Saturday 31 March 2012

Listening, News & Animals: Bart the Gray Whale

Bart the Grey Whale, entangled by fishing net
Image from
Those who kill whales of the sea will not understand or ever experience the incredible feeling of rescuing these amazing mammals.

Here's the video and the transcript I have manually typed for your listening practice.

The best anyone could tell, the young gray whale was making its first migratory trip north from <Baha?> to Alaska when it got entangled up in a huge gill net.

A big curtain floated on top of the water, weighed down at least 20-feet below the water.

It was spotted Friday night then tagged with a buoy.

"Let it go!"

Sailor Peter <last name> agreed to babysit the 30-foot long whale overnight which is why it became known as Bart.

Rescue crew suspect the grey had been dragging for a week, it was filled with dozen of dead animals.

"We had a sealion, we had several sharks. I mean, it was was the the whole ecosystem, you know, was in that netting."

They also had a challenge, to cut through the nylon netting without hurting the big mammal.

"I got it, it's on."

The cutting went on for seven tiring hours, as the rescue crew followed the whale mile after mile out to sea.

"It was getting very frightening towards the end of the day because ah.. we are running out of time."

Then perhaps sensing it was time, the whale took off.

"Those buoys just went under the water all of a sudden, and when it went under the water, I mean it was like that .. a scene from JAWS, you know, I mean it's like, don don don don *music of movie JAWS*, you know, we need a bigger boat."

Moments later, Bart serviced.

"We get over to the hm.. to the .. to the... to the buoys, we pick them up, and there is all that net, all that net, strung back, and we hear our other boat was over there, and they were screaming, "He's free! He's free!"

David Anderson said about thousands of dolphins died in fishing nets every year around the world, he felt grateful to have saved one.

Actually came right up to us and almost mouthed "Thank you". It was pretty awesome, it was pretty awesome.

Well, the end of the story might be a tragic one, as a young grey whale was later found dead off Long Beach, its tail was found to have been injuried by netting.

Gray whale found dead off Long Beach with injuries to tail
Image from LA Times

It is still unsure whether the dead whale is the same one, but humans are the killers.

If we didn't eat so much fish, these animals won't be hurt by the fishing nets and this baby dolphin wouldn't need to learn swimming from a human.

May these animals enjoy a good life.

migratory -- (adj) [I] When an animal migrates, it travels to a different place, usually when the season changes
entangle -- (vb) to cause something to become caught in something such as a net or ropes
drag -- (vb) [T] to move something by pulling it along a surface, usually the ground
strung -- past tense of string -- (vb) to put strings on a musical instrument

Whale Rescued In Southern California, Now Dead? (VIDEO) @ Global Animal

Gray whale found dead off Long Beach with injuries to tail @ LA Times

Tuesday 27 March 2012

Technology & News: Mobile, Teens & Our Money

Two pieces of important news about mobile phones I would like to share with you today.

The first one comes from the findings of the Pew Internet & American Life Project by the Pew Research Center. It discovers that,
  1. American teens have increased their text messages from 50 a day in 2009 to 60 texts for the median teen text user. 
  2. "Smartphones are gaining teenage users. Some 23% of all those ages 12-17 say they have a smartphone and ownership is highest among older teens: 31% of those ages 14-17 have a smartphone, compared with just 8% of youth ages 12-13."

What does this mean? It means that the older they get, the higher chance they will get a smartphone, and the number of texts will continue to increase as the smartphones get increasingly popular.


A few things might happen,
Will this happen?
Image from International Business Times
  1. The number of car accidents might increase because teens will no longer be looking at the road when crossing.
  2. Chiropractors will be celebrating as more and more teens will suffer from neck pain and neck bones dislocations. 
  3. More teens might go into depression if their smartphones are lost.
  4. Distance between the teens and the parents will either decrease because they share common interest, OR drastically increases because their parents don't use smartphones.
  5. The teens will "chat" with their fingers and not with their mouth.
  6. Queuing up for yum cha will get easier, just ask the teens to do it and surely they can find entertainments on their phones, BUT
  7. The waiting time for a table at a Chinese restaurant for yum cha will be even longer as the customers will cling onto their table playing phone games and texting instead of eating and drinking tea.
  8. Your internet bill will take up the largest sum in your monthly household expenditure.

Brits spend nearly an hour using smartphones during nights out
Image from Telegraph

Yeah, I might be a little over-dramatic. Smartphones are not all that evil, such as the benefits I have mentioned before in my article, Academic Research (Literature Review): Smartphones for Teaching and Learning, Angels or Demons? But will any of these happen in the near future? Maybe it is already happening now. If you don't believe me, read the following article as well, Brits spend nearly an hour using smartphones during nights out. I don't know what you think, but I really can't stand sitting with a friend on the same table and they just look at the phone and not at me in the entire dinner.

Like many games, Angry Birds has a free version supported by targeted advertising
Image from BBC

The second news from the BBC is short but very much worth reading, titled Free mobile apps 'drain battery faster', talks about why the phone batteries in my phone and yours get drained out so quickly and so easily, and the article pointed directly to the free apps which downloads advertisements to your phone while you are using the free apps.

I've tested it out, and it is all true!!

If you don't believe me, try to play Angry Birds as usual, during the game, an ad will pop up, like the image below,
Ads appear on the top right corner
Image from Android Related 
This is why your data plan keeps hitting the roof! Try it on some other free apps and you will be surprised how often these ads are downloaded onto your phone. If you don't want that, just cut off the 3G before playing or using these free apps. The app will still work fine, and you won't feel frustrated when you can't shoot that red bird to where you intend to.

See? Reading more does help you save money! Especially when you read the English Playground.

"Like" this entry, "Like" the English Playground, "Like" the Facebook page, and "Like" the updates on the Facebook page.

chiropractor -- (n) [C] a person whose job is to treat diseases by pressing a person's joints (=places where two bones are connected), especially those in the back
yum cha -- (n)[U] also known as Ban ming , is a Chinese style morning or afternoon tea, which involves drinking Chinese tea and eating dim sum dishes.
expenditure -- (n) [C or U] the total amount of money that a government or person spends
dramatic -- (adj) very sudden or noticeable, or full of action and excitement
drain -- (vb) [I or T] to reduce or cause something to reduce


SMH: Older teens now send around 100 texts each day @ VB

Teens, Smartphones & Texting @ Pew Research Center

Academic Research (Literature Review): Smartphones for Teaching and Learning, Angels or Demons? @ Locky's English Playground

Brits spend nearly an hour using smartphones during nights out @ The Telegraph

Free mobile apps 'drain battery faster'

How to remove ads on Angry Birds? @ Android Related

Monday 26 March 2012

Event: Earth Hour 2012

Image from WWF

Locky's English Playground has always supported Earth Hour and has never missed out a single year, this year, we have decided to support the event even more by changing our logo to one that looks like the Earth Hour one!

This year, there will be 135 countries and territories, 5251 cities and towns, 18 billion people joining this marvellously great event!

Let's make a difference! Together, we'll change the world! 

31st March, 2012, Saturday, 8:30pm, 

Please "Like" this page, "Like" Locky's English Playground, "Like" Earth Hour Facebook!

Environment: Earth Hour 2011 @ Locky's English Playground

Earth Hour 2012 Official Video @ YouTube

Earth Hour Official website

Earth Hour Hong Kong Official website

Earth Hour Hong Kong @ Facebook

Saturday 24 March 2012

Technology: Before Rooting / Upgrading Your Galaxy S II...

Image from

If freedom is an abstract concept, then control is a nature desire.

Make any sense? I don't know. But people wants freedom and control, which is why there is something called rooting and jailbreaking.

The last time I tried to jailbreak my dad's iPhone 4, because I didn't read various websites carefully, I almost "bricked" his phone.

Upgrade message, start of nightmare
Image from Locky's English Playground

Few days ago, while I was upgrading my Galaxy SII from Gingerbread 2.3.5 to Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.3,  because of a loose USB wire (the official upgrade which has to be done by connecting the wire to the phone and the computer using Kies 2.0), my SII was almost bricked and once again, I was in deep trouble!

After surfing through the internet doing my last minute desperate researches, I finally found the best guided rooting website which not only saved my SII but also got it upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.3!!!

That website, is

This website offers very comprehensive step-by-step instructions on almost anything to do with your Galaxy SII, from rooting to upgrading to unrooting.

It offers a number of custom ROMs (firmwares which has been modified by certain software geniuses) for users to choose. And of course, I picked the best as mentioned by the website and it is called Resurrection Remix ICS ROM v9.6 for Galaxy S2 i9100. Here's the video.

And here's the installation video.

Some of you may be thinking, why did I have to download this custom Ice Cream Sandwich and not just upgrade using the official one? Well, the problem I had was that during the official upgrade, the installation halted at 6%, so the firmware was far from installed, but the damage was enough to cause my phone no longer be able to boot up.

Odin 3 version 1.8.5 running
Image from

My only choice I have to save my phone was to try to  regain control of the right to reinstall the firmware, to do that, first, I must 
  1. root the phone using Odin, then 
  2. install a new kernel (a core program which runs before the firmware is run), then 
  3. reinstall Gingerbread (Android 2.3.5).

However, after I had reinstalled Gingerbread, I wouldn't be able to install through Kies 2.0 again because my phone was rooted, so then my only choice was to first 
  1. install a recovery software called ClockWorkMod Recovery (CWM), and then 
  2. install Resurrection Remix ICS ROM v9.6, and lastly
  3. backup the entire phone using CWM (something that an unroot phone cannot do)
  4. install the yellow triangle and reset the Flash counter (something that you will get after rooting) by installing TriangleAway.

After this incident, I have learnt that rooting and upgrading the phone are really very easy, the most difficult part was finding the right website with the right instructions, and I have grown smarter!

I'm glad my phone almost bricked, otherwise, I wouldn't have learnt so much!

Image from Google Play
PS: To play save, regularly back up your apps and your firmware using Titanium Backup and CWM respectively.

rooting -- (n)[U] a process allowing users of mobile phones, tablet PCs, and other devices running the Android operating system to attain privileged control (known as "root access") within Android's subsystem.
jailbreaking -- (n)[U] the process of removing the limitations imposed by Apple on devices running the iOS operating system through use of custom kernels.
bricking -- (n)[U]  is used to describe a device which has had its software modified improperly to the point where it is no longer functioning
genius -- (n)[C] very great and rare natural ability or skill, especially in a particular area such as science or art, or a person who has this
ROM -- (n)[C] is a computer file which contains a copy of the data from a read-only memory chip, often from a video game cartridge, a computer's firmware, or from an arcade game's main board
firmware -- (n)[C] a term often used to denote the fixed, usually rather small, programs and/or data structures that internally control various electronic devices.
halt -- (vb) [I or T] to (cause to) stop moving or doing something or happening
boot -- (vb) [I or T] (also boot upspecialized When a computer boots (up), it becomes ready for use by getting the necessary information into its memory, and when you boot (up) a computer, you cause it to do this.

Rooting @ Wikipedia

Jailbreaking @ Wikipedia

Technology: iPhone 4 Failed-Downgrade Rescue Tutorial (without SHSH) @ Locky's English Playground

Technology: Great News For Galaxy SII Owners!!! @ Locky's English Playground

Samsung GALAXY SII Android™ 4.0升級教學 @ Samsung Hong Kong

Galaxy S2 FAQ @

Resurrection Remix ICS ROM v9.6 for Galaxy S2 i9100![Still Best ICS ROM] @

Resurrection Remix ICS ROM v9.6 for Galaxy S2 i9100! @ YouTube!

How to Install Resurrection Remix ICS ROM on Galaxy S2 i9100! @ YouTube

Samsung Kies 2.0

How to Install ClockworkMod Recovery on Rooted Galaxy S2! [i9100] @

TriangleAway App Resets The Flash Counter and Removes the Yellow Triangle Icon On Galaxy S II @ Know My Droid

CyanogenMod @ Wikipedia

CyanogenMod Official Site

Tuesday 20 March 2012

Academic Research: What are the top phrasal verbs to learn?

Phrasal verbs are essential for anyone who wants to master the English language, particularly in spoken English, they appear ever so often in daily conversations. For one reason or another, they are usually not the main focus of teaching in schools.

I have a few predictions I want to make.
  1. There are too many phrasal verbs, which ones should I learn first?
  2. Which ones are more useful, common and popular?
  3. There are so many different meanings with the same phrasal verb. How to learn all?
  4. Phrasal verbs are formal enough, why should we teach it?

No matter what the reasons are, it will be great to know which are the most frequently used phrasal verbs. Like I mentioned in the last entry Usage: "No" & "Not"? Is That Even A Problem?, it will be biased to make a claim such as "the most popular phrasal verbs" without stating the boundaries, and so, in this paper "Pointing Out Frequent Phrasal Verbs: A Corpus-Based Analysis" by Gardner & Davies (2008), they have only chosen the data from the British National Corpus which includes both spoken and written English data.

In their research, they have filtered out the some of the top 20 Lexical Verbs (LV) in phrasal verbs and achieved the following finding,

Then the authors continued to locate the number of occurrence for the actual phrasal verbs and obtained the following data, 

For me, I have narrowed it down to Top 10 among the top 20 lexical verbs functioning in phrasal verbs listed, top 10 combinations of phrasal verbs are:

  1. Go on          -- 14,903
  2. Carry out     -- 10,798
  3. Set up          -- 10,360
  4. Pick up        --  9,037
  5. Go back      --  8,065
  6. Come back  --  8,029
  7. Go out         --  7,688
  8. Point out      --  6,984
  9. Find out       --  6,619
  10. Come up      --  5,523
  • Total = 88, 006
Total  count in the research = 278,780

Which means that Top 10 account for 31.6% of the total number of phrasal verbs appeared on the British National Corpus (BNC).

This is an amazing finding because among 100% of the phrasal verbs used in this research from the entire BNC, 31.6% of it comes from these top 10 phrasal verbs!!!! So the next step is simply to learn the Word Senses ( = different meanings in the same phrasal verb).

The following table lists out the number of word senses found in the BNC, for examples, "Go on" has 5 different meanings, "Carry out" has 2 different meanings, "Set up" has 15 different meanings, and so on.

For the meanings of each phrasal verb, I will leave this for you to find out as a training, but if you ask me which are the phrasal verbs to learn first, I can now say, according to Gardner & Davies (2008) from their 
corpus research using data from the BNC, the Top 10, 20 or 100 are as listed above.

"An argument must have strong support to be convincing." -- Locky

Usage: "No" & "Not"? Is That Even A Problem?  @ Locky's English Playground

"Pointing Out Frequent Phrasal Verbs: A Corpus-Based Analysis" by Gardner & Davies (2008)

Vocabulary: A Helpless Man Sponge Naitard @ Locky's English Playground

Monday 19 March 2012

Usage: "No" & "Not"? Is That Even A Problem?

Image from blogspot

Never thought that these two words can be such a big issue. I've got the wind of a claim that English speakers seldom use the word "not" in both spoken and written English, and "no" is a more popular word.

I hope I've got the coldfront. 

I do not agree and I cannot agree.

First of all, talking from a common sense, how can any one language live without the word "not"? It is the basic word for negation, the foundation of logic!! Without "not", there will be no logic!

One might say we can select other words to express the opposite meaning, say, "happy" and "unhappy", "legal" and "illegal", "possible" and "impossible", but can you always do without the word "not"?

Just look at my earlier underlined sentence, how can I not use the word "not"? Use contractions?

"I don't agree and I can't agree."

You are still using "not" even though you don't sound it.

Next, the claim that "no" is a more popular word than "not" has to be proven in the form of Corpus Linguistics. However, I find that hard to agree on the claim simply because it is almost impossible to document the enough unbiased samples to reach such conclusion.

Image from amazonaws

For example, if a researcher collects formal emails or reports, then "not" will definitely have a much higher frequency than "no" as "no" is limited by one sentence structure in formal writing.


  1. Our company does not hold responsibility for any loss or.... ("not" sentence, after auxiliary "do")
  2. Our firm not only provides A but also B...  ("not" sentence, before a verb)
  3. The board of management has decided not to continue with the pursuit of ...  ("not" sentence, after a verb)
  4. There is no ground for such claim. ("no" sentence, before a noun)
How about in spoken English?

When someone asks you a Yes/No question, you can of course answer "Yes" or "No", and "not" will appear if someone uses "Not correct" or  which is not preferred generally as "Incorrect" sounds smoother and shorter, other choices are "Negative", "Nope", "Absolutely not" and many many more.

When collecting samples in order to determine more "no" or more "not", how is a researcher going to select his data without bias? For spoken English, which country's English speakers? Born native or proficient but not born native? What community? What situations? What occasions? What formality? And finally, what frequency?
Image from currentconfig

As teachers, making claims without detailed proof and research and teaching students what they "think" is correct is absolutely unprofessional. As a learner, we are bound to be influenced by correct and incorrect teaching, you should all bear in mind this fact and always think through the logic twice or thrice before having a concept inculcated into your head. 

Asking more is the key to great learning, don't learn blindly.

to get wind of sth -- see Slang: Red Hot Hong Kong Slang's English Equivalent (Updated)
Corpus linguistics -- (n)[U] the study of language as expressed in samples (corpora) or "real world" text.
formality -- (n) [U] when something or someone is serious and correct
inculcate -- (vb)  [T] formal to fix beliefs or ideas in someone's mind, especially by repeating them often


Slang: Red Hot Hong Kong Slang's English Equivalent (Updated) @ Locky's English Playground

Wednesday 14 March 2012

Game & Science: Angry Birds in Space!!!

Angry Bird Space
Image from Angry Birds

In my earlier entry, News & Science: Science News Digest (22nd Feb), I have already announced the soon-to-be released Angry Bird Space game, in today's entry, we will look at the gameplay from a physics point of view.

First, the gameplay on Galaxy Note.

Some of you might be scratching your head as to how come the bird will travel with such trajectory? Well, first, let the NASA astronaut teach you.


Still having trouble understanding? Here's the experiment by Dot Science trying to find out how the gravitational forces on both moons will act on the birds.
If you like to read a little about physics, here's the formula we all should remember back in those secondary school days -- the gravitational forces acted upon the bird by the two moons:

(m1 and m2 are the mass of the moons, r is the distance from the centre of one moon to another, vector r is the constantly changing distance between the bird and the moons, G is the gravitational constant  =6.674×10−11 N m2 kg−2. )
Image from Wikipedia

If this one doesn't make sense to you, then this one below for kinetic and gravitational potential energy won't make sense either,

Basically, at any time, the total of kinetic and potential energy should add up to 0.

K is the kinetic energy and Ug is the gravitational potential energy of the bird.

Image from gamerant.

If this is too technical and you don't feel like reading any of that, here's the conclusion from the experiment:

"Clearly, I need more data."

That means, it is so far inconclusive as to how the birds can fly like that because it doesn't seem to match the calculation in Physics, but looks like we will soon know it, when there are more videos of gameplay on YouTube.

For now, let's just wait. 22nd March is on its way!!!

gameplay -- (n) [U] is the specific way in which players interact with a game,[1][2] and in particular with video games.
trajectory --  [C] specialized the curved path that an object follows after it has been thrown or shot into the air
inconclusive  -- (adj) not giving or having a result or decision

News & Science: Science News Digest (22nd Feb) @ Locky's English Playground

[GALAXY Note] Exclusive Level - Angry Birds Space @ YouTube

Angry Birds Space: NASA announcement @ YouTube

Angry Birds in Space @ Dot Science

Newton's law of universal gravitation @ Wikipedia

Angry Bird Space Official Website

Tuesday 13 March 2012

Technology: Great News For Galaxy SII Owners!!!

Image from Samsung
What is official always sounds better! The moment which Galaxy SII owners have long been waiting for has finally come!!!! The official Ice Cream Sandwich update is rolling out for Galaxy SII in South Korea today via Kies 2.0! And Locky's English Playground is of course bringing you the latest news on that!

Image from Samsung
If you can't read the news in Korean, you can always use Google Chrome's Google Translate to help. From the English report by Mobile Burn,

"The upgrade will be offered to South Korean users beginning on March 13, 2012. It will also be available to users in other countries, including Poland, Hungary, and Sweden, before arriving in other markets like the UK. Galaxy S II owners in the U.S. will have to wait until their respective carriers approve the upgrade before it will be made available to them."

It doesn't say when Hong Kong users will get their updates, but I suppose we can all try using Kies 2.0 today after work, and I am thinking, maybe if I download the Kies 2.0 in Korean, maybe I will get ICS tonight!!!!


smokin' / smoking -- (adj) hot, great


Samsung releases Android 4.0 ICS upgrade for Galaxy S II in South Korea, Europe @ Mobile Burn

@ Samsung

@ Samsung

Kies 2.0 Official Download @ Samsung