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Posts Tagged ‘U’

Lots of people seem to have trouble with focus these days.  From kids texting, tweeting, posting racist comments on the internet, and yelling racist comments into the microphone of their online gaming system of choice to graduate students texting, tweeting, reading for comps, decrying racist comments on the internet, and updating their Facebook status while driving down the freeway, the world is constantly calling for our attention.  In response, those of us who want to get something done have to fight our chronic procrastination, often through attempts to minimize distractions.  Some have employed programs that limit web access while others have tried to recreate the Doogie Howser-esque writing environment of WordPerfect 5.1.

Now, there is another option.

As the developers state, “It’s a distraction-free writing environment that we call “ū—” (pron. “YOOOoooouuuuu…”). And, it’s going to change the way you think about thinking about maybe writing some day forever.”  This unprecedented freedom from distraction is achieved by a careful elimination of nearly everything, “including cruft like paragraphs, lines, and words. This is why ū— only displays the bottom half of one letter at a time. Talk about focus.”

Beyond the ability to focus, the developers recognize that what sets one program apart from another these days is customization.  This is where ū— prevails, offering an “endlessly re-customized combination of options” that includes the ability to:

  • Play non-distracting circus music every time you manage to finish a word
  • Enjoy the minty “DONNNNNNNNG!!!” of a distraction-free wind chime every 60 seconds—just to remind you that you’re really “in the zone”
  • Stay in non-stop touch with The Distraction-Free Community by showing distraction-free real-time Facebook and Twitter updates from your fellow ū—sers
  • Set which affirmations you’d like our lovable “Focus the Clown” to scream at you by random intervals. He’s focus-larious!
  • Set the “Angry Masturbation Break” timer to whatever interval suits you and your distraction-free genitals.
  • Say sayonara to the tick-tock of that distracting clock; “Tojo the Time-Teller” will announce the exact time every seven seconds, occasionally offering distraction-free encouragements in distraction-free pidgin English
  • Ask “Virtual Hemingway” to silently monitor everything you do and suggest when it’s time to try a new customized distraction-freeing setting. But, watch out! He might shoot your distractions and put them on his wall! Ha ha.

With this sort of customization at your disposal, how can ū— go wrong?  Your dissertation will be finished in no time!

Via Daring Fireball and Crooked Timber, which suspiciously quotes the same text as Daring Fireball…

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I’ve been teaching college students for five years and in this time I have encountered a lot of students who were bad writers.  I’m reminded of this as I sit in front of a pile of student essays, many of which are lacking in basic spelling, grammar, and sentence structure.  I have encountered at least two essays that include the textese word “u.”

A recent post on the Chronicle website details some of the difficulties of dealing with student writing, including this example:

During a conference with another student, “Belinda,” I mentioned the subject of childhood reading. “Books are great,” Belinda declared. “Nancy Drew mysteries, Black Beauty, My Friend Flicka. I love them all.”

“Good,” I said. “Now you need to do what the authors of those books did.”

“What’s that?”

“Master the basics of the sentence,” I said.

Belinda turned huffy. “But my mother teaches English.”

Being used to spontaneous outbursts of illogic from students, I replied politely, “Perhaps she can help you learn how to create sentences properly.”

Belinda changed tactics. She leaned forward and asked, almost conspiratorially, “What do I really need to do to get an A?”

Acting flirtatious may have gotten her high grades in high school, but I said, “You need to clear up comma splices and eliminate sentence fragments.”

Belinda waved one hand dismissively and laughed. “That’s what my professor said last semester.”

Apparently she expected a new instructor to be more original in evaluating the quality of her work.

I walked Belinda through my former professor’s tried-and-true worksheets about fragments and commas, but her next paper displayed the same problems that her previous ones had. This flummoxed me. Graduate students in English write without having to think about the rules; in fact, grad students may not be able to explain the rules or even diagram a sentence, since they intuit what to do when they write. Belinda did not share that gift, nor did a number of other freshmen.

Unfortunately, there are no solutions (yet… this is the second part of a series so I hope that the author will include some suggestions to help deal with these issues eventually).  If the experiences of this person, who was a graduate student teaching English composition, are indicative of those who teach English composition in general, this goes a long way to explain the poor writing abilities of my own students.  Of course, if basic improvements can be made to the writing abilities of freshmen in mandatory composition courses, those like me who devote large amounts of time in each course to the improvement of student writing may be able to spend that time focusing on the content of student essays rather than the mechanics.

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