Good news for our free users! Vocab Vitamins is opening up the audio pronunciation and archives for the last week to all users. Now, everyone can hear the daily word pronounced out loud and review the last five words in the archives. Please help us out by letting us know if there is anything wonky in the next couple of days with emails or the website. We are shifting our membership model and there will be some additional changes over the next couple of weeks. We are excited to provide a more useful service to our users and would love to hear your comments.
Archive for the ‘Goings on’ Category
There are many benefits to running a small operation. No office politics, no dress code and decisions are not made by committee. However, there are also countless drawbacks. A significant one is that when my personal life goes through a major milestone, such as moving house and traveling, Vocab Vitamins feels the ramifications of the time crunch.
Well, I am back to let you know that I have not drowned in the ether and that Vocab Vitamins will be coming back to life over the next couple of weeks.
As you know, we have been in the throes of correcting a system time problem on our server. The first problem we fixed was responsible for a mysterious late delivery time on our emails. This, unfortunately spawned another problem. All of a sudden, our words were being sent a full 8 hours earlier than they should have been. Eight hours essentially got us into ‘the day before’ territory, so words were being sent on Sunday when no words exist for Sundays. Just when we thought it was fixed, the blank words demon struck again.
I assure you that we are not “speechless” or on a lovely hiatus in the Bahamas. The words are still there, Monday through Friday. Please see the today’s word page:
Our system administrator, despite his brilliance, is still chasing this one down. Apparently, there are three or more system time and/or time zone settings that have been responsible for this mess.
We are switching over to complete manual sending until things are 100% fixed. Thank you for your patience!
Hello all, apologies for the writing hiatus. I have had a snowstorm of possible Vocab Vitamins blog topics, but unfortunately not enough time to bake any of them to delicious fruition.
Just an update to let you know that we have had a couple of problems with account upgrading that have now been fixed. The errors were cause by really minor issues, but were resulting in heaps of frustration for our users. We are thrilled to be celebrating their demise. Please accept our regrets. Contact us at support@ if you need assistance.
It is mind boggling that we have been doing this for this long, but on Tue, September 4th, 2007, Vocab Vitamins celebrated its seventh birthday! That is, we have sent 1,826 words. In the seven years, we have had about 140,000 registrants. We have published a book and created a service for classrooms.
Our very first word was ‘germinate’, and our first theme was appropriately named ‘Beginnings.’ At first we just did the definition and a very short usage example, then, we expanded to have the definition, pronunciation, audio pronunciation, usage sentence, sample usage from current media and literature for each word.
In 2000, the internet bubble was still getting bigger, then it burst like a sore. It festered for a couple of years and then managed to heal over, and web businesses came back. Then web 2.0 rolled around. Vocab Vitamins was the little spineless jelleyfish that rolled with the tumultuous seas and survived.
What does the future have in store? Many more delectable words, and brilliant and thought-provoking usage examples. But that is all that is certain. It’s a foamy, fabulous sea out there!
You may have noticed our new look. We have updated our homepage and navigation with the following goals in mind:
1. Replace the antediluvian html that comprised our homepage and nav. We now use css stylesheets with code of at least 1998 freshness. Our website is now more accessible for special devices as well.
2. Highlight new features, like the blog, rss feed and create a place to showcase new things.
3. Better communicate what it is we do around here. Apparently, there was rampant confusion about Vocab Vitamins and the old homepage was not helpful in this regard. No, we don’t sell vitamins, although some days I feel as if we should.
4. Create a space for photography. At the moment, it is a photograph I took on a hike in California. We will eventually be adding more photos here, all with a goal of showing some sort of beauty or wonder, texture or personality. We will invite you to submit your photos as well.
We want to hear your thoughts on the changes. What would you like to see and what still needs improvement?
Let me tell you a secret: I am a bad speller. I have a fabulous memory for faces, images, locations of things, and numbers, but my inane attempts at spelling out loud or transcribing spelled letters border on laughable. In fact, that parental trick of spelling out words that you don’t want a child to comprehend (D-E-N-T-I-S-T) works embarrassingly well on me.
It is a funny thing to run a vocabulary website and be a bad speller, but it has given me valuable insight. Someone who is naturally a good speller is less likely to analyze what it takes to spell well. Unless, of course, you are preparing a child for or participating in the increasingly competitive and media-frenzied Scripps National Spelling Bee.
After winning in the 13th round yesterday, Evan O’Dorney issued forth this hilarious quote: “My favorite things to do were math and music, and with the math I really like the way the numbers fit together. And with the music I like to let out ideas by composing notes — and the spelling is just a bunch of memorization.”
At the national level, undoubtedly, the memorization required is astounding. But as Spellbound (2002 documentary about the quest to win the national spelling bee) showed, the memorization is multifaceted. The kids learn roots from myriad source languages, eponyms and the associated history or story, specialized vocabularies, et-cetera (or rather ad nauseam).
We love watching these diligent little child geniuses attempt to spell words that we have never heard or seen on the printed page. It is certainly a celebration of their hard work and abilities, but it is also a celebration of youth and the treachery of English spelling. Most children are expected to spell poorly and we have this event every year where we can pat them on the back for every successful attempt.
As adults, it is taboo to spell badly. Dan Quale [correction: Quayle] and the “potatoe” incident come to mind. We consider spelling mistakes a sign of feeblemindedness.
We here at Vocab Vitamins would like to take this crunchy-granola opportunity congratulate the spelling bee participants, the finalists, and the winner, and remind all of us to celebrate the successes and strive to improve.
Here are some real world tips for spelling better. Sorry, these only work with words you already know. To learn more words, tune into Vocab Vitamins, read, and yes, memorize.
The Vocab Vitamins No-Pain Some Spelling Gain Plan:
1. Use google’s “did you mean” feature. You all know this trick. Use it every time you are not sure, search the spelling you think is correct, then take note of the results, don’t just copy the correct spelling.
2. Sound out words syllable by syllable. MOS-QUI-TO. You will spell more words correctly.
3. Visualize the word, especially if you are a visual learner. Trying to see the shape of the word will help you remember if it “looks right” when you have written it.
4. Remember your mistakes. Most of us have a couple of words that consistently give us trouble. Remember to fix your common mistakes either through mnemonics (i before e, except after c) or just repetition.
5. Pay attention as you make corrections. Spellcheckers are good friends of ours, but only if we take note of the corrected spelling. Face it, spellchecking mindlessly is abusing the spellchecking privilege.
We are really thrilled with the results of the survey. Thank you all for taking the time out of your busy lives to let us know how we are doing and what we can do better.
We received a total of 70 responses. Almost 75% of you got the meaning of ‘insouciant’ correct (it means ‘carefree’). It was meant to be a fun question, but also a veiled attempt to see how well you are retaining a very recently featured word. Good work!
Most of you come to Vocab Vitamins for the fun and intellectual stimulation of it all. We have some, but a smaller number of test preppers. The majority of you really just want some synapses revved, with some humor and variety thrown in.
You prefer to receive your words by html email with text email as a runner up. Although we have rss already and have a widget waiting in the wings, it looks like our focus should not be on newfangled methods of word delivery.
Most of you think that we are doing a good job across the board. The poorest marks we got was for test preparation. We know about grade inflation and how sweet you all really are, so we are examining your responses carefully. For example, only 50% of you would recommend us to others, and we would like to raise that number.
You asked for more unusual, harder and slang vocabulary. You called us out on not answering email. You praised our themes and imaginative word groupings. You pointed out that our email formatting needs improvement in some mail programs. You complained about quiz problems. We will be reporting back to you as we work to address these issues.
Mostly you were all incredibly sweet and positive. Thank you for providing feedback without making us cast mournful, longing glances in the direction of the nearest cliff.
The impetus for this user survey was a project we are doing with three talented SJSU MBA students. Early next week, they will give us a presentation on complete survey findings and other research that they have conducted. If there is new information that would interesting to our lovely audience, we will share it then.
We hope to make the user survey and annual event. Thanks again for participating!