Wednesday, December 10, 2008


BBQ?! One of the great learning tips I tell my students is to rewrite and recompile their notes, especially on regular basis, to learn and really retain something. In a way it's very "old-school" -- learning by rote.

So, I decided to put my money where my mouth is and re-type and key in the entirety of the ASLSK #3 rulebook. This "electronic" version of the ASLSK rules is for my own personal use (so you cheap bastards out there go buy your own copy and type it up yourself!) so I can truck it around on a laptop or USB key and put the hardcopy away somewhere safe. Besides the convenience though, creating my own eASLSK3 is just another way of learning and retaining the rules.

However, I haven't just chosen a word processor and have at it. I've done a bit of research and decided that rather than plain text or even plain HTML, I'll go with the Windows Help File format (.chm) which let's me do some fancy indexing and internal hyperlinking. A quick look through (open source software -- i.e. FREE software) and I found HelpMaker by VizAcc.

Here's how the program looks in action/editing mode:

It's basically a WYSIWYG text/HTML editor that compiles your work into a Windows Help file format when you're done. Here's how it looks in a compiled page (Windows Help file format) opened on my desktop:

Note: I haven't scanned any images in yet but this is also integrated into the software so inserting diagrams and illustrations from the rulebook is very simple. (So now my ASL hobby has combined with my ultra-computer-nerdness and I am complete.)

Seriously though I only just started today and am done a good chunk of 1.0 and all 2.0 Definitions "a" through "d". Did I learn anything? Yep! I was reminded while typing in the CX entry that units not only declare CX to add 2 MF during movement but become CX if they advance and use all their available MF -- no more willy-nilly advancement without checking PPs and MFs.

Thanks to the folks at Gamesquad in this thread (check out page 20-ish and onwards) who chatted up the .chm format and other possibilities with me.



Jeff said...

That's a great idea. And you're right about learning by rote. Still, it's a big job. If you'd like some help, shoot me an email. I could do part of the project and then we'd merge it together. Or does that defeat the purpose?
BTW, nice web site. Your enthusiasm is contagious. Keep up the good work.

scrub said...

Hi Jeff, thanks for your comments. Playing and learning ASL has been a good time so far!

My purpose for the e-version of the rules is, as you say, a learning mechanism. (Besides, I think MMP might kill us if we transmit their copyrighted material through the INTARWEBS.) I think that I'm going to keyboard the SK ruleset but graduate eventually to full scanning of the ASLRB when I get to that stage.

Jeff said...

I continue to be intrigued by this idea, both as an ASL learning aid and reference, as well as an interesting computer project exercise. (I'm a computer geek, also) The question is: how does one do this in such a way that it need only be entered ONCE and yet is available in multitude of formats on a multitude of devices and at will. It'd be great to have this tool be platform independent and available on whatever medium is handy, be it PC, Mac, Web, phone, Kindle or whatever.

I've decided to try this idea using Wiki format. This is my first use of wiki and I like it -- especially the automatic internal linking of terms and pages. And I like the editing and sharing ability; it will be easy to make this a group project. Of course, because of copyright we will have to keep this to ourselves.

So far, it's going along well. Very fun. I hope you'll keep us advised as to your own progress.

scrub said...

Well, I'm almost done the definitions chapter 2.0 since I think that will be linked a LOT by the other sections...

As for the best project that would be cross-platform, I imagine something HTML-ish or probably XML would allow easy porting to things like your cellphone/pda or what-not.

Someone on the GS boards was going on about seeing this stuff on his PSP which is about as nerdtastic as I can see.

Wiki is a great collaborative method for sure but that's its strength. The linking is HTML-style really and I get all antsy thinking about Hasbro jumping on me if your version got out in the wild.

Olov said...

I have made a iPhone app of the full rulebook. It's a great tool when you are playing and want to search for all the references of a particular rule.

scrub said...

Hi Olov, that's a great idea. I'm hoping that once I get an electronic copy going, porting it around to different platforms will be trivial.