Friday, 28 December 2007

FireFox tools for our English

How many times have you made a spelling mistake?
It could be lots of times, after you posted your comments or wrote a mail and so on.
In this case, a tool provided by FireFox (FF) could be very useful: Dictionary
To add it to your FireFox, you only have to click on the world "install" of chosen dictionary and let FireFox install it, then you need to restart FireFox.
The dictionary checks the spelling of the words and when they are wrong written it suggests possible solutions (right click on the word and it will appear some possible corrections , look at the picture below, I wrote "word" badly)
From now on your spelling mistakes will be fixed for ever :)

Another utility that can help us, but has nothing to do with the spelling check, is Backwards, the developers state the following features:

*Translate an English word into French, German, Spanish, Russian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Traditional or Simplified Chinese when mouse cursor hovers over it.
*With one click,
remember all context of the word, such as URL of the page and the paragraph which the word belongs to.
*Get Pronunciation of the word with a flash.

*Write a note for the word.

*Search more explanation of the word with one click.

*Review all words and context collected on a build-in page.

I add that the translation function is a bit shallow but useful to get, just in time, the gist of the unknown word and it is easier to use, indeed you need only to place the pointer near the world that you desire to translate.
At the first use, you have to point out which language to put the English words in.
  1. Go to Tool (FF' s tool bar)->Add-ons.
  2. You'll find Backwards-> click on "option" button.
  3. Choose the language in "Dictionary".

If it seems not to work you need to enable it, you should find a little grey cross in the right low corner of FF (take a look at the snapshot below), double click on it, the cross turn into green from that point on Backward is enabled but sometime it could disable on its own and you need to click on the cross again, instead by turning the cross from green into grey you can disable it when, for example, it's annoying you .

Backwords has a helpful feature that allows the user to make a note of the meaning of the word and check it in the future, you have just to click on, respectively, the red cross and the "B" letter that appear when you place the pointer near the word.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

For the series "Delicacies from Naples", now on air : Struffoli !

Last time I spoke about Baba, which I called the "King of the sweets" now I'm going to write about the little princes of the sweets, Struffoli.
They are homemade sweets cooked only at Christmas time and their recipe is easy and needs few ingredients: eggs, honey, flour, strong liquor (e.g. limoncello).
After making the dough, you shape it in little balls which will be fried.
At the end of the process you'll get little gold tasty balls that you'll wet with hot honey and dust with colored
confectioners' sugar.
The rumor says that their origins are Greek and their name means "cut as little balls".
Listen to me, after you pick the first Struffolo, you
will not be able to stop eating them and sooner or later you'll pick another one, another one yet and so on.... your fingers will be covered with honey and you take pleasure in licking them...I love them

Thank Zsofia for correcting me

Monday, 10 December 2007

My little Presepio

We start decorating the inside of our houses on December 8th with the Christmas tree and objects with Christmas motives, but for us, I mean the people of Naples, it's very important to
show in our houses the
Presepio (Christmas nativity).
Naples is very famous for its long Presepio manufacture tradition, we have an area in the city centre, called S.Gregorio Armeno, dedicated to the developing of the Presepios, there you can see and buy every kind of Presepios you want, little, big, with lights, with an artificial river with classic and new characters...
Some people, here, who are good at shaping woods, make their Presepio on their own.
When I was a child, helped by my father, I made some
marvellous Presepios that I rebuilt from the beginning every year .
This year, my father had a very original idea... He developed a small and nice Presepio into a coconut skin which symbolizes only the holy family, the nativity, look at the photo, he added a little light into the coconut too!!.
So you can understand how creative the people are here.

Friday, 23 November 2007

The Frozen side of Naples

On the 21 November 2007, in Naples, the world's first permanent museum of ice sculptures, the Ice Art Gallery was born.

Sponsored by Municipality of Naples in association with Erbavoglio association, the museum is an idea and a project of Amelio Mazzarella, the president of the "Associazione Italiana Scultori Ghiaccio", who has carried out the concept of "Made in Naples" by using as raw material water coming exclusively from Serino.
The gallery covers an area of 120mq, with two floors encompassed by a great refrigerator
room, which allows the ice sculpture artists from all the world to create either ice landscapes or objects and show their creations.

The average temperature in the museum is about 3 degrees below zero, warm and comfortable fur coats will be available on the superior floor.

The Ice Art Gallery is a "dynamic" lab, as well, and every season will show a new face: for its first year of life the use of 300 tons of ice is foreseen so it will be possible to change the issue of the art exhibition many times a year.

The visitors will be able to enjoy a cocktail during the visit and sit on an ice sofa while they are
playing chess on an ice chessboard.

Ice Art Gallery, Padre Francesco Denza n.6 street

Monday, 19 November 2007

No smoking in the park

From 19/11/2007 on, in Naples it'll be avoid smoking in the public park in the presence of pregnant women and children whose age is below twelve, all parks are interested (Floridiana, Capodimonte and so on).
Naples is the first city in whole Italy which applies this ban.

The first Neapolitans' impressions can be summarized with these two answers
for the question: "What do you think about the ban?"
A young girl: We are smoking outdoor, it can't be dangerous!
An old woman: When I'm near a child I'm not used to smoking!
Some other citizens complain that there aren't any no-smoking signs at the moment so they keep on smoking!

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Delicacies from Naples

There are a few sweets in the world which are as delicious as the Neapolitan ones. When you come here, of course, you would like to taste the Neapolitan delicacies and fortunately there is a large variety of sweets to eat, some of them belong to the ancient Neapolitan pastry market like Baba.
Baba is very soft and tasty with its gold color and belly shape it is the king of the sweets and when you give it the first bite, little rum drops will wet your tongue.

Baba is also a home made sweet, as well, its recipe is very easy to put in action and all the ingredients are natural, indeed you need flour, baking powder, eggs, butter, sugar and rum (for cooking) to make it.
It's good to eat after either lunch or dinner or you can eat it during a relaxing walk in the historical centre of Naples.
It is said that the Polish King Stanislao Leszczynsky, who was a gastronome, wet a "kugelop", an originally Austrian sweet, with rum and he named it Ali Baba in honor of his favorite reading The Arabian Nights.
The Neapolitan version of Baba came at the end of the '700 and it was reviewed by applying some changes.

Where can you buy it ? is it expensive ?
You can find it at bars or pasty stores. In Naples every bar sells it and with about 1.50€ you will take a great pleasure in eating it. I honestly suggest to you to eat a Baba made by the old pastry store Scaturchio
Trust me it's worth eating!

Baba because of his sweetness is also a word used in Neapolitan lingo, it's common to say:
Si doce comm' nu Baba (You are sweet like a Baba)

Thank Zsòfia for her correction

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Episode II: Learning a foreign language with RosettaStone SharedTalk

It's probable that many people already know Rosetta stone line-products for self-teaching a new language aided by PC.
In this item, however, I want to speak about a new tool provided by Rosetta Stone to learn a foreign language not being alone, but with the help of a community.
Differently from the other RosettaStone products, Shared Talk does not need any installations
but you can make use of it without an installer and free of charge (at least at the time I'm writing!)
Indeed, all you need is an Internet connection and to sign up on the SharedTalk web site.
Since ShardTalk is a community you'll find many people that live in different angles of the world
and want to exchange their native language(s) with the one(s) they want to learn.
Going on look over its main features:

1) Mailbox.
After your registration, you''ll have the right to a private mailbox that you can access only by logging in on the SharedTalk web site.
However they provide a notification service to make you know when a new mail has been sent to you. Simply you'll receive a notification message on your electronic mailbox that you have provided during the registration.
In this way, they avoid spreading your email on the Internet.

2)Partner Search engine.
As I said SharedTalk is a community where people wish to learn a language by exchanging it, in
other words when you fill in your profile form, you have to choose which language(s) you can
teach and which one(s) you wish to learn.
Then with a partner search engine you can find among the community members the best for you.

3)Text Chat
As other Internet communities, SharedTalk is equipped with either a public text chat or a private text chat.
The public chats are categorized by language, for example there is a chat for speaking English, another for Russian and so on.

4)Voice Chat
At last but not least there is the Voice Chat, I think it's an innovative and useful feature and
probably SharedTalk is one of the few learning communities that have this tool.
In order to enter the Voice Chat you don't need any software like Skype but simply a microphone.
The voice chat is well developed because it lets you know which members are speaking and
which aren't, moreover you can know the country where the people are from.
and which language(s) they wish to practice.
These are the major characteristics in my opinion, however we have to take into account that SharedTalk, currently, is a beta release and probably new features will be added or improved.

On the whole I honestly suggest this website and the benefits like the registration which is free of charge, because in the future to join SharedTalk could become charged or conditioned by purchase of a RosettaStone product (This is my prevision I can't ensure you about that!)

Join Rosetta Stone Shared talk

Friday, 26 October 2007

A few minutes a day with English

I think that it's very important to train our English every day even if for only
a few minutes, now I don't want to deepen this concept but simply I'll suggest
you an easy and fun way to refresh our vocabulary and increase it with new words and "slangs".

There are two Italian radios which broadcast programs for English training:
Radio Monte Carlo RMC
Radio 24

RMC with its program "Speak Easy by Clive" help us to build up our English by listening to
famous songs and explaining to you the meaning of the words.
Generally, Clive focus your attention on the same word but show its different meanings and uses with songs.
Speak Easy is on air every day at 13:30, 16:30 and 20: 30.

Radio24 with its "English24 by Marta Cagnola and Giulia Crivelli" differently than RMC
not use only the songs to improve and keep your English alive but also short pieces
of interviews or advertisements.
Marta Cagnola and Giulia Crivelli show you, by example, words and expressions that are currently used.
English 24 is on air every Saturday at 19:15

Both English 24 and Speak Easy take few minutes so they are very useful for everyone needs
to practice English but don't have time to accomplish it.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

The Monthy Phyton: The Meaning of life

Yesterday I watched a movie in English (with subtitles) called "The meaning of life" by Monthy
I discovered them thanks to Grazia's me&Dublin blog, who posted their short scene in her blog so I got curious and I wanted to watch at least one of their movies.
The meaning of life is a funny and sarcastic movie, which tends to explain, as its name suggests,
the meaning of life through short musicals, satirical and comic scenes.
The movie, divided into six parts, tells the life cycle of the man, from his birth to the death, while different characters take part, some of them are funny others encourage you to reflect about the life with sharp gags.

Honestly before I watched them I was afraid to face a movie seasoned with the "English humor" that for us is hard to understand and doesn't make us laugh very much, but scene by scene I was surprised how enjoyable the movie was.

I can't explain what sort of movie it belongs to, because it's a mixture of different genres and I'm not an expert.
I also think it is a useful movie to improve your English skills because the actors don't always speak quickly and sometimes there are short pauses among the gags which allow you to take a
breath and understand the meaning of the gags, a short sample....

Monday, 8 October 2007

I have a dream...

These famous words were preached by one of the most important and greatest men of the man's story. I think, every man, like M.L. King, has his own dream, of course not all of ours are as much worth as King's one.
Some dreams don't involve the hope for a better society or peace in the world, some of them are very minor and symbolize what we would like to do or be in our life.
Since I have been interested in Italian politic, my dream is to see my country rise. In Italy, exists an old (very old!) economic depression mainly in the South.
We have a politician Class involved in dirty businesses and some of them have been sentenced despite of this they keep on taking over and wasting public money. Sometimes I asked to visitor or people living in other countries: What do you know about Italy ? and after they take a little time for thinking, they answer "Pizza, sea, and...mafia".
Let me not discuss the mafia (our plague), but why don't we better our country?
To be known as unreliable people is a beautiful label for us? I don't think so and like me a lot of Italian citizens and people all over love Italy.
Then what can we do? we could come down into square and ask our government to fix this situation for ever; but our voices wouldn't be heard by anyone who is currently in power.
In these recent days, a man well known as Beppe Grillo (comic) is forcing the Italian souls to make a change for the better, hopefully that something will change.
He put forward interesting stuff, but what will really happen ?
I don't know.
It doesn't matter if it is Beppe Grillo or someone else, I hope that my country will get better... this is my dream.

I thank Holly for her corrections

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

When I run down

Every one has its own "weak" moments, we can run down for many reasons:
by attending an intensive course, by working and studying in the same time,
by going out every night of week and so on..
When I fell so weak and mainly while my mind is turning off there is one
thing I love to do is listening to music and in particular there is one song
which make me feel better, it is an old song but ever green, its name is
Ain't no mountain high enough sung by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell

What do you like to do when you run down?
Do you like listening one song ? which one?

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Episode I: Learning a foreign language by eTandem

How many times have you wondered where can I find a mother tongue in order to help me
learning a new language?
Certainly you can learn a new language at private school but it's expensive and time could be tricky.
If you have a bilingual friend, you are very lucky because without paying while enjoying yourself you can learn a new language, but if you have an Internet
connection... you are lucky too!
Indeed you can join the eTandem community in which you will find other people, like you, interested in learning a foreign language.
How does it work?
Suppose you are Greek native (so you can teach Greek) and want to learn Swedish, by joining eTandem, you could find someone who is a native Swedish speaker and interested in Greek.
Then by helping one another you'll learn the foreign language.
Moreover it is an opportunity to know someone who lives in another country with traditions and background different than yours.
To achieve this, first, you have to sign up at the eTandem Project, and fill in your profile (name, language you want to learn, language you can teach, etc.)
The eTandem system will match as best as possibile your profiles with other members and establish a contact (by email) between you and your partner.
About one month after my registration, I have been communicating with my English partner for 7 days with email,and we'll start as soon as possible chatting and speaking...
For more details:

I thank Holly for her corrections


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