October 25, 2013

Introducing Leximo 2.0

It's been a while, but the official second version of Leximo...Leximo 2.0 is now officially in the Apple App Store.

The entire app has been re-designed from the ground up. The main new features being social and visual.

You can now create a profile and add definitions, including attaching images from your phone, or from Instagram.

Download the updated Leximo iPhone Dictionary application here.

September 5, 2011

iPhone Dictionary Application

Leximo, the world's dictionary, is finally out for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

Download here: http://bit.ly/ohZSYh

Simple Dictionary. Minimalistic and too the point.

  • 350,000+ Definitions
  • Works offline without internet connection
  • Share words using email, Facebook and Twitter

Featured on the front page of Digg.com, Reddit.com, Stumbleupon and many more.

The Dictionary Revolution has started!

April 3, 2011

How to Avoid Being "The Ugly American"

The phrase "The Ugly American" was coined by the 1958 novel by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer. Today, it is used as a pejorative epithet for Americans who act differently abroad. A Burmese journalist in the novel says, "A mysterious change seems to come over Americans when they go to a foreign land. They isolate themselves socially. They live pretentiously. They're loud and ostentatious." When traveling, especially for business, this is exactly the type of image one does not want to portray. One should seek to redefine the portrayal of Americans, not to feed into it. Today, we will discuss the top 5 tips for someone who seeks to successfully avoid this increasingly negative stereotype of American travellers:

5) SLOW DOWN AND DO NOT GET MAD. The pace of life in the United States is very fast. This seems like a tired expression, but it is not until you leave the US that you can see this definitely the case. Embrace the opportunity to live a slower pace of life. Expect to spend extensive time at meals and in conversation with locals. This change of pace is something that could definitely benefit stressed out Americans.
4) TRY AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE TO SPEAK THE LANGUAGE. It does not matter if your accent is horrific, the effort it takes to speak basic words of the local language will be noticed. In almost every situation, a local will appreciate the attempt to speak their language over forcing them to speak as much English as they possibly can. Brush up on basic phrases and common questions and you will notice a tremendous difference.
3) DO NOT BE AFRAID TO GO BEYOND THE GUIDEBOOK. Buying a guidebook is an important moment in preparation for an upcoming trip. It helps you plan itineraries, figure out how to get around the city and where you want to stay. There will be times, however, when it is best to go beyond the guidebook.
2) WHEN IN DOUBT, DRESS UP. Dress in the United States is far more casual than it is in several countries abroad. While it may be acceptable to wander around a mall in your pajamas in the US, you cannot do the same while shopping abroad. One enters a store as though they are entering someone's home: you greet the shopkeeper and say hello upon entrance. If you ever find yourself unsure of what to do, dress up instead of dressing down. It cannot hurt to pack a couple nicer outfits to have around just in case. No one wants to find themselves having to dress in the stereotypical t-shirt, sneakers and shorts combo.
And, the most important tip to remember:
1) BLEND IN AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. Remember that people in the country you are visiting have different cultural preferences. While they may listen to some similar music, they probably do not care about the upsets in the NCAA March Madness tournament or the fact that all of the girls have been eliminated before the boys on this season of American Idol. Take your opportunity abroad to immerse yourself in the culture as much as possible. See a local show, watch street musicians and catch a local sports match at a neighborhood pub. After going through customs, you can always catch up on your American reality TV and see whether or not the Yankees won in their series against the Red Sox.

March 5, 2011

Why do we travel abroad?

For many people, there is enough to see and do in their own backyard. Less than 30% of all Americans own passports, according to the US Government Accountability Office, and many of those who do are newly naturalized citizens. When, like most of America, you probably live in an urban or suburban area in which you can buy handbags from Italy and dine on Lo Mein prepared by a Chinese native, why would you have an inherent desire to leave the creature comforts of your own home? Those who have spent time traveling abroad can tell you, the opportunity to travel abroad is an irreplaceable experience.

When I was 9, my parents decided to take us on vacation to Germany. Arriving in the center of Frankfurt, both my sister and I proclaimed we did not understand the value of being there when it looked so much like Disneyworld. In retrospect, this greatly exemplifies the problem with the domestic mentality towards traveling. We oftentimes do not understand the value in traveling to somewhere else, when we have so many creature comforts awaiting us within the confines of our hometowns. There is something rewarding about traveling abroad that we cannot understand until we get our passport stamped going through customs.

Traveling helps you grow as a person. Through travel we explore different cultures, people and history. We can travel for business, for pleasure or for academic purposes. No matter which category we fall into, however, we can all learn from experiences spent in other countries. In a world that has become so highly digitalized, we often suffer from a lack of real world experience. Traveling allows us to confront real people and real experiences that we do not often see while sitting at our desks, typing away and looking up only to grab our Blackberry or iPhone from the opposite side. We are forced to look at maps, to ask for directions, to wander around streets and explore unnkown areas. We are putting ourselves, at least in a physical sense, out of our comfort zone and in contact with something greater than ourselves: a new world.

Even in the most developed countries that are getting Americanized, we see so much from spending time abroad there. In a globalized world that people have argued is getting increasingly "flat," we need to expand our horizons as much as possible, because doing that without the direct contact provided through traveling has become increasingly difficult. And, perhaps one of the best parts of traveling, is knowing that, when we get that US passport control stamp next to our foreign ones, we can defy the longtime expression and come home again.

February 12, 2011

Why English is Insufficient

As someone who grew up attending an International High School that emphasized the importance of foreign language ability, it was shocking to me to find this was an extraordinary circumstance. Only 31% of Americans will leave elementary school with any education in a foreign language. Of these 31%, however, only 20% will be taught in a way that stresses the need for proficiency and does not focus on basic vocabulary. It is also shocking to learn, in most places, English is the only mandatory course for all four years of high school. One can get by with just two years of foreign language and three years of math, but three years of English is out of the question.

The issue facing Americans is the unwillingness to change. Americans used to believe it was sufficient to be proficient in English, because all business was conducted in English as a universal language. With rapid convergence of what were previously developing economies, there is a growing need to communicate in languages other than English. Additionally, we as Americans have grown increasingly reliant on off-shoring and outsourcing, which has heightened our need to communicate with countries like China, India and Brazil. A shocking 24,000 children in the United States are currently enrolled in Chinese, while their counterparts in China encompass a population of over 200 million.

Americans, in my opinion, are unable to cope with the "catch-up" effect and the idea that other economies are now taking off the way in which the United States did during the Industrial Revolution. In time, these economies could pose a dangerous threat to the United States and we need to be ready to approach this issue head-on. In a world where iPods are being produced in China and the city with the most Starbucks locations is in Europe, there is a great need for America to strengthen its ties to other countries. The easiest way to do this is through language.

The solution to this problem is easy and straight-forward: Americans need more exposure to foreign language. This could be done through funding new programs in public schools for foreign language or through a mass media or social networking site. It needs to be understood that foreign language is not a chore, but provides essential tools and can be something that is extremely rewarding. There is no better feeling than being in a foreign country and able to strike up a conversation with a worker at a hotel or a waiter in a restaurant that goes beyond, "Hi, I don't speak ______. Can you help me find ______?" Americans need more exposure to foreign cultures so they can find reasons for which it would be rewarding to travel and to learn more. If we can successfully do this, we too will continue to be dominant in the globalized economy. We must understand that English, alone, is insufficient.

January 9, 2011

13 Questions to Ask an Entrepreneur

I recently interviewed serial entrepreneur Morgan Hermand-Waïche on his latest venture, VisitorsCafe. VisitorsCafe is a feature that transforms any website into a cafe, allowing visitors of any site or blog to talk to each other, while being relevantly matched. It's "Chatroulette meets eHarmony" according to Morgan. Chatroulette lets you video chat with random strangers; but where’s the middle ground? VisitorsCafe connects people who don’t know each other but who are like minded, therefore creating meaningful interactions.

I asked Morgan 13 questions about his experience as an entrepreneur and he was generous enough to share his wisdom.

1. How did you get started with Visitors Cafe?

I got the idea for VisitorsCafe while attending Harvard Business School, as I met students telling me "I have this passion (or pain), but I can't connect with anybody like me...". I then realized that many like-minded people visit their community or news websites without having a simple solution to socialize around the content they share. Skype lets you video chat with your friends, Chatroulette lets you video chat with random strangers, but there is the middle ground? That's when I decided to start VisitorsCafe and enable any site to easily embed it.

2. Is this your first business? If not, what were the others, and what happened to them.

While I was a student in France I started an internet company that connected students to short term housing available in the area. I was accepted in the finals of a contest organized by McKinsey. They ended up offering me a position I accepted, thinking this would build up my experience before jumping into entrepreneurship.

3. How did you finance your business and what was the process like? 

I raised money from angel investors as a student and started VisitorsCafe upon graduation in May 2010. Fund raising was indeed challenging but very rewarding, because I had to make investors believe in my idea as well as in me as an entrepreneur. I think the fact that I truly believe in meaningful connections and that people are ready to embrace them really helped me when talking to investors.

4. How many employees do you have? Full- or part-time?

Our team currently comprises of 7 people, developers and marketers working full-time. We will soon add one to three new members to the team.

5. What is an average workday like for you?

Talking to the team, understanding the market needs, talking to investors, networking within the industry space, etc.

6. Who are your customers? 

Our potential customers are virtually all site owners who want to enhance their visitors' experience by adding interactivity through a smart and safe chat. VisitorsCafe is currently getting a lot of traction among bloggers who use it to talk with their readers, community sites (related to an interest, to a life challenge etc.), dating sites and even commercial sites.

7. What are the most crucial things you have done to grow your business?

Repeating the items of question 5 many times! :)

8. What plans do you have for expansion?

Building partnerships with platforms to increase the distribution and reach of VisitorsCafe.

9. What outsiders have been most important to your business success? (e.g., bankers, accountants, investors, customers, suppliers, mentors, etc.)

Definitely the company's board of advisers, which comprises of famous university professors and successful entrepreneurs.

10. What has been your most effective marketing tactic or technique?

Word of mouth really brought us interest among a great deal of site owners. But the most effective part of our marketing strategy so far has been public relations.

11. What’s the worst business advice you’ve ever received?

I don't recall anything particular. Many people have opinions about many things. As a CEO, you have to listen and make sure you don't go into any direction.

12. What three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today? 

Believe in what you do, learn as much as you can from your or other people's mistakes and take the time to listen to your users.

13.  Do you have an “exit” strategy for getting out of the company?

We will think about this in more details later. Now it's time to grow. 

Well that was a lot of insightful information into the life of a serial entrepreneur. If you have anything to add, don't hesitate to leave a response in the comments or simply contact us.

If you're an awesome individual or organization that's also interested in doing an interview with Leximo, we would be glad to get in touch with you. Shoot us an email at info at Leximo dot org. 

November 17, 2010

Cultures at the Far Edge of the World

With stunning photos and stories, National Geographic Explorer Wade Davis celebrates the extraordinary diversity of the world's indigenous cultures, which are disappearing from the planet at an alarming rate. Edmund Wade Davis (born December 14, 1953) is a noted Canadian anthropologist, ethnobotanist, author and photographer whose work has focused on worldwide indigenous cultures, especially in North and South America and particularly involving the traditional uses and beliefs associated with psychoactive plants.

Davis came to prominence with his 1985 best-selling book The Serpent and the Rainbow about the zombies of Haiti. Davis has published popular articles in Outside, National Geographic, Fortune and Condé Nast Traveler. Davis was born in West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and grew up in Pointe Claire, Quebec. He attended Lower Canada College and later, when his family moved back to British Columbia, Brentwood College School. He received degrees in Biology and Anthropology as well as a Ph.D. in Ethnobotany, all from Harvard University. Mostly through the Harvard Botanical Museum, he spent more than three years in the Amazon and Andes as a plant explorer, living among 15 indigenous groups in eight Latin American nations while making some 6,000 botanical collections.

Davis's work later took him to Haiti to investigate folk preparations implicated in the creation of zombies, an assignment that led to his writing The Serpent and the Rainbow (1985), and Passage of Darkness (1988). The first was an international best-seller, which appeared in 10 languages and was later adapted by Universal Studios into a 1988 horror film that Davis despises. The second reprints material from the first, and is primarily about the theories of how zombies are made, while the first is the story of the investigation. He is author of eight other books, including One River, in which he follows in the footsteps of his mentor, Harvard ethnobotanist Dr. Richard Evans Schultes. Davis is a citizen of Canada, Ireland and the United States. He has worked as a guide, park ranger and forestry engineer. He has conducted ethnographic fieldwork among several indigenous societies of northern Canada. He has published scientific and popular articles on subjects ranging from Haitian Vodou and Amazonian myth and religion to the global biodiversity crisis, the traditional use of psychotropic drugs, and the ethnobotany of South American indigenous peoples. His discussions of drugs such as the Amazonian entheogenic tea ayahuasca reveal how some human uses of psychoactive substances can be profound and culturally enriching.

A research associate of the Institute of Economic Botany of the New York Botanical Garden, Davis is also a board member of the David Suzuki Foundation, Ecotrust, Future Generations, and Cultural Survival — all NGOs dedicated to conservation-based development and the protection of cultural and biological diversity.

Recently his work has taken him to Peru, Borneo, Tibet, the high Arctic, the Orinoco Delta of Venezuela and northern Kenya. Davis's television credits include Earthguide, a 13-part television series on the environment, which he hosted and co-wrote. He hosted the National Geographic and History Television series Light at The Edge of The World. He also wrote for the documentaries Spirit of the Mask, Cry of the Forgotten People, and Forests Forever. Davis is an outspoken conservationist and belongs to many non-governmental organizations that work to preserve biological and cultural diversity.

July 8, 2010

One Month of Global Unity

For the past month or so the entire world has been fixated on the World Cup. It's slowly coming to an end this week but it's been fun while it lasted. Imagine if the world was this united all the time? :-)

I received a lot of my passion for learning about different cultures from watching the World Cup as a kid with my family back in Uganda. I would see all the different people representing their countries from all corners of the globe, and this made me want to learn more about them. So I have a lot of love for the World Cup and being a football (soccer) player makes it more worth while.