I ❤️ Tools

There is just something about tools that fascinates me. I’m talking about all kinds of tools, wrench and screwdrivers, power tools, electronic tools like iPads and cell phones and yes, even apps. Anything to help me do a job better. I am a firm advocate of “The right tool for the job”. That sometimes drives my wife crazy. “You need another tool! You have a whol barn full of tools, just use one of them.”

I think more fundementally, I love learning how to use tools in the most efficient way. I probably spend a couple of hours a day learning new ways to do things better and have more fun. I realize there are some of you who don’t share my point of view on this topic.

You would rather continue using the “old ways” because they have worked for you in the past. “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” mantra applies to you. You only grudgingly progress on to new tools only when you are forced into it. I guess with the “Live and let live” pillar of life, I should not be trying to convince you to change your ways. I should not be trying to tell you that you are stuck in the past. But you are as far as I am concerned.

I love fixing things so my love of tools probably comes directly from that. That is probably also why I ended up with an engineering education and occupation.

Sometimes my love of fixing things gets me in trouble. When my wife complains about something I always think she is looking for a solution, she just needs to know the best way to fix her problem. It seems I am often wrong about that. She just wants me to listen to her, not provide a solution. I wish I had a tool to fix that misunderstanding problem?

About Grammarly

I don’t know how many of you have discovered an app called Grammarly. It basically is a tool that resides in the background and watches everything you type. If you misspell a word or don’t have quite the correct punctuation it quickly turns red and if you hover over those reddened words possible corrections are presented to you.

Here is how my friends at Wikipedia describe this tool:

2018-01-29_15-58-19.pngGrammarly is an English language writing-enhancement platform developed by Grammarly, Inc., which was launched in late 2009. Grammarly’s proofreading and plagiarism-detection resources check more than 250 grammar rules

2018-02-09_08-10-51.pngI am a wordsmith so I almost always go back and check things, again and again, to make sure they are as they should be. In the past, that has been quite an arduous and time-consuming process.  Now, with Grammarly, it almost happens in real-time.  It even gives me statistics about how much I write and how well I do it.  See an example to the right. Grammarly is now one of my top writing tools.  But for many Grammarly has a dark side.

To make a point I want to go back in time to another such situation before I proceed forward.  In 1971 the first pocket calculator came to the market and was quickly banned in most schools. The logic was that if students had a machine to do it for them they would not learn how to do mathematical functions in their minds.  It would be several years before a student could use a calculator during tests in the classroom.

Since I graduated from college in 1970 I didn’t have to worry about a calculator stunting my mind. Yeah, I had a slide rule during college that allowed me to do this stuff but it was anything but convenient or easy.  Finally, in 1986 some schools “required” that a student have a calculator during testing as doing without meant fewer problems could be solved.

Coming back to the issue of Grammarly, I suspect the same thing is happening again in the academic world. I suspect this tool is again frowned upon. But in my mind, it actually frees up educational time for other topics.  The fundamentals do need to be taught but not monotonously drilled into my head. There is so much more to be subjected to in the educational process than this.

This brings up another related topic for the conclusion of this particular post. When I was in high school in the 1960s we had seven fifty minute classes. The school day was from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm. Now it seems that our local school has shortened their day by at least an hour and on Fridays, they let out at noon. Snow days when they happened during my time were made up at the end of the year. With so much more to learn why are students required to spend less time in the classroom than I did?