review) is a special case: new cards that are answered "Hard" will land in the second pile, but they always come for review the next day. Currently, a card in the third pile, that is demoted with a "Hard" answer, also is scheduled for review in one day (instead of using the default of ~3 days for the second pile).

    I did not change the number shortcuts 1,2,3 that match No, Yes, Easy. I thought using Hard, Yes, Easy instead as the default answers might be preferred. Just let me know what kind of shortcuts or defaults you would prefer and based on feedback I can always tweak those.
  • 10 October 2016Highlighting kanji components in mnemonics

    I'm considering adding colour highlighting of the kanji components (called "primitives" in Heisig's method) to the shared stories. There is research that supports highlighting text as a learning aid. On Kanji Koohii there are two scenarios in which highlighting could be beneficial: when you format your own story, and when you read shared stories.

    Currently there IS formatting for the kanji components, by surrounding the word with *asterisks*. I think with colour highlighting the stories that are formatted will stand out better in the list. This may also encourage the author in turn to think more about the naming of the character components in their own story.

    Please join the discussion on the Koohii FORUM. I'd love to get some additional input.
  • 8 October 2016Homepage redesign v2, plus thoughts about Patreon

    I've got an email that raised a point I've been thinking about recently. There are downsides to making the site look more slick and "professional". One downside is that the site loses its "handmade" appeal. Another, more critical downside for me, is that it sends a different message: it looks commercial.

    Here is an updated homepage concept which I hope communicates better that a single person is behind it, and while it is not commercial in nature, your support is important. Let me know if you likethis one better!

    It has always been developed and maintained as a hobby. While I have no commercial goals, your support is actually important. Last year I am seeing a decline in donations. I know from experience that donations tend to correspond to periods I am more active with the website, but there is definitely a downwards trend and it is worrying. As you can imagine, keeping a site like this running, and still finding time to make some updates as I enter my 40's and my life priorities change.. is not something that comes for free.

    Thoughts about PayPal

    One problem I am aware of is that donations are silent. I could implement some PayPal API to give better feedback and show a list of supporters every month but I am concerned about being locked into an API and how much time it will take to add that to the site.

    Thoughts about Patreon

    Another solution I've been considering is Patreon which helps "recurring funding.for creators". I am indeed a creator. I create something valuable, of an educative nature, that benefits thousands of people around the world.

    In the past I thought it wasn't worth the trouble because I thought my site was too small to bother. But lately I'm thinking perhaps this is a good idea.

    One potential benefit would be that the support is public. If you support through a site like Patreon, it's no longer a silent donation Even as I write there are 9 people who chose to support me with the recurring donation option on the support page (Carolin, Keith, Conrad, John, Philipp, Kenneth, Eric, Wisam, Charles ... thank you!). Those donations are silent every month. On a site like Patreon they would be visible.

    Another concern I had was that I thought it would be too much pressure. This site will continue to be a hobby, more or less. I can't guarantee that I will work on x or Y, or that I will be active at any one period. I think that's the basic relationship Ive had with the site that allows it to still be there. But then I noticed there are lots of small projects on Patreon, and I thought... perhaps this doesn't matter. As long as I make it clear in the project description.

    I'm not quite sure what REWARDS I would use though. I have one in mind but I'd love to hear some ideas if you have and that may motivate me to implement Patreon sooner.

  • 7 October 2016NEW! View all stories shared by a user on their profile

    Today's update adds the ability to view all shared stories by any given user. So if you find one particular user's mnemonics helpful and you'd like to see the other stories they have shared, you can find them all in one place. Simply click the user name in the stories list to go to their profile page.

    • Under Activity the Profile page statistics were fleshed out a little bit and now include the number of stories.

    • Please note that the Profile page only shows public stories, even when viewing your own profile. To view all your stories, head over to "My Stories" as usual (from the Study dropdown).

    • A new Member Profile link has been added to the account menu (top right) to make it easier to see your profile.

    This feature has been requested quite a few times in the past. Thanks to István for reminding me about it!
  • 5 October 2016Landing page redesign in progress

    The home page has been terribly outdated for years now and I have been working on a redesign. Check it out : new landing page concept (png image), and let me know what you think !

    There are multiple goals with this redesign.

    • Both for new visitors and potential employers, the new design hopefully does a better job of conveying what the website is about and what's inside.

    • I need to refresh myself on fancy CSS frameworks like Bootstrap, so I can try those on the landing page without having to refactor the whole site.

    • Mobile / responsive redesign. Although there is more work to do inside the website, new visitors hopefully will get a better impression. The flashcard review page in particular, is responsive and mobile friendly, but a new visitor wouldn't know with the outdated home page design.

    • Removal of the Amazon affiliate links. Amazon has earned me pennies. At best , I would receive a postal cheque from Amazon.com for approx. 120 USD every six months, and then the bank in Belgium would take nearly 20 EUR just for "transaction" purposes. In theory it was a great idea to support Mr. Heisig's books while I benefit from the audience. In practice though, most visitors who register likely have heard about the "Heisig method" and purchased the book before they were told about the website. So now the landing page simply "recommends Remembering the Kanji by James Heisig to work along with the website". The fact is, that it is possible to study kanji with other books or school programs, and while the navigation is more cumbersome, it's still possible to benefit from Koohii's kanji mnemonics and even the flashcard reviews since the flashcard prompt (the keyword) can be edited.

    So there ya go. Feedback from members and especially new visitors would be most welcome!

    In other news I know, trust me, I'd rather add a new feature. I want to add something very cool to the flashcards, potentially the easiest way to customize one's flashcards with vocabulary. But I need to dig out very old scripts for that which will take some time.

    I couldn't make significant updates to the website the first half of 2016 because I was in a crisis. I started psychotherapy and massage early 2016, to heal from the anxiety I have endured much of my life, which comes from the abusive environment in which I grew up. I'm doing a lot better now!

    I rarely write about myself here so that was a little diversion. I've sometimes thought about sharing more experiences on a blog as such, but it takes far too much time to write. Maybe someday...