Flashcards for (older)iPods

Notes 1

At the simplest level you can store lists of words in the notes feature of an iPod. Write them in a text file in UTF encoding and the iPod can display the Japanese. However the typeface is very small compared to roman type and can be hard to read.

To be a little more sophisticated you can seperate word and definition by a screens worth of blank lines. This way you can test yourself and not see word and definition at the same time. On the 5G (video) iPod there are 11 lines per screen in notes. The screen is 26 kanji characters wide. Roman text isn’t monospaced so will vary depending on the letters used. Text does wrap however. File size is limited to 4k per note.

iFlash can generate ipod note based versions of it’s flashcard decks using blank lines to avoid showing the definition and word at the same time. However at the moment they haven’t changed for the larger 5G iPods and seems to be optimised for screens with a 7 line height.

–update 07Sep09–
iFlash now has a version for the iPod Touch. In fact the Touch with it’s wealth of applications and screen real estate renders most of this post obselete. A lot can happen in 2 years technology-wise.



A slightly more readable way of producing cards on the iPod is to make them as jpegs. The advantage is readability. The disadvantage is size and each card has only one side. You can put Japanese on one jpeg and english on another but if you use shuffle you will lose the link bewtween them; you can only study them in the order they are imported. My only solution for this is to make your cards using two sides to the screen and physically block one side. Not ideal at all.


Audio Flashcards

Of course the real beauty of an iPod is it can play audio and is much better at doing this than displaying text or photos. There is a wealth of Japanese launguage material out there and best for me is japanese iPod 101. I edit single words to a single track and save them to playlists. The text used in the menu systems and Now Playing screen is larger and clearer than notes. However in menus it doesn’t wrap. In the Now Playing screen it will scroll if it is wider than the screen. I have tried keeping Japanese to one channel and English to the other so that by removing an earphone I can test myself however whatever way the compression works I get a faint recording of one channel in the silent passage of the other channel. The other alternative is to leave a silent space before the definition. This means that if you want to test yourself in both directions you will have to make the file twice. Once English first; once Japanese first.

To edit I use Final Cut Express because I like the way it works. There are many audio editing programs available and you may find one more suited to how you work. It is a good idea to get original material by a native voice that is as clean and clear a recording as possible. I have heard commercial recordings that sound as if they have been recorded in an echoy bathroom and others that have the hum of a computer hard drive on them. It might be possible to repair them somewhat using a noise gate or other audio filters. You want something that you can listen to repeatedly.

Puting things together.

You can add artwork to audio files that will display full screen if the user clicks the center button twice. This could be useful for adding large kanji. Going further you could make movie files instead of audio files and have several pictures synchronised to the audio. If they are still pictures they should compress quite well.

But best of most worlds is to use notes ability to link to audio…


Notes 2

iPod notes can link to audio files, like a very limited web browser.

You can either include links in a normal note file but you still have the problem of small type. Or you can make a linx file that makes a custom menu. The links on the menu can link to audio files, folders or other notes. The syntax of how to make these files is explained in this pdf from Apple.

I have used this method to make line by line clickable transcripts of the dialogs on Japanese iPod 101. First I transcribe the dialog in kanji to a text file. Although if you want you could use hiragana or romaji. Lines that are longer than 16 characters should be broken down into multiple lines at a suitable break in the sentence if you can. Otherwise characters after the 14th one will be not appear; the text doesn’t wrap.

Next edit out the dialog from the program. I save this as a single file to the ipod. Then I break it down into individual lines and save these files to the iPod also. These lines can either be one file per sentence in the dialog (my preferred option) or one file per line on the screen. Use a naming convention that you can easily remember like EpisodeNumberLineNumber. It’s worth unchecking remember playhead position so the files always play from the beginning. Also check the option to remove the file from shuffle so you don’t get randomn lines of Japanese when listening to your music on shuffle.

Then I mark this text up so each line links to it’s corresponding audio file. I use the &NowPlaying=false tag so I stay in notes when the audio plays. It’s also a good idea to turn repeat off.

I place a play all link at the bottom linking to the complete episode and a link back to the previous menu. I also put a title in the file. This will appear in the menu bar of the ipod when showing the file and it will be what appears in the menu listing the episodes. You can call your file whatever you want as long as it ends in .linx. I save all these files in a folder called jPod101 in the Notes folder on the iPod.

Now when I go into Notes in the folder jPod101 I have a menu of the titles I’ve given files which lead to the episode transcripts in a large typeface. I can highlight a line then play it by selecting the center button.

<title>Episode 93</title>

<a href=”song=93line1&NowPlaying=false”>T: いました</a>

<a href=”song=93line5&NowPlaying=false”>N: 上野公園でこの子の</a>
<a href=”song=93line5&NowPlaying=false”> お散歩をしてから、</a>
<a href=”song=93line5&NowPlaying=false”> お昼を食べに行きます。</a>
<a href=”song=ep93&NowPlaying=false”>play all</a>
<a href=”/jPod101″>back</a>


01. June 2007 by ロバート
Categories: 05 speaking • 話す事 | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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