Thursday, March 25, 2010

BTT: Break

Booking Through Thursday

Do you take breaks while reading a book? Or read it straight through? (And, by breaks, I don’t mean sleeping, eating and going to work; I mean putting it aside for a time while you read something else.)

One of the reasons why I can read a lot of books is that I don't read more than one book at a time. I know there's a lot of folks who "multi-read," tackling several books at a time. Personally, I prefer to concentrate on one book, then move on to the next once I'm done. Though I don't get mixed up with the characters or stories, it seems disrespectful to the author that I don't give it my full attention.

In that sense, I guess I treat books as I would a movie: sit down, be comfy and dedicate an hour or so for it.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

BTT: Illustrious

Booking Through Thursday
How do you feel about illustrations in your books? Graphs? Photos? Sketches?

It depends on what sort of book I'm reading. Generally, I don't like fiction novels with photos, graphs or any illustrations unless it's part of the story, because I like to imagine for myself how the characters look like based on how the author describes them. Some books, like young adult fiction, are perfectly fine for me to have illustrations. I like the idea of the Scholastic/US version of the Harry Potter series having illustrations only at the start of each chapter. I'm also picky on the artwork, so even if there are books I like that have illustrations, they have to be good to look at. Comics, of course, are a given.

Of course, for non-fiction books I prefer to have accompanying pictures. Biographies, travel books, books on events etc. would be so much better if there are pictures. Textbooks are a given. They need to have those!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Plurk: A social journal for your life

I log on to Plurk on a daily basis. In the beginning, I was hesitant to use it, as I had Twitter but I couldn't really find the relevance of it. I had trouble with Twitter as replies to my posts aren't threaded (one feature that I absolutely like, hence my love for Gmail), and it's easy for my message to get lost in the sea of other messages (especially since I'm following tons of people).

While not as popular as Twitter, Plurk enjoys a huge audience in parts of Southeast Asia, Taiwan and the United States. It was launched in May 2008. In November 2009, Plurk was in the news when MSN China, a venture of Microsoft's MSN service, launched MSN Juku and many users noted the vast similarities between the two (Plurk was blocked in China in April 2009). Plurk then posted a blog entry accusing MSN China of plagiarizing 80% of Plurk's original code, including several CSS elements and features of the service's unique interface. In December 2009, Microsoft suspended MSN Juku's services indefinitely.

I've been on Plurk for nearly two years now, and suffice to say I don't see myself leaving it anytime soon. Here are my top five reasons why I love Plurk.

1. The community. Unlike Twitter, where I follow accounts of people I barely know, accounts of stars, or various other famous people and services, I keep my Plurk contacts to people I actually know or have interacted in someway before. Even though a good half of my Plurk contacts are folks I just met online, it's still a good, small community that I can easily relate to.

2. Keeping track. Tabs like unread, responded, mine, private, and like are helping in keeping tracks of the posts I've made and people replied to, other's posts I've replied to, and posts that I liked. I also like how each Plurk has a reply option so you can easily read people's responses.

3. Access options. You have the option to pick who has access to your Plurks. Aside from making your entire timeline accessible only to your contacts, you can even pick specific people who can see what you post. You can also create lists or groups and use that.

4. Plurk hosts the images you upload. No need for an external host (one downside though, you don't really have an accessible gallery to view all the phots you've uploaded).

5. Emoticons. I don't know why but sometimes, when words fail you, there's a corresponding emoticon that can say it all for you. Not only can you use the Plurk provided emoticons, you can use your own.

On the downside, I don't think Plurk will ever be able to compete with Twitter, nor will it reach the heights Twitter has achieved. I haven't encountered much celebrity Plurkers, and if there are any, I doubt that they're active. Plurk requires a bit more work than Twitter, especially if you want to raise your karma (a point system that unlocks certain emoticons when you reach "nirvana" at 80) and maintain it. Then again, some people just ignore it and have fun.

Give Plurk a try and let know what you think.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Booking Through Thursday: Grammar

Booking Through Thursday
In honor of National Grammar Day … it IS “March Fourth” after all … do you have any grammar books? Punctuation? Writing guidelines? Style books?

More importantly, have you read them?

How do you feel about grammar in general? Important? Vital? Unnecessary? Fussy?

In some past BTT questions (which were in an old blog that I can no longer link to), I've repeatedly expressed my feelings for the proper use of grammar, punctuation and spelling. Here's two previous posts I wrote that tackled this subject:

Wrong word, Right use (or vice versa)
Speak English (here I voice out my frustration with the popularity of "txtspk.")

As for owning grammar books, yes, I do have some. A few of them were my books in school and were required for the curriculum. Others were extra books I got when I went to university (like Kate L. Turabian's "A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations"). I also have a scriptwriting book written by Filipino writer Ricky Lee called "Trip to Quiapo." It is titled as such because of his premise that Quiapo, a place in the heart of Manila, can be reached through many routes. The point is you'll get there.

My grandfather also owns a lot of English grammar and writing books, many of which he got when he went to the U.S. to study. Most of his books are from the 1950s and 60s. The good thing about them is that many of the rules then about grammar still apply today, so I got to use them.