Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Japanese Language Learning Resources

February 10, 2019
I’ve recently started learning Japanese. These are some of the resources that I’m using.

Rosetta Stone for Japanese
This is the core of my study, but it’s also the most expensive. There are ways that you can get access to it for free. Our local library has a deal where you log into the library web site, link over to Rosetta Stone and then it launches the app on your iPad. The route to the app is a little circuitous, but it’s saves some money. The only disadvantage is that you have to be online to use the app. Not a problem most of the time, but if you’re on a plane without WiFi, it can be annoying.

Drops Japanese
Drops is a visual way of learning vocabulary by dragging words to pictures on iOS or Android. The free version of the app gives you 5 minutes per day. Since I’m using it with a bunch of other things, that’s just fine for me. If you pay for the full version ($159 for life) you get unlimited time each day.

Sticky Study Japanese
I’m a HUGE advocate for flashcards. I made thousands of them when I was in language school and had this method of speed learning small groups of cards and then bringing them back together into larger groups based on how confident I was with the word. Sticky Study does that in digital form. It covers thousands of characters and includes reading writing and hearing. It also shows larger words the characters fit into, phrases and a lot more. I found that I got a lot out of reading the user guide ( before I started using the app. It describes their approach to flash cards and a few elements of the user interface that I didn’t grok at first.
StickyStudy is $8.99 to own the full version.

Japanese Pod 101
This site is just bursting with quality PDFs, videos, podcasts and other materials. Their YouTube channel ( is awesome. Right now I’m just using all of their free content, but I’m very tempted to move to the paid version. The only problem is that it’s a subscription model and I really prefer just paying all at once and keeping it for life. They have a $4, $10 and $24 a month plan. But for now I’ll just use the free stuff. Two of my favorite videos so far: 1) Learn Kanji in 45 Minutes ( – gives you an overview of Kanji the radicals and how it’s built. 2) 10-Day Hirigana Challenge ( – These videos teach you all of the sounds in the Japanese alphabet and mnemonics to help you remember them. I’ve been watching these videos on the elliptical. Great material.

Learn Japanese: A Complete Phrase Compilation for Traveling to Japan
This is an audiobook that is more focused on Japanese for travel. It’s from the folks at Japanese Pod 101. The difference between this and the other materials is that it dives straight into the vocabulary that you need for getting a table at a restaurant, buying a train ticket, etc. They don’t do enough repetition to make you really learn it, but if you just play the lessons again and again, it works.

DuoLingo for Japanese
I’ve been dabbling with this one. It’s not part of my core materials, but there is some good stuff there.
Have some suggestions of your own? Please comment below.

Not Being Evil (Google and Japan)

March 11, 2011

This post isn’t about Java, or food or an interesting quote. It’s about Google honoring its corporate motto of Don’t Be Evil. Not only are they not being evil, but they’ve done a good thing today.

Within hours of the recent earthquake in Japan they’ve set up a Google Crisis Response for the 2011 Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami.The page has alerts and warnings, bulletin boards, transportation information, power outages information, maps (with KML data links so it can be used in other applications) and a Person Finder where people can post information about people they are looking for or people they have information about.

That’s awesome! Kudos to the folks at Google!

Feel free to leave comments below.



Extracting Integers from Strings

October 7, 2008

The following snippet of source code extracts a single digit from a String and converts it to an int. The String.charAt() method takes a zero-based index of the position of the character to be extracted from the String and the Character.digit() method takes the String from which to extract the digit and the radix.

In the example below I pass 0 to the charAt() method since I want the first character extracted and I pass 10 as the radix since I’m working in base 10.

String myString = "3blindmice";
int digit = Character.digit(myString.charAt(0), 10);
System.out.println("Digit: " + digit);

Output: 3

If the position passed to charAt is not a valid position within the String then a java.lang.StringIndexOutOfBoundsException is thrown.

If the radix is not between Character.MIN_RADIX and Character.MAX_RADIX, -1 is returned.

Comments, alternate solutions and related snippets of code are welcome.

Joshua Smith


API for java.lang.Character.digit(char, int)

API for java.lang.String.charAt(int)