27 September 2007

So far so good

Thank you to everyone who has provided me with feedback re: the speechblog. Your emails and support are very encouraging. I'm really glad that so many people like my speechblog and find the information useful.

I will be in Greece, at the University of Athens, from 12 October until 4 February 2008. Although the rate of speechblog-posting may slow down during this period, I'm sure that things will pick up again once I get back.

What about the Mac users?
I've had several requests to include information for Mac OSX users. The bottom line is that I don't have a Mac, and am a little uncomfortable saying too much about software that I don't use. However, I am not the UWS IT department, and refuse to leave Mac users out in the cold. In future, I will try to include Mac alternatives to the pieces of software that I write about (e.g. I've already left a comment in the Roboform post). Of course, posts about multi-OS software such as Praat apply to Mac users as much as they do to Windows users.

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21 September 2007

A Praat Christmas

Please note that new versions of the Praat scripts on this page, as well as completely new scripts are available on my updated Praat scripts post.

A treasure trove of Praat scripts
Opening a large number of files in Praat is a tedious and time consuming process. Praat does not allow you to select all of the files in a directory and read them in at the same time. You can only read in one file at a time :(

Thankfully, Praat scripts can take care of many repetitive actions for you. Praat scripts are not magical. They don't do all of the work for you. Think of it this way: a script can carry out any Praat command that you can, which can save you many mouse clicks. A script cannot do anything that requires human judgment, such as labeling segments. When using a script, you have to know exactly what it is doing.

Here are the Praat scripts that I have used:

1. textgrid-maker.praat - This script is used when creating text grids. It will read in all of the .wav files in a folder one at a time, create a text grid, and open the editor for you. Once you have labeled the segments, click the Continue button. The text grid will be saved and the editor will close. Then the next .wav file and text grid will open in the editor. This cycle will continue until you run out of .wav files.

2. textgrid-reviewer.praat - This script is used when checking or modifying existing text grids. It will read in all of the .wav files and text grids in a folder, and open them one at a time in the editor. When you have finished making changes to your labels, click Continue. The script will stop running when you run out of .wav files and text grids.

3. duration-logger.praat - Will output all of the durations of labeled segments to a text file.

4. segment-start-end-duration-dB.praat - As the name suggests, this script will output the start, end, duration and average loudness (in dB) of labeled segments to a text file.

5. xlang_measurements.praat - This script is an extended version of segment-start-end-duration-dB.praat, and will measure formants, f0, and amplitude at 3 points in the vowel (25%, 50%, and 75%).

6. target-chopper.praat - Will chop out your target word/segments, apply onramping for 10ms and offramping for 20ms (to fade your sound file in and out smoothly - without audible clipping), and create a new set of .wav files containing the target only. This script would be used when you are generating stimuli for a perceptual experiment.

For more Praat scripts, I refer you to Katherine Crosswhite's excellent Praat script page.

Praat syntax highlighting for Notepad++
The first time you see a Praat script, you may feel the urge to rip your hair out by the roots in despair. Don't worry. A little colour goes a long way.

Syntax highlighting changes the colour and font of sections of text to improve readability. It is a common feature in advanced text editors such as Notepad++. It is easy to find syntax highlighting for HTML or programming languages, or even Matlab, but syntax highlighting for Praat is a different story. This is because not many people around the world use Praat (certainly not many non-Dutch-non-Linux users).

I know of three text editors that have Praat syntax highlighting:
1. Ultra Edit - which costs $US50
2. TextPad - which costs $US30
3. Emacs - which is horrible (sorry Christian, but it is).

So, I have created a Praat syntax highlighting file scheme for the excellent (and free) Notepad++. You will need to:
1. install Notepad++
2. download the Praat syntax highlighting scheme
3. save the userDefineLang.xml file to C:\Documents and Settings\InsertYourUserNameHere\Application Data\Notepad++\

.praat and .script files will automatically open with Praat syntax highlighting in Notepad++. You can apply syntax highlighting to any file manually by selecting the syntax scheme from the Languages menu within Notepad++.

By downloading and using my Praat syntax highlighting scheme, you agree to become a beta tester :) So, if you notice any problems or inconsistencies in the Praat syntax highlighting, please post a comment below so that I can improve the consistency of the colouring.

Praat auto-completion for Notepad++
Autocomplete is a feature where the program predicts a word or phrase that the user wants to type in without them actually having typed it in completely. In Notepad++, the autocomplete list box is displayed using Ctrl+Space. The list is sorted alphabetically, and filters suggestions as you type. For example, if you type re and then press Ctrl+Space, only words beginning with re will be suggested.

I have converted a Praat autocomplete file that was originally designed for the powerful, but expensive, Ultra Edit, so that it is compatible with (the also excellent but free) Notepad++. You will need to:
1. install Notepad++ (if you haven't already done so)
2. Download the Praat autocomplete file
3. save the praat.api file to C:\ProgramFiles\Notepad++\plugins\APIs\
Note: this is the folder where you installed Notepad++. This is different to where the syntax highlighting file is stored.

Please communicate with me by posting a comment below, rather than emailing me. This way, others can refer to my answers here, saving me many hours of responding to similar emails.
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Backup your files in five places

Picture this: you are in the fourth year of your PhD. You have written six chapters of your thesis. You have finished your statistical analysis. You are putting the finishing touches on your Interspeech conference presentation. You are drafting the final chapters of your thesis. The finish line is in sight. A virus reformats your computer. Or a power surge kills your laptop. Or your hard drive dies. Or...

File versioning
Backing up is very, very, very important. But you have to be smart. When you are working on an important document, such as a thesis, you will inevitably make numerous revisions. Do not save over your original file. Why? Imagine that you are working on thesis.doc, and as you are saving the document Word crashes and the file is corrupted. If you sync your files between devices, this corrupted file will overwrite your older, non-corrupted file because it was edited last and is therefore newer or more up-to-date. Bad news: you no longer have a working version of your thesis. Don't reach for a gun; instead save incremental versions (use Save As, not Save). For example, thesis01.doc, thesis02.doc, thesis03.doc, and so on. If thesis03.doc becomes corrupted, at least you will have a working version of thesis02.doc to fall back on, and will only lose some (not all) of your work.

Backing up
Make backing up easy for yourself. Keep all of your important files in one folder. I have a folder called 2007, with all my 2007 work. Every day before I go home, I sync the 2007 folder on my laptop with the 2007 folder on my USB flash drive. When I get home, I sync 2007 folder on my USB flash drive with my home PC. This means that every day my files are saved to three places. Of course this is not enough. Every week I save my work using other storage devices.

Here are seven backup options that I came up with. Choose five of them, and you'll be safe:

0. Your original files are on your hard drive (this doesn't count).

1. USB flash drive (also called USB key, pen drive, thumb drive, whatever) - Buy a good USB flash drive. Use it every day.

2. Communal external hard disk - Each postgraduate student room has an external hard disk. Use it.

3. Drive U: - You have 2GB of storage space. Keep an updated copy of your important documents there (not your sound or video files).

4. Home PC - Not everyone owns a home computer. Those who do should use it as a backup device.

5. Recordable media (CD or DVD) - MARCS laptops come with Nero. Burn a copy of your important files to CD or DVD. If you use a re-writable disk, you can use the same disk over and over again.

6. Online storage - There are many sites that allow you to store your files online. My favourite is Box.net because it's fast, but there are heaps of them. Find one that you like and use it.

7. Email attachments - Chances are that you email documents to your supervisor fairly regularly. Different versions of your files are probably sitting (as attachments) in your Sent Mail. This isn't really backing up, but it can save you in an emergency.

20 September 2007

Roboform: stop using the same password for everything

Roboform is the best password manager and web form filler available for Windows. It completely automates password entering and form filling. No other password manager can match Roboform. I spent two entire days looking for a (preferably free) Roboform replacement. Let me save you the time: there is no password manager available for Windows that can match Roboform in security and convenience.

What is so good about Roboform?
Roboform integrates right into the browser, and requires one click to save a passcard (your login details for a particular site). The next time you visit that website, Roboform will bring the appropriate passcard to your attention. Roboform allows you to insert your username and password and log in all with one click. You never have to type that user name and password again. Why is this secure? Because if your computer is ever infected by a key logger, your passwords will not be stolen - because you are not typing them :)

Apart from automation, the other great advantage of Roboform is that it can generate long, complex passwords for you, and it will remember them so that you don't have to.

All you have to remember is the Roboform master password which unlocks all others - so make it a very good one! If you forget the master password, then you will have to reset all your passwords and start again. If your computer is ever infected by a key logger, and your master password is stolen, it doesn't really matter because the thief doesn't have your copy of Roboform on their computer, and therefore cannot do anything with your saved passcards :)

Roboform works with Internet Explorer and Firefox (and Firefox-based browsers such as Flock and Camino). This is great because Roboform will log me in to Outlook Web Access (for my MARCS email), even if I view this page in IE Tab - so that the advanced features of Outlook are enabled.

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Recording speech in the anechoic chamber: an ideal recording setup

Following extensive discussions with my supervisors and our in-house recording techniques expert, Robert Sazdov, I have come up with a near ideal recording setup. People have often asked how to replicate my recording setup. Here is my detailed guide to recording speech in the MARCS anechoic chamber.

Praat: An introduction

Praat is a computer program which allows phoneticians (or anyone else) to analyse, synthesise, and manipulate speech. It is quite an unintuitive program to use, especially for people who are only familiar with Windows. Praat was created by Paul Boersma and David Weenink from the Institute of Phonetic Sciences at the University of Amsterdam - initially for their own use. Over time the user base has grown: at first, other people in the UoA Phonetic Sciences department, later, people at other institutions, and now, you. Today, it is the most powerful and (pretty much) the only program that allows you to do phonetics by computer.

Praat was not designed for Windows - it was ported. For this reason, it does not perform (or look) like a typical Windows program. There is no drag and drop, control+A does not select all, and pressing tab will not allow you to navigate around the window. Think of it like this: "when you are using Praat, you are using Praat, not Windows."

Get Praat
Praat can be downloaded for free from the Praat homepage. You only download one file: praat.exe - this is the Praat program. Place the file in a folder somewhere on your hard drive, and create a shortcut to it on your desktop and/or in your start menu. New versions of Praat are available for download every few weeks. Updating is as simple as overwriting your old praat.exe with the newly downloaded one - which is kind of nice.

How to think like a Praat
Forget whatever you know about files. Praat does not deal with files. Praat deals with objects. An object is a thing that you can work with in Praat. This might be a sound, a table, a textgrid, a pitch, a number of strings, etc.

An object does not always equal a file, so don't think of objects as files. If you create an object in Praat, and want to store it on your hard disk, you will need to write it to a file (the Praat word for save).

The Praat interface
When you launch Praat, two windows will open: Praat objects and Praat picture. Lets focus on Praat objects for now - Praat picture will be described in a future post.

The menu items that I have drawn a yellow box around are basically used to create, load, and save different types of Praat objects.

The buttons at the bottom of the Praat objects window (in the orange box) perform actions on the currently selected object(s). These buttons do not change - they are always there.

In the screenshot, three objects have been read in to Praat: a sound, a text grid, and a formant object. Note that the sound object is currently selected. The buttons on the right (in the green box) change depending on what type of Praat object is currently selected. This is where you can edit Praat objects and extract information from objects.

Familiarise yourself with Praat
Praat isn't a friendly program. The only way to learn how to use it is to practise.

Praat comes with a number of tutorials that are accessible from the Help menu within Praat. Admittedly, I'm not sure how helpful these tutorials are.

Also take a look at the Praat Language Lab website, which was designed to help students learn to use Praat. They have numerous potentially helpful Praat videos. If you find them (or any other tutorial) helpful, post a comment about it below.

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Notepad++ : start using a real text editor

Have you ever used Notepad? It's very simple, which is good. However, it lacks the power and features of more advanced text editors.

Notepad++ is a free and very powerful text editor. Here are some Notepad++ features:

Syntax Highlighting and Syntax Folding
Print text in colour
User Defined Syntax Highlighting
Edit several documents at the same time
Synchronised scrolling between two documents
Regular Expression Search/Replace supported
Full Drag 'N' Drop support
Zoom in and zoom out
Place bookmarks in the text
Macro recording and playback

For more details, check out the Notepad++ homepage.

If you ever need to do any programming or scripting, Notepad++ will make your life a lot easier.

19 September 2007

Paint.NET: a free image editor

Very few people need Photoshop. It's powerful, but complicated. It takes for ever to open. It costs one bajizilion dollars. I only use a very small number of Photoshop's features, anyway. It is the personification of overkill.

Paint.NET is my image editor of choice. It allows you to create, edit and manipulate images. People often comment on the images that I come up with (like the header of this blog) - well they all come out of Paint.NET. It is a free program. It is a 1.5MB download. It is fantastic. Who needs Photoshop? Not me.

Paint.NET requires the Microsoft .NET framework (which you probably have already installed, esp. if you use any of Johnson's programs, e.g. SerialPref, HabitPref, Opa).

Managing a continuously growing journal article collection

As a researcher, you will collect and store an ever-increasing number of electronic journal articles. Where you store them will depend on what piece of software you use to manage your collection.

I use Google Desktop to access my PDF files quickly. I store all of my journal articles in a folder called pdf library. I cannot see how placing PDF files in different folders helps the user - it just slows you down. For example, deciding which folder an article belongs in can be difficult and misleading. Should a Spanish-Catalan bilingual infant study go into an Infant folder, a Bilingual folder, a Spanish folder, a Perception folder, etc.? How will you remember where it was saved when you want to find it? You won't.

Also, it's a very bad idea to keep multiple copies of the same article in different folders. If you edit one copy of a file, the other copies will remain unchanged - not good. If you absolutely insist on storing your PDFs in multiple folders (I can't see why you would), and encounter the dilemma of having an article that belongs in multiple folders, then instead of creating copies of the file, store the file in one place and place shortcuts to it in the other folders. However, I strongly recommend keeping all of your PDFs in the same folder. If you wish to group certain articles together or link specific files to a project(s) that you are currently working on, you can add tags to your PDF files with the excellent research tool Zotero (I am working on a Zotero post as we speak).

I name PDF files using the following template:
Author1, Author2 & Author3 Year Journal keywords.pdf

An example might be Arvaniti & Joseph 2004 JoMGS.pdf, where JoMGS is an abbreviation of Journal of Modern Greek Studies. Most PDFs contain searchable text, meaning that the contents of the PDF file is searchable from Google Desktop. When you scan a printed journal article and create a PDF file, make sure that you use OCR to recognise the text. If for some reason a PDF is not searchable (e.g. poor quality scan; OCR fails to work properly), then include a few keywords before the .pdf extension - in this case I would have included Greek voiced stops, as that summarises what the article is about and will make it easy to find in future searches.

I know that some people in MARCS use Endnote to manage their journal article collection (as well as their citations and references). However, if we focus solely on productivity and speed of retrieval, there is no comparison between Endnote and Google Desktop. By the time the Endnote user launches Endnote (let alone searches for and locates the correct PDF), the Google Desktop user will already be reading the PDF.

18 September 2007

IZArc: Open any archive format

Archive files are basically containers of a number of other files, which make transportation and/or storage easier. They may also be compressed, meaning that they take up less room.

You are probably familiar with .zip files. This is the most popular archive format. Winzip is a popular program, which can create and unpack .zip files. However, Winzip cannot open many of the other archive formats. The same can be said for Winrar and .rar files, or Winace and .ace files, and so on. What's more, these are all commercial programs that cost money.

There is good news: IZArc is an excellent, free
archive utility, supporting nearly 60 archive formats, such as: 7-ZIP, A, ACE, ARC, ARJ, B64, BH, BIN, BZ2, BZA, C2D, CAB, CDI, CPIO, DEB, ENC, GCA, GZ, GZA, HA, IMG, ISO, JAR, LHA, LIB, LZH, MDF, MBF, MIM, NRG, PAK, PDI, PK3, RAR, RPM, TAR, TAZ, TBZ, TGZ, TZ, UUE, WAR, XXE, YZ1, Z, ZIP, ZOO.

Why would anyone buy Winzip, Winrar, Winace etc.? I don't know. You can replace all of these programs with IZArc. Do it now.

Opa: stimulus presentation software for speech production experiments

Opa is a text presentation program designed to be used by researchers conducting speech production experiments.

What does Opa let you do?
· Display words (optionally on a second monitor).
· Place words within a carrier phrase.
· Randomise the presentation of words.
· Ensure that certain word combinations are not presented on consecutive trials.
· Loop the presentation so that all words are displayed x number of times.
· Judge a participant’s productions as either good or try again.
· Append rejected productions of words to the end of the list, so that you may have x number of approved recordings.
· Log the presentation order of words and researcher ratings in a results file.

What are the advantages of using Opa?
· It is small (384KB) - memory footprint is negligible.
· Present text in any language.
· The Opa algorithm allows for complex randomisation.
· User centred design – Opa status bar displays onscreen text (including the carrier phrase), allowing the researcher to know what the participant can see at all times.
· It is free – created in-house by MARCS programmer Johnson Chen.

System requirements
Opa was designed for Windows XP and requires the Microsoft .NET 1.1 framework.

User guide
For detailed instructions, please download the Opa manual that I created.

Google Desktop: find files fast

Google Desktop is desktop search software, allowing the user to search his/her files, email, music, images and so on.

When you first install Google Desktop, it indexes the files on your computer. It indexes the names of the files and the text within the files as well. Once this is done, you can search your files right from your desktop.

This means, if you search for "bilinguals," it will return all of the documents, PDFs, images, etc. that contain the word "bilinguals" in the filename or in the actual body of text. This is a tremendous time saver.

Google Desktop actually searches as you type, meaning that after each key is pressed, the results change. For example, when I hit b, it displayed files containing b, then when I hit i, it only displayed files containing bi, and then bil and so on.

Lets say that I wanted to open this PDF file
C:\Documents and Settings\Default User\My Documents\Uni\2006\Confirmation of Candidature Proposal\COC final.pdf

From my desktop, all I have to do is press Control twice (to bring up the white search box), type in coc and then select the correct file from the list of results. It took me less than 2 seconds. This is much quicker than navigating through many folders and trying to remember where you have saved a file.

And remember, this is just like using Google search. You may specify a particular filetype (e.g. filetype:pdf), or remove search results containing a specific word by using a minus sign (e.g. -German), and you may combine operators to create powerful searches.

Google Desktop can also be used to launch applications. For example, if you type calc, you may launch the calculator program. Again, this is much quicker than clicking Start, then All Programs, then Accessories, and finally Calculator. If you type add, you may open the Add or Remove Programs window without using the Control Panel.

For those of you who are looking for a few more advanced Google Desktop uses, I refer you to the excellent Get more from Google Desktop.

Security, it's important

Please, oh please, keep your data safe from viruses and spyware.

Viruses are computer programs that can copy themselves and may damage programs, delete files, cause crashes or even reformat a hard disk! The antivirus that comes with our laptops is ETrust Antivirus by Computer Associates. This may be the worst antivirus program in the world. Don't believe me? Here's a review. I don't know of anyone in MARCS who has detected a virus using ETrust - that is not good.

Here is some good news: there are several great, free antivirus programs - I recommend Antivir or Avast. I have used both, both are excellent, and neither put a large strain on your CPU, meaning that your computer won't slow down to a crawl *ahem* Norton *ahem*. Personally, I prefer Antivir, and generally speaking, it performs better in reviews - detecting a higher percentage of viruses than any of the other free (and many paid) antivirus packages. If you install Antivir, here is how to turn off the Antivir splash screen:
Control Panel - administrationtools - local security principles - additional rules + right click and choose new hashrules - browse for and add avnotify.exe (shows as a lot of letters and numbers) and set this rule to "dont allow" - OK

Spyware slows down your computer, can make programs stop working, steal your data, log your keystrokes, and annoy you with popup advertisements. Spyware is a big problem. To maximise your chances of staying spyware free, I recommend using a combination of antispyware programs. I have all 4 of these installed, and have listed them in order of importance (if you only want one, install number 1; if you only want two, install numbers 1 & 2, etc.):

1. Spyware Doctor Starter Edition - This is a really nice program, useful for both prevention (from infection in the first place) and removal (of spyware once it's on your system). It automatically scans incoming files, auto-updates, and scans your computer for spyware. It is only available as part of Google Pack.

2. Spyware Blaster - You only run this program once, and it prevents spyware from getting on your computer in the first place. Make a habit of updating it once a month and enabling protection for all of the updated, and therefore unprotected, items.

3. Spybot - Needs to be started and updated manually. Will scan your hard disk for spyware. If it finds any, it will remove it. It does not automatically scan incoming files like Spyware Doctor does.

4. Adaware 2007 - What I said about Spybot applies equally well to Adaware. However, they detect different things - Adaware might find something that Spybot missed and vice versa.

All of the software mentioned in this article is free, and can be installed on one machine without causing conflicts or crashes.

15 September 2007

Set up your laptop for work: Make Word useable

Microsoft Word 2003 is a powerful word processor and can be a valuable tool. However, some of the default behaviours are less than ideal for research students (or anyone else). I don't know how many times I've heard people scream "I hate Word," and with good reason. There are a number of changes that I make and a number of features that I turn off when I first install Word that make it a much friendlier program.

Turn off Word annoyances
Don't you hate it when you try to select only one or two letters, but Word 'helps' you by selecting the whole word? How about auto-correcting words such as customise, summarise, colour? How about when a quotation mark 'helps' you by turning the wrong way? How about having to click on those two little arrows at the bottom of the menu so that you can 'unhide' the command that you want because Word 'helped' you by hiding infrequent commands? There is a long list of Word annoyances. Lets begin by turning off those annoying things that Word does automatically.

1. First things first - lets set the language to Australian English. From the Tools menu, select Language and then Set Language... and choose English (Australia). No more -ize endings.

2. Select Options... from the Tools menu. Click on the Edit tab. Untick When selecting, automatically select entire word. Now you can select only one character of a word.

3. From the Tools menu, select Autocorrect Options... and click on the Autocorrect tab. Untick Capitalize first letter of sentences and Capitalize first letter of table cells.

4. While in Autocorrect Options... click on the AutoFormat as you type tab and untick Straight quotes with smart quotes.

5. From the Tools menu, select Customize... and click on the Options tab. Select Always show full menus and Show shortcut keys in ScreenTips.

Customise your toolbars
The default Word 2003 toolbar layout isn't terrible, however, it can use a little research-student-tweaking. Luckily, you can add, remove, or edit toolbar buttons.

To customise a toolbar, select Customize... from the Tools menu and click on the Commands tab. From here you may add any command to any of your toolbars by simply dragging it into the desired position on your toolbar. To remove a command from your existing toolbars, simply drag it off the toolbar and drop it onto the Customize... dialog box.

Here is what the default Word 2003 toolbars look like (click toolbar to enlarge):
Ok, lets get started. I always remove these buttons:
Print - we will replace this with a more useful print button.
Email - who emails from Word?
Research - what is this?
Tables and borders - if you need to insert or modify a table, just use the Table menu.
Insert Table - as above.
Insert Excel Worksheet - if you need to insert or modify an Excel worksheet, just use the Insert menu.
Drawing - you will never use this.
Help - there's a search box in the top right corner.
Read - you will never use this.
Outside border - accessible via right click if you ever need it.

Now that we've gotten rid of the useless buttons, lets add some buttons that will make our lives easier and save us time in the future. Remember that toolbar buttons are added by selecting Customize... from the Tools menu and clicking on the Commands tab.
Save As - (from the File category) allows the user to save the document under a new name. This is very useful for saving different versions of your important documents.
Print... - (from the File category) when clicked, it will bring up the Print dialog box, allowing you to specify the number of copies, zoom, staple, double sided printing, two pages on each etc.
Paste Special - (from the Edit menu) allows you to remove formatting from text that has been copied to the clipboard.
Find - (from the Edit menu) allows you to search for (and replace) text in your document.
Header and Footer - (from the View menu) place text at the top or bottom of a page.
Symbol - (from the Insert menu) insert special, foreign, phonetics characters.
Superscript - (from the Format menu) useful for transcription e.g. the superscript h that indicates long lag VOT.

Of course, you might have some buttons that are useful to you that I haven't listed here. You should add them to your toolbar. Let us know which button you added in the Comments at the end of this post.

In the Customize... dialog box click on the Toolbars tab. Check the box next to Word Count. This will make the word count toolbar appear. This toolbar displays the number of words right in your toolbar.

After the above modifications, here's what my toolbars look like:

10 September 2007

Set up your laptop for work: Turn off the crap

When it comes to setting up your work laptop, I suggest that you should only care about speed and efficiency. This means that your computer should be (a) booting up quickly, and (b) running smoothly (without crashes).

The key to a quick startup is minimising the number of programs that run automatically when you bootup Windows. Click the Start button, then Run, and type msconfig. Click on the Startup tab and deselect all of the programs that you do not want to run automatically. For more detailed advice, I refer you to the excellent Make XP Boot Faster from Wikihow.

In order to keep your computer running smoothly you should turn off all of the useless services that run by default in Windows XP. I recommend that you read
A Guide To Turning Off Useless XP Services by JasonN and make the necessary changes. If in the future MARCS students begin using Windows Vista *shudder* then I recommend you find a similar guide for turning off all of the useless crap in Vista.

09 September 2007

Hello world

Welcome to my speech blog. My name is Mark Antoniou. I am a PhD student at MARCS Auditory Laboratories at the University of Western Sydney in Australia. I study cross-language speech production and perception. If you don't know what that is, then this is not the blog for you.

Within the lab, I often create user guides based on my experiences. These guides are intended to save people (including myself) time when trying to figure out how to do something in the future. Rather than sticking guides all over the lab, I have decided that all of my guides will live in the same place: online. Here, on my speechblog, you will find guides for using particular pieces of software, tips for being productive, as well as my thoughts on some more speechy topics. I've got a long list of posts to type up. My hope is that this blog will serve as a reference for future MARCSists. Time will tell if this will be a huge waste of time.

This is actually my second blog. I have created it so that I can separate my professional life from my personal life. When you're doing a PhD, you cannot really keep your work from affecting your personal life (esp. your social life). What you can do is keep your personal life blog posts away from your work blog.

If you are looking for my personal blog, you will find it at http://markbfm.blogspot.com/. Please be warned that my personal blog contains ramblings, venting, swearing, and poor attempts at humor - all part of my coping strategy for getting through a PhD.