Author Topic: Stackz is the greatest. My reasons.  (Read 2745 times)

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querido

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Stackz is the greatest. My reasons.
« on: May 30, 2007, 06:05:05 PM »
I began my Chinese studies in my usual way: I spent some time looking into Chinese-learning related websites, books, and software tools. These would include a flashcard program.
I tried almost every free and demo flashcard program I could find, and three commercial ones. I did this as I was gradually learning what kind of flashcard functionality I would need for Chinese. I had never used any flashcard program.
Many of the programs I tried were nice in some ways. One, the most expensive one, which you've probably heard about, was a nightmare in my opinion: a total mess. Every one had some problem or another, and I got sick of it. So, I was looking at many factors. Stackz has many features, but I want to tell you the three items that made up my mind.
First, is the way the Chinese character expands automatically as I size the test dialog. THIS is THE desired behavior, and contrasts with various font problems I had with those other programs, including in some cases simply not getting big enough.
Second is something I didn't understand some months ago, when I first tried Stackz demo, and did not choose it at that time (so, I'm going to explain it to you): the progressive (configurable) uncovering of multiple fields on the card, in effect, a multi-sided card. The configurability of their number, and order, and placement, etc., is obviously very desirable for the study of Chinese characters!  In case you don't know, a character's pinyin spelling is usually ambiguous when viewed alone. So you can't run simple, symmetrical cards having, for example, English on one side and pinyin spelling on the other. The pinyin spelling and its disambiguating character would have to appear together. That means that in order to test on the character itself (usually unambiguous), you'd need another card, with the pinyin spelling elsewhere, or covered with your hand, etc.  [I edited to try to say that right.] With the previous flashcard program I had chosen, I had decided to keep three cards for every character. But Stackz's solution is obviously right, and configurable too. This is decisive.
Lastly, everything about the way Stackz handles information is flexible and easy. And I'm USING it!
« Last Edit: May 30, 2007, 06:11:44 PM by querido »

querido

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Re: Stackz is the greatest. My reasons.
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2007, 02:43:56 PM »
Summary: I've switched to Stackz Classic mode.

It is now 30AUG07, and I am still using Stackz. Because it is so flexible, I've been able to move the piles around, and change the way I worked with it in various ways, and the way I subdivide the cards, etc. It has been well-behaved, and has worked for me.

I came to the forum today to look for a post I thought I had seen, written by the program author, I think, which was a very clearly worded explanation of the reasoning behind his Stackz Classic promotion system. I can't find that post. I wanted to tell him, and anybody reading this, about my thoughts on that subject.
In the beginning, I learned about the Leitner system, and it seemed smart to me. And it is, in fact. But having immersed myself in some websites of some of the other flashcard programs, I was excessively engrossed in this system, and the scheduling algorithm issue, etc. So, at first, I dismissed the Stackz Classic mode. But I want to tell you that as a result of that clear explanation by the author, and as a result of my own experience with this program, I was very slowly converted to preferring the Stackz Classic mode. I'm also surprised by this: I have very gradually realized that I don't need more than five boxes for any of the subsets of cards that I keep. This is my opinion: if one card needs reviewing tomorrow, and another card need not be seen for a month or more, then these cards *should* be kept in different logical categories (different lesson files). I *want* them to be separated, not floating around together somewhere in a system having an unlimited number of boxes. When I first started using Stackz, I worked on setting up a complicated system that, in effect, concatenated lessons into a string 5*X boxes long. But now, I have it set up to operate just as it was designed, and it is just right for me.

Stackz preserves a convincing "feel" of real, physical, flashcards, while automating all of the recordkeeping. Those other systems seem to hold your cards out in the aether somewhere, and feel very distant to me. I zealously hoard my hanzi, every one of them. And I want to see and "touch" and test on any pile of them I feel like, at any time. I also enjoy violating the "system", zipping through the cards I already know that I know, as a break from the harder ones. I understand and accept the principle of progressively spaced testing, but I am a free man, after all.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2007, 02:54:00 PM by querido »

Chris

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Re: Stackz is the greatest. My reasons.
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2007, 03:16:41 PM »
Did you mean that article?

querido

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Re: Stackz is the greatest. My reasons.
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2007, 05:08:10 PM »
Yes, that's it.
It is very carefully worded. I appreciate that.