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hanyu_xuesheng

My thoughts on Anki 2

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nicostouch

As a long time user of Anki 1 I have to say I was surprised (unpleasantly) at how awkward the new Anki 2 gui was for me to navigate. I played around with it for a bit but decided to stick with Anki 1 (at least for now).

How much has the SRS algorithm been improved? Can anyone comment on it? From what I saw, newly added cards come up much faster than they used to in Anki 1 where you'd have to wait a day to see if you had remembered it or not. It seems like the new Anki 2 first targets the short term memory and then moves to targeting long term memory once you're over that initial hump. If that's the case, I think that's actually a really good strategy. Though I have to say the old Anki 1 SRS algorithm worked pretty swell for me... I wound up building an 18,000 large vocab deck for Japanese over about 2 years with 80% retention. I wonder if the new algorithm could have gotten the retention a little bit higher?

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realmayo

I recently, reluctantly, made the switch after years of Anki 1. It's hard work to change but I think it's going to be worth it, even if there are now a few things that I can't do, or can't do as easily as before.

You mention the algorithm. I'm not sure if I saw anything about it being changed. But I did see something in the manual about how to tweak it yourself to either tighten up or relax your retention rate. I think a retention rate in the 80-90% band is normal for most people on the algorithm's default, at the high end for easier material, at the low end for more difficult decks.

I think (could easily be wrong) that when you refer to "first targetting the short term memory" this isn't really the algorithm working. Instead: when you first see a new card, it is in the "learning" mode, where I don't think the algorithm is at work. Later it will be in the "review" mode, which means it's treated like a normal card in Anki 1, and becomes subject to the algorithm. To get a card out of the learning mode and into the normal, review mode, you need to answer it correctly two or three times in a row, or just answer "Easy" once. Anki then reckons you've learned the card and concentrates on stopping you forgetting it in the future, i.e. as in Anki 1.

The reason I'm happy to forgive Anki 2 any number of problems is because this first initial stage of "learning" is extremely customisable. I wrote that you need to answer it correctly two or three times in a row. That's the default setting. But you can easily change this: in the appropriate box, if you type " 1 10 30 " this means you'll have to get it right three times in a row before it's "learned", and the first interval is one minute, then 10 mins, then 30. I like to spend much longer on this initial review stage, so I'm currently experimenting with " 2 5 10 400 600 1440 2880 ".

Bear in mind I've only just started with Anki 2 so the above may well be subject to correction etc.It is horrible making the switch but overall it was worth it for me.

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Erbse

AnyMemo has its own set of problems, so I gave anki2 a second chance. Couldn't restore the old anki file, but at least this time downloads werent broke. Still unhappy that I lost my progress, but apart from that it works.

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dnevets

When syncing my Anki deck today I got a message that the original Ankiweb will be shutting down on 4th Feb, so I think that means an upgrade to Anki 2 is necessary if anyone still wants to sync and/or review online. I love Anki. I've used it every single day for more than 3.5 years. But I'm still not upgrading to Anki 2 until I know that it has the functions that I find so important in Anki 1.

Seems like Anki 2 now has a usable Pinyin Toolkit, though perhaps not (yet) as good as the one we're used to from Anki 1:

https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups=#!topic/ankisrs/wSb3Paa3ulk%5B151-175-false%5D

Haven't found any mention of whether or not a Hanzistats plugin is available for Anki 2 yet though...

So, Anki 1 it is then. Guess I'll have to sync via my phone's USB cable.

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gougou
Haven't found any mention of whether or not a Hanzistats plugin is available for Anki 2 yet though...

You can see all the available plug-ins here. I don't think there's anything like Hanzistats - which I used to use as well, but don't miss too much.

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Silent
When syncing my Anki deck today I got a message that the original Ankiweb will be shutting down on 4th Feb

I got this message too. Though I'm sure many of the reported problems have been sorted out, I'm somewhat reluctant to upgrade. I'm sure many of the problems have been solved and wonder what would be the best upgrade strategy. First sync to web, install anki2 and download the deck again? How about the media files? In what directory should they be placed? If I read the anki website I see no potential issue's mentioned. If things fail, is it possible to import (backup) anki1 decks directly in anki2?

Edit: Can I expect problems in syncing if anki is not upgraded at all the computers at the same time?

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Olle Linge

I've been using Anki daily for many years and I upgraded to Anki 2 roughly two weeks ago. Most things are working okay, but it took me several hours to figure out how to do some of the things I wanted to do. This is my suggestion to anyone who upgrades: Think of Anki 2 as a completely new program, let's call it iknA. It's not Anki and don't think you know how anything works, because you don't. If you approach iknA as a new program, I think you stand a much better chance of liking it and understanding how it works. I just tried to figure out how to do things on my own and that was incredibly hard. I ended up looking the manual anyway, so my suggestion is to do that before you actually try doing anything. This might not be extremely bad, because this might only be a problem for old users.

The Chinese support works okay, but have several flaws. For instance, the automatic Pinyin completion for anything that doesn't exist in a dictionary is complete garbage. It's so bad that it's easier to input the pinyin manually. I'm talking about sentences and so on. Moreover, I haven't figured out how to get cloze cards working with the Mandarin model for cards generated in Pinyin toolkit. This should definitely be possible, though, I just haven't looked into it. If anyone has, please let me know. To clarify, I can get cloze working easily, I can get Chinese support working easily, but I can't get cloze working for complex cards with many fields at the same time as having Chinese support auto-complete field for me.

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gougou

There were definitely a few things that needed figuring out (and judging by the results to my Google searches, for most of them I wasn't the only one stupefied), but it's maybe not quite as bad as being a new program entirely.

One huge advantage that these days I noticed is that it now supports two-way syncing, so when you haven't made any major changes you can work on your deck on two ends and end up with the rightly synced version afterwards, rather than having to choose one of them to take precedence as in the old version.

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realmayo

While it's still frustrating that there are or two things that used to be really easy in Anki 1 and are now impossible or time-consuming to do in Anki 2, the more I use Anki 2 the more I believe that the gains outweigh the losses.

Also, I'm sure Anki 1 didn't suit my Chinese flashcarding 100% when I started using it, but I adapted to what was available and worked from there. After using it for years it feels that the routine I ended up with was always the obvious and right one for me all along but probably it was simply the method that developed as I worked out what was best for me within the limits of Anki 1. On that basis I'm a bit more open-minded about altering my routine slightly to accommodate the limits of Anki 2, and over the next few years will probably change how I do things to take advantage of some of the new features now on offer.

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edelweis

So how do you synchronize anki 1 through USB?

Do you just copy the .anki file?

Has anyone actually done it successfully?

(I have not tried to do it)

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gougou

I had to do that once or twice when I had syncing problems; you indeed just copy the file.

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edelweis

thanks gougou. So upgrading to anki 2 can wait a little longer...

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Silent

I've upgraded on one computer. Upgrade took a bit of time due to conversion of the decks but went smoothly. The upgrade however messed up my study settings and at first sight there seems no quick and simple way to solve it. Things are further complicated a bit by the fact that my main deck is comprised of several merged decks with their own card templates, tags, etc and contains a lot of duplicates. So it'll take a bit of experimenting to find satisfying settings.

First impression is that Anki two works faster and smoother, but the many changes require getting used to.

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gougou

Well thanks for finding that too. I did actually search the list, but it came up empty because I turned on case-sensitive search a while back and forgot about it - no wonder I couldn't find anything on the Internet anymore!

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Manuel

After reading some of the comments above, I decided to give Anki 2 another chance, and guess what: IT STILL SUCKS. To replay audio I need two clicks, before there was a dedicated GUI button for that. Yes, I know that I can press R on my keyboard to play audio, but I don't want to use the keyboard when I review. A lot of formwer one-clickers now require two or more clicks.

The color picker is still crap, I already made the developer aware of this in v1.01 and he said that to his mind it was fine the way it was. Picking a color should take 1 or 2 clicks, not three, and it should be possible for users to have Anki remember their favourite colours so that you don't have to squint at a large array of colours just to find the one you normally use.

Generally speaking, Anki 2 is an improvement in terms of speed. I also like the new stats. BUT the desktop version is an ergonomic disaster. For me workflow is more important than the new features, so I am sticking with v1. Unfortunately I won't be able to study on a mobile device.

I will add Anki to my list of programs and hardware that once were good and were subsequently buggered up.

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realmayo

Is it possible you've become so habituated to Anki 1 that the changes seem more frustrating than they really should be? If you were a new user, you'd probably be happy enough with Anki 2. Like, if you'd never worn a watch before and you were told it was normal to wear it on your right wrist, you'd be okay with that. But if you've worn a watch on your left wrist for years and then had to switch, you'd be very upset.

Or: perhaps only a few people care about changing colours all the time. And only a few people don't want to use the keyboard to replay audio.

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Manuel

Realmayo, I have become habituated to useful features being accessible with fewer clicks, less menu diving and windows piling on top of each other. When your phone rings you don't need to dive into menus to answer it, it's usually one tap/key-press away (two maybe if you've got keyguard on).

Regarding new users, most of them won’t even know that it is possible to replay audio because the command is buried in a tiny menu in the first place. New users will quietly put up with Anki 2’s GUI & workflow because they are not aware of the greener Anki 1 pastures. So in this case your analogy with the watch is not a very good one, because the watch works the same irrespective of which wrist you wear it on. Perhaps the same watch with and without the minutes hand would be a fairer comparison.

Statistically, most people's computer skills are embarrassingly poor. Out of 100 people maybe only 4-5 will know that the Tab key can be used to move focus to the next input field or control in a website or in a graphical user interface. A similar percentage of people will actually bother exploring software settings, while the rest will blindly stick with the default configuration. I know many long-time Chrome users who still moan about the lack of a Home button (the house button) in the browser, unaware that there is an option to display that button. These people are happy with defaults, and they are not going to come here to post about the things they like or dislike.

Regarding the usefulness/popularity of changing font color: earlier in this thread people were complaining about certain plugin (can't remember the name) not being available for Anki 2. One of the prominent features of this plugin was its ability to color-code chinese characters according to tone automatically. Considering that the plugin is does not always get the tones right (多音字), picking colors manually is important.

Also I find the settings in Anki 2 to be overly complex. I am sure it can be tweaked to perfection, but to do this would take years of research and experimentation, i.e. to actually get a feel for how each parameter affects material retention rates in the long term. If you look closer you'll find that most of the settings (or at least most of the parameters we care to tweak) control Anki’s behaviour for cards in the early stages of revision. Being able to recall material in the short term feels great and is very motivating, but the point of Anki is to remember material for many years to come, therefore saving a day or two at the beginning makes no difference.

In Anki 1 even the "Advanced" settings were simple and self-explanatory, not in Anki 2, which additionally introduces a bunch of new obscure terminology such as "Ease", "Graduating interval", "Subdeck", and "Sibling card".

Another example of crappy workflow: try to reposition a field in the fields list for a given card template. In Anki 1 we had Move Up and Move Down buttons. Very easy to use. For example, to move a field up to the position immediately above it you click the Move Up button once and you are done, How many clicks was that? Mmm, let me count... one. In Anki 2 you first click the Reposition button, a dialog comes up (oh what a shock, another window piling up), then you type in the new row number (mentally subtract 1 from the number already in the input box), and click OK. That's 3 actions and involves two hands, one for typing and one for mousing. If you change your mind, you have to repeat the above steps. If you want to do some serious re-arranging of a long list of fields, you are going to have to manually count the items in order to figure out what number to type. In Anki 1 you simply click the Move Up/Move Down buttons until the field appears where you want it.

Everyone (included Damian Elmes) should be able to see that this is inconvenient, and that the fact that I think the Anki 2 GUI is a step back is not founded on nostalgia or being accustomed to Anki 1.

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hanyu_xuesheng
Everyone (included Damian Elmes) should be able to see that this is inonvenient, and that the fact that I think the Anki 2 GUI is a step back is not founded on nostalgia or being accustomed to Anki 1.

Thank you, Manuel, for your detailed post about Anki 2. I can't agree more.

But I don't expect that Damien Elmes will change his peculiar "software philosophy".

The only thing that has been improved in one of the last releases is the new "Create Deck" button at the bottom.

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Ruben von Zwack

Hello Everybody!

This is my first post in this forum, I found you via "Hacking Chinese" (whose author is writing here too I see, so: Hello Olle, thank you for running such an insightful and encouraging website!)

I am completely new to Anki, in fact it is the first time I use a flash card software or any learning software at all. So I was wondering if maybe some of you got any advice for me on the problems that I came across.

I hope no-one will tell me to read the manual - because I did! Once, twice, and again. Unfortunately my problems remain, and I'm not even a computer challenged person.

I am working with the "New HSK All Levels (1级–6级)" deck I downloaded, because I am studying for an HSK exam.

I tried Chinese Support, but postponed using that to later, because it was just too overwhelming just to recap some simple vocabulary.

And to be able to tweak it to my needs, it looked as if I need quite some knowledge in programming. Which I am actually open to, but I guess it won't be done in a fortnight. I had no prior Anki or CSS knowledge, so it already took me days to be able to tweak my downloaded deck to my liking. So working with the Chinese Support will have to wait until after my exam.

My real problem is customising the study options.

Which is sort of related to the problem I ran into with the Chinese Support: the fact that it is not really easy to customise for someone who does not have some good mathematic and/or programming knowledge or understanding.

I am an art historian, but I have enough IT "nerdiness" to sit down and study a manual and learn some new computing stuff, and even enjoy doing so. But I have been reading and re-reading the manual for days now, fiddling on the settings, and it's getting a little frustrating. Maybe because I have a day job, and my main goal is still to study Chinese, not the art of handling Anki's settings ;) ...

What I aim to do seems simple: to customise things like, set a time-frame to go through my deck within 6 weeks (or 4, rather); tell Anki things like how often to show me a new card; and when I click on "easy", then to rather throw a new card in the game, or repeat one that was difficult, instead of wasting the study session by asking me 100 times how to pronounce and write 家 backwards and forwards.

As I said, I have been studying the manual, and been experimenting with the settings, but most of the time I can't even see what modifying a setting does, like trying to catch a black cat in a black box. The manual is not very helpful there, because it is so abstract and general.

So what I did manually was to flip through word lists and throw the cards that are absolutely too easy out (by tagging them "too-easy" and sending them to a new deck that I created for that purpose). But I feel that this is totally clumsy and can't be how it's intended to work. And it still leaves me with the problem that maybe I encounter a new word and click on "difficult" first, but once I've learnt it, I feel I would rather see some more cards or repeat difficult ones, instead of being confronted with that one word over and over... and over... again.

I hope what I wrote made any sense. Sorry for being lengthy! Any help or opinions will be greatly appreciated!

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