October 2nd, 2007
Some time ago I went on a church mission to Brazil for two years. I didn’t know anything about Brazil or Portuguese. We have a Missionary Training Center where I was inundated with non-stop Portuguese lessons for two months. It moved so fast it was hard to remember everything but it was a good preparation. I went from no knowledge of Portuguese to two months later being dropped off in the small town of MaracajÃº, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil. The other missionary working with me was Brazilian leaving me three hours away from anyone who could understand me. I thought I was learning a lot in the classroom but have since found that the pace of learning doesn’t even compare to complete immersion. I don’t like to go hungry. I learned how to speak.
After all is said and done, more is said than done. —Aesop
Reading and talking about it aren’t enough. You’ve got to do it yourself.
I gave myself a self-imposed immersion project. I wanted something small enough that I could have some quick success (to entice myself to stick with it) but still be big enough to be interesting.
When the term Ajax first started gaining momentum Jamis Buck blogged a piece about his first Ajax app , a simple word game. The back story was that there was a technical discussion at his work about the merits of asynchronous XMLHTTPRequest versus synchronous XMLHTTPRequest. His little word game was a demonstration to his coworkers showing that asynchronous was the way to go, so that it would not lock up the browser. It was a fun little game that both me and my wife enjoyed playing now and again.
Here it is, Devlin’s Word Reorder Game.
Some technical notes:
This is implemented using the excellent jQuery library. The tasteful effects courtesy of the Interface library. The dictionary is just all the four letter words contained in the file
/usr/share/dict/words on my Mac. I know, a lot of words you think should be in there aren’t (especially the short pluralized ones like tips, huts etc.). If you can get me a better dictionary I’ll glady switch.