Review: Collins Dictionary online

A green thought bubbleThere are many online dictionary sites. Some that come up near the top of search results include Dictionary.com http://www.dictionary.com, Merriam-Webster http://www.merriam-webster.com, The Free Dictionary http://www.thefreedictionary.com, Wiktionary http://en.wiktionary.com, Your Dictionary http://www.yourdictionary.com,
Definitions.net http://www.definitions.net.

One that is not so easy to find is Collins http://www.collinsdictionary.com.

The popular dictionaries are really wannabe encyclopedias. They have detailed explanations of each word. Rather than defining the term in succinct form, they attempt to be general and all-inclusive. For example, searching the noun form of the word “blog”, these dictionaries can use 20 – 40 or more words to define blog. In addition” their definitions have lengthy “or” and “and” clauses so that they cover all the bases and then some.

Although most have a sample sentence, the ones they offer don’t have any context. For example, Merriam Webster uses the sentences “She writes a blog about travel. I enjoy reading her blog.” From this I know “you can read a blog” and “a blog has a subject.” Collins dictionary gives “When Barbieux started his blog, his aspirations were small; he simply hoped to communicate with a few people.” This lets me understand it better, it gives me an example of the why and who that Merriam-Webster’s example doesn’t reveal.

Collins Dictionary has many other useful features such as definitions in both British English and American English. Along with the conventional definitions, parts of speech and derived forms of word, this dictionary has audio pronunciations of the different forms of English. For the language nerd, it provides a graph of word-use frequency over time.

There are full dictionaries of Portuguese, German, Italian, and Chinese. It appears to be missing a dictionary of French, Arabic, Hebrew and other world languages.

One unique feature that it has is a Learner’s English section that include each definition with a less complicated sentence using the word.

Frequently, when I search for words in a search engine, I add “site:collinsdictionary.com” to limit my search to this source.

Check http://www.collinsdictionary.com out. I believe you will be appreciate it as much as I do.

On cameras

Out here we’ve been having a lot of fun watching the two babies. They both just turned one. They have really different personalities… not really surprising but it’s nice to see them become their own individuals.

I’ve had a Canon PowerShot camera for a long time. It’s not high end. I prefer buying mid-range devices.  Often my theory is to buy the second least expensive or second most expensive.

I never use my phone camera. For a long time I had it blinded until I wanted to take pictures of the Magna Carta and Declaration of Independence at the library. I’m sensitive to privacy concerns and go to longer lengths than most people, thus the blind camera.

So, the real camera I have includes some nice properties that I like.  Some are on the phone but I haven’t used them consistently to know how to put them together with the phone.

I like being able to power the camera up in a moment’s notice.  The optical zoom is convenient for taking pictures with closeups, for example, of kids and an adult.

My sister is a professional photographer so she explained how to use features I didn’t know were there. I’ll get the real manual to learn more.

I like exploring the different options of a technology to see how they work. One feature I’d never used was changing the criteria for light metering. I wanted to take some pictures that were back lighted by a window.  Changing light metering and the manual option let those come out well. It looks like controlling the auto-focus and automatic light metering independently may not be possible.

It would be fun to write reviews for software or devices after becoming an advanced user. My first impression may being unnecessarily negative or undeservedly positive.

Another thing that is nice about the real camera is that I can hand it to someone else. They’ll know right away what to do. I don’t have to worry whether they’ve only used a Windows phone and won’t know how to use mine without some encouragement.

Almost everybody left a little bit ago so I won’t be taking many more pictures.

We’ll head home tomorrow.  First we’ll go to Indy and then Fort Wayne… not the direct route,  but my car is in Indy right now and my sister’s step-grandson needs to be in Indy as well.

This afternoon, my sister left for Cornell to do more research for her history PhD. Part of her studies are about disabilities rights and their evolution. It’s a challenging topic because personal autonomy and desires may not match the expectations of the majority. Most people have their own definition of what is a “valid” life. A doctor or legislator may demand a certain lifestyle as if it was the only one that is acceptable.  On one hand, it is desirable for a person to achieve all that they are capable of, and on the other, a person may choose for themselves to reject that expectation.

It’s so easy to look at a few specific examples of a life and generalize that it applies to everyone.  Life has infinite complexity, so deciding for someone else their needs uses broad brushstrokes. But that ignores the subtleties and nuances where the artist has used the lightest touch… where meaning resides.