Pool of Knowledge

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

NCEA Resources

Now that NCEA exams are almost over, some of you will no doubt have some resource booklets from exams that you have sat. These are a useful tool for students sitting NCEA exams next year. Why? NZQA does not distribute the resources on the internet the year following an exam.

So, if you have any resource booklets that you want to share, let us know - especially next year. NZQA allow students to download old exams, but unfortunately a lot of them are pointless without the copyright material. Spread some love... I mean resources.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


A new blog that has just popped up and looks like it might be something to look out for, is NoteMaster. Apparently you can upload your study or lecture notes to NoteMaster to share with other students who may need to catch up on missed work or do some extra study.
Don't know whether it will catch on or how useful it will be. However there may be some people out there that require such a service.

Visit Site

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Yay! 50 posts...

We have reached a milestone here at the Pool of Knowledge - fifty posts! That fifty utterly crap posts. At this point I would just like to point out that the 'Search NZ' logo has now been changed to a search bar at the bottom of the page. Feel free to leave comments or email me to let me know what you think, maybe what you'd like to see more of, maybe less of. This would help me to determine whether I am doing a good job or not.

Anyway, to celebrate the amazing anniversary I have decided to publish the first of 'The Very Best of HATCAT'. For those of you who don't know, HATCAT is our sister blog that offers silly news and opinions of history and the world. HATCAT can be viewed here. In the mean time, feel free to read 'The History of Poetry - by Me' from HATCAT.

The History of Poetry - by Me

Poetry, pronounced with a definite ‘T’ sound, comes from a French word poetry, meaning Po and Ry.

What is Po and Ry? I hear you think. Actually the question is where is Po and Ry!

Po and Ry (pronounced ‘poe’ and ‘ree’) were two majestic medieval kingdoms in France. Back then you had royal storytellers, far greater than todays John Grisham’s!

However, the storytellers from Po and Ry were rather pathetic at telling stories, think along the lines of Sam Hunt.

One day the Royal Storytellers from Po and Ry were asked to create a new story. A story so good that no one would ever hear another story as good – ever.

The majestic storytellers knew that if they failed they would surely be killed. So they decided to put their heads together and come up with a revolutionary type of story.

And what they came up with was none other than Poetry!

When the Kings heard this poetry they were furious. What utter drivel!!! The Kings banished their storytellers from their respective kingdoms for eternity. The storytellers were left all alone, with no way of getting food or shelter. It was then that they decided to travel from town to town, province to province, country to country, trying to teach people their new story telling method.

Unfortunately (for them that is – not us), no one liked their new stories. Every town they went to kicked them out. Thankfully the two ex-Royal storytellers soon lost their lives. The last country they visited was a small island off the cost of Africa that was inhabited by carnivorous midgets. The small island dwellers were enraged so much by the horrible poetry that the two storytellers were roasted alive on a spit and devoured by the midgets.

Two things happened. The first being the total and utter destruction of the kingdoms of Po and Ry. Each kingdom blamed the other for the creation of poetry until the argument was ended when both kingdoms were completely wiped out in a bloody battle. To this day no one has heard of the two kingdoms, Po and Ry, except me and that’s why I’m telling you. The second thing that happened was the death of an entire island of carnivorous midgets. The two storytellers gave the midgets such a bad stomach ache that they killed themselves to end the pain.

Sadly though, the storytellers from Po and Ry achieved something. English teachers across the globe, realising they were good for nothing else, started to continue the teaching of poetry to poor souls. And that is why, to this day, we learn poetry.

Study guides

At this time of the year you are either in the middle of practise external exams, or are thinking of beggining to start working towards the end of year exams. Either way, you should be doing some sort of study. Below are the various companies, that I know of, in New Zealand that produce study guides and notes for use in secondary schools.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comStudyPass is a good place to start. This company offers a small range of 'study pass' notes. Basically, it is a years worth of material condensed into a couple of pages. These are particularly useful for revising and making notes with as they cover all the class content and show examples. Due to size contraints, the information is usually displayed and written in a straight forward manner. I highly recommend using these for studying, unfortunately not every subject is covered. Currently the only subjects on offer are; Year 11 Mathematics, Science, Economics and Year 12 Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Year 13 Statistics, Calculus, Physics, Chemistry. They retail at $10.95 each, or $8.50 each if 10 or more are purchased - all orders are delivered for free. However I would suggest you ask someone at school, such as your stationery shop assistant as usually schools can order them in cheaply.

Visit Site

Image hosted by Photobucket.comReally Useful Resources live up to their name! This company offer a large range of revision guides and subject books across all NCEA levels. I have only seen one of these personally and that was the Level 3 Statistics Revision Guide. I think it is amazing! I used to find it annoying that the back of my maths text book only gave me the answer, but not how to work it out. Problem solved - RUR Revision Guides include NCEA questions from all acheivement standards in the subject of interest and include answers which show working as well. I struggle at Statistics, but this book helps me figure out how to answer all the questions.

Visit Site

Image hosted by Photobucket.comProbably the most well known of all study guides is the ESA Publications range. This includes all the 'Start Right Workbooks', 'ESA Study Guides' and 'AME Workbooks'. The ESA Study Guides comprehensively cover all the NCEA exam questions and standards for your topic of choice and provide practise questions, as well as possible answers and essays. ESA offer the widest range I have seen so make sure that you check out their catalogue to find all the books and guides you can for the subject that you want.

Visit Site

Each company offers different ways of purchasing their products as well as different discounts. Before you purchase anything, find out whether your school can buy them for you, buy them cheaper for you, or failing that, how much it would cost to buy them directly from the company. Alternatively, you can check out TradeMe. Occasionaly these books are for sale on there, but of course are second hand and possibly out of date.

Knowledge News

This is a handy and somewhat interesting website that allows you to sign up for a Knowledge News newsletter. Although this service is not free, you can sign up for a trial run which basically shows you what you can expect to get. After the trials runs out you have to pay to continue to receive this service, however I have received extra ones every now and then.

Basically, every day you get sent an email that focusses on one topic and contains all sorts of information about that topic. While I was receiving it I found that usually the newsletters I was sent were about or regarding things that were happening in the world. For example, when that whole Israel thing was going on, I got an email all about the history and conflict in Israel.

This is deffinately worth a look, even if you don't decide to continue the service.

Visit Site

Friday, September 09, 2005

FAQ Farm

FAQ Farm is a question and answer co-op where internet users from around the world can submit questions and have them answered by other internet users, likewise they could answer a question that they know the answer to. The resources remain on the website permanently, and are good sources of information for research projects if you need different opinions and views. My advice is to ask your question as soon as possible because it may not get answered straight away. Still don't know what I'm talking about? Just read the FAQ Farm's own synopsis below.
FAQ Farm is a cooperatively grown database of questions and answers from visitors like you. Your Q&A grows Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that are sorted and preserved as permanent free resources for the Internet community.

Will you take a minute to contribute? You don't need to sign in. If you have a question, simply ask it. If you can help answer a question, please share your knowledge. You're an expert on something and someone out there could use your help.
You can perform Google searches to find the information you are looking for, or you can search through the index of all the various topics that are covered. I have used this site to get some help with my history assignment and found it incredibly useful. Also, the questions don't have to be school or homework orientated, simply check out this link here.

Visit Site


While reading an issue of Chaff, a Massey University student newspaper, I came across an advertisement which is obviously aimed at university students but I do not see why anyone couldn't make use of its services.

I am of course referring to EditWrite. A company that will, for a small cost of 2 cents a word, read and check your essays. A list of costs and payment options can be found here. Apparently they will read your essay and correct spelling, grammar, syntax and word choice. Now you won't keep getting all those annoying green and red lines in Microsoft Word when you are typing your essays.

It seems particularly useful, and because it is reasonably cheap, I will definitely give it a go.

Visit Site

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Treaty of Waitangi

The Treaty of Waitangi is certainly a controversial issue at the moment, especially in regards to the upcoming election. It seems that Don Brash is playing the Treaty card again - perhaps he should has saved his Orewa speech until now? For the latest news on the election and the Treaty you might want to check out the New Zealand Herald website here.

Whether we like it or not, the Treaty of Waitangi is a big part of our lives. Many people will interpret it in different ways, and have varying views on its importance. But what is known is that it is part of what gives this country its identity. It is a part of our culture and heritage. Whether it is right for one racial group to abuse this document and what it means, or whether it is right one another racial group to try and remove it from our society as much as possible is beside the point. There will always be disagreement over the Treaty. I beleive that you should read up on and research the Treaty and form your own opinions regarding the Treaty. For many Year 10 students in New Zealand this is a compulsary part of their education anyway.

A good place to start, for information about the Treaty of Waitangi, is the governments official Treaty website, treatyofwaitangi.govt.nz. Here you can read the what the Treaty actually says, as well as the historical information and events surrounding the Treat and its signing. Case studies and an informative timeline are but some of what is on offer, apart from the ability to send away for free copies of some booklets on the Treaty. This site will be especially helpful for school students studying the Treaty.

If you would like additional information on the treaty, NZHistory.net has a page of Treaty related links here.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Off to University...

I have decided that I will go to Massey University. Until that time I will continue to provide you with helpful links and hints. But once I start attending university I might have to call it quits. But, don't despair - I won't slack off. Stay tuned for university showcases, in which I will discuss in depth what each major university offers. Also, I really need to hear feedback. Do you find this blog helpful? What is it lacking? Let me know!

Life after high school

Now is the time, if you haven't already, to start thinking about what you want to do once you leave or finish high school.
There are many expectations of young people; that they should all go to university and get a degree. This is not the case. If hands one work, or trade work, floats you boat, then go to a polytechnic or seek an aprenticeship. So many people are now going to university that there is a shortage of skilled workers. Want to hear my theory? I believe that eventually the richest people in the country will be tradesmen because they can charge the thousands of university graduates as much as they like because the grads can't even unblock their toilet.
Aside from that random remark, you really need to start thinking about what you are going to after high school. A good place to start is to find out what you are into, take this online test to find out what your interest areas are. Once you've found that out, you can use that to help you decide what it is that you want to do.
Careers.govt.nz is a government agency that can help you to decide what you want to do, read the online information or ring the toll-free hotline.
Don't forget that the best help is sometimes the closest. If you haven't already left school, go and see your careers counsellor. They will be able to provide you with all sorts of information regarding skills that you need, further training and learning, and of course a vast amount of information about any career you inquire about. Also, they may have at their disposal a piece of software very similar to the online one mentioned above.
If you want to go into a trade or something similar, take a look at some of the polytechnics, such as UCOL, to see what they offer that can help you in your chosen profession. Seek and you shall find that the SEEK website lists apprencticeships that are available throughout the county, simply enter your criteria and you're away! See a list of further helpful links at the end of this post.
Perhaps you are going to go to university and study, if that is the case then you can check out the different university websites to see what is on offer. Really, university is a big subject and should have a post all to itself, but this is where you must do your own work. Do some research on the university websites, see what courses they offer, what student services they have, where they are situated, and find their contact details. If you contact someone at a university they will be more than willing to help you in regards to further study and what you need to do. Links to various universities can be found at the bottom of this post.

Further links:
Massey University
Victoria University of Wellington
University of Otago
The University of Auckland
University of Canterbury
The University of Waikato
Tairawhiti Polytechnic
The Open Polytechnic
Western Institute of Technology

Monday, July 25, 2005


Just a quick note about another visual/oral history website. Matapihi is rather similar to the New York Public Library archives and Timeframes.
Matapihi is your window onto the places, events and people of Aotearoa New Zealand. You can search around 50,000 pictures, sounds and objects...
Search through thousands of images on many topics, look through the Matapihi showcases or take a lucky dip!
Visit Site

National Library of New Zealand

The National Library of New Zealand is one of the most helpful places to go to when you are researching a topic for school. The National Library provides a variety of services to help students and teachers with school work and research.
Perform a search using the catalogue and you will be provided with a list of the different resources that the library has available on your topic.
One of my personal favourite resources is Timeframes. This enables you to search through thousands of images which can be used for free in academic stuations, and the best part is you don't actually have to go to the libary to get them. You can simply download them straight from the website, alternatively you can order high quality reproductions.
If you are having difficulty finding the information or items you are after you can ask a librarian personally. The National Libary provides links to AnyQuestions and AskNow!, both of which allow for real time internet chats with librarians to help you.
Whatever you are looking for, the National Library of New Zealand is a great place to start. And don't be put off if you don't live near the National Library, they can get any books you need to you via your local public library. Or sweet talk your teacher and they might get them for you!
Visit Site

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Unlock Google's Full Potential

The other day I had to help my brother do some research for his homework. It was during this that he told me that he didn't really know how to use Google to find what he needs on the internet. So I thought that I would compile a bunch of tips and hints to help you when you are using the internet to search for things.

First you need to decide whether you are looking for specific hard to find information, or just information on a certain topic. If, for example, you were asked to research the small nation of Liechtenstein rather than type Liechtenstein into Google's search engine, you could just use Answers.com and everything you need would be displayed before you. Using Answers.com is very similar to using an encyclopedia such as Encarta.

If Answers.com does not uncover the information you are looking for then you need to use a search engine. For a list of the best search engines, click here. Searh Engine Watch has a helpful article on which search engine is best for each task.

If you decide that a search engine is the best tool for the job, you sometimes can't just type something in and see how you go. Occasionally you must pry the information you are looking for out of the internet. Sometimes 'asking' Google a question works, other times you must search one item or key word in order to uncover what you are actually looking for. This is not always the case, a simple search for Christmas cake recipes will reveal just that. There are a range of helpful sites out there that provide information on how best to use Google, to find what you are looking for, and unlocking secrets. But first off, try Google's own help page.

The Virtual Chase teaches legal students how to do research and as such has a helpful Google hints page.

For additional reading I suggest discovering Google's Top 20 Secrets in this PCMag article.

But by far the best and easiest to use Google tips come from Googleguide.com and can be found here. All the Google shortcuts, tips and search tools are listed in a handy table with examples and links.

My last word of advice is to actually take my advice. I know of someone that when asked to research something will type in what he wants into the address bar of his browser, say www.davidbeckham.com, and if a relevant website is not displayed he then moves onto a different topic and keeps changing his topic until he gets a website. Doing this only works about 10% of the time, and if it does work it is usually only an irrelevant link advertisement site. So, please, use Google and if not Google at least another search engine.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Best viewed with...

...Firefox! Recently I had a look at the Pool of Knowledge on two different computers using Internet Explorer and what was displayed was not very pleasant looking. For some reason this blog does not display properly in Internet Explorer, which is why the Pool of Knowledge heartily endorses Firefox.

Firefox is a great customisable web browser that is more secure and less vunerable than Internet Explorer. Also, when it comes to doing work on the internet, tabbed browsing makes flicking from page to page a breaze!

That is until Internet Explorer 7 comes out, and then I might be singing a whole different tune. But we shall have to wait and see. Until then, if there is someone out there who can help me make the Pool of Knowledge 100% viewable in IE that would be great.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

It's Election time...

For most students in New Zealand this is of no concern, but for the highschool students that are over 18 and for tertiary students it should be a big deal.

Deciding who to vote for can be difficult, and depending on which party you vote for you could get a good or bad deal. Having said that, every politician lies to get voted in and then rarely ever does what they said they would.

A topic that is sure to heat up as the election draws near is student loans and debt. Currently, the student debt stands at $7.4 million with a projected total of $14.9 million by 2020. Not only is it draining tax payers money, but it also puts a strain on the individual who received a student loan to pay it back. Read this Green Party speech to find out the 'detrimental' effect on people that student loans have. I couldn't quite finish the article as I have a hard time taking the Green Party serious. The Ministry of Education website has all the figures on student loans that you would ever want to read; stuff like how much certain loans are, how long different genders and ethnicities take to pay them back, etc. For example, this repayment estimator says that I could be 41 by the time I pay back my loan. Well, that's what they think. I have heard that if you die with a student loan debt that it is cleared and your surviving family does not have to pay it. If that's the case, when I'm an old man I'll die oweing the government millions!!!

That's where politics come into it. Labour, who has been in for what seems like ages, has not yet revealed what their student loan gimmick will be for the election. Not that I will take notice, if they wanted my vote that much they should have changed their scheme a long time ago. National have already released their plan to lure in the votes of the youth of New Zealand, read this New Zealand Herald article about their student loan scheme. Interestingly though, National introduced the student loan scheme in 1992.

To find out the latest news, views and politics regarding the upcoming election be sure to visit the New Zealand Herald election site.

Also, you might want to read up on democracy, or the New Zealand system of government.


And remember, if you're able to vote and don't - you have no right to complain about the result.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Film studies

At school I take Media Studies and English, as well as a bunch of other classes. In each of these classes we have done a film study of sorts, and the great thing about the internet is that you can find all sorts of information about the films you are studying.

The first stop for anything regarding films, or TV shows for that matter, is the Internet Movie Database or IMDb. The IMDb is the place to go to if you need information on anything regarding the film industry. On the front page there is film news, trivia, quizes and recent releases. If you are looking for information on a film, simply search the IMDb website and a list of possible matches are displayed depending on what title you typed in. When you click on the film you want, a vast amount of information is displayed. Everything from the movie poster and tag line, to characters and actors, film soundtrack, goofs, and trivia. Clicking on anything that is underlined will take you to other films and TV shows that are connected by means of theme, song, director, actor, character, reference, to the film you are searching. Register with IMDb and you can participate in the IMDb poll and post in the forum. This really is the place to go, and this blog post is not doing it justice. You must go and view this site. Not only is it great for school, but I find myself going onto to it whenever I watch a film to see who was in what else, and reading any trivia that might be available.

Some information will not be available on IMDb such as film themes and similar information you need when studying a film in school. To remedy this, try posting in the films forum on IMDb, or better yet - Google it! You will be surprised with what you will find.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


It sucks, but it must be done if you wish to acheive well in your exams. I recently stumbled over a Barnes & Noble service called SparkNotes which offers study guides and notes for various topics; English, History, Maths, Science, and a host of other subjects. The best part is that you can view these online for free, or you can pay a small fee and download them to keep. I have had a quick look over some of these notes and they seem quite good. For example I am studying Othello in English this year and found that SparkNote have a character overview, a plot summary, and all the actual play itself. Maybe Shakespeare isn't your thing, the history notes are quite good too. You can find topic overviews, study questions, and tests on a variety of history and other subjects. Also, you must visit the SparkNote community, and if you take media studies or study films in English you can find notes of films aswell.

Virginia Tech University has an excellent site that offers some study tips, and although it is a university site the information contained can certainly be applied to high school studies. Tips and skills offered include how to read a difficult book, the use of acronyms, and how to make notes.

I will certainly be using these websites in future. Let me know what you think, or if you have other study tips or resources that should be listed here.

Don't forget - if you're taking NCEA to check out studyit.org.nz for some excellent help on maths and science.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Say what...?

I have found on a number of occasions that I have needed the use of a translator. Sometimes I got too lazy with my French homework, or sometimes when I was trying to do research the website was in a foreign language. If you have ever had this problem keep reading to find out some easy solutions.

AltaVista offer a translation service called 'Babel Fish Translation' which can translate any text you enter in, as well as websites (provided you enter in a URL), into over 13 languages. For example, using Babel Fish Translation I turned 'take care swimming in the pool of knowledge' into 'Salut la natation dans la piscine de la connaissance'. Or maybe you want to view the entire pool of knowledge in French?

If you are simply looking for one word translation then go to Answers.com translation page that lists words like a dictionary, and when a word is clicked the foreign translations of the word are displayed.

Google seems to be offering everything today. And the same goes for translation services.

With the Google language tools you can search in specific languages in specific countries, translate entered text, or translate websites. Also, you can view Google search in any language you like; choices range from English to Zulu or even Bork, bork, bork!, Hacker, or Elmer Fudd.

Of course there are plenty of free translation services out there, but these are the ones that I most enjoy using. Let me know your opinions and which services you use.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Out with the old, in with the new...

In case you're wondering, which you weren't, I have removed the Pool of Knowledge forum. What's the point in having something that will never be used?

The search functionality has been updated so that the Google search box and the Answers.com 'answer' box are right next to each other, making it easy for you to search the interweb.

Also, in case anyone actually comes to this website I have added some Google advertisements. So, if you have some free time, why not click on some advertisements?

I have started a new section that will become a regular feature in the Pool of Knowledge. Every now and then I will post entirely on one subject, displaying all the best and important links and resources that you would want for the topic.

Have fun swimming in the pool of knowledge!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


History is by far one of my favourite subjects at school. I don't know what attracts me to it, but I love it so. I enjoy reading and learning about the different people and events throughout history.
Most likely, I will end up becoming a history secondary school teacher. Or, maybe I should try and aim for lecturer?
Anywho, I have compiled a bunch of interesting websites that will be helpful if you are taking history at high school like me, or just have an interest in the subject... like me!

The History Channel website is an excellent start. Sure, the acting on some of the documentaries that air is slightly third rate, but the information's all there. Sometimes I turn on the television just planning to watch a few minutes, but the History Channel must use subliminal messages or something because 2 hours later - I'm still there! This website allows visiters to watch archival and video clips, as well as audio. Combine that with an online poll, History Channel TV guide, and an online store and you have a pretty comprehensive website. Hey! You can even find out what happened on your birthday!

You can't go past HyperHistory when doing research. It covers over 3000 years of history. Simply click on the era you want and you are presented with a comprehensive timeline. Click on the event you want and you are taken to that article and provided with an abundance of maps, diagrams and timelines.

New Zealand history? Don't forget about Te Ara! With interlinking text and images Te Ara (Maori for 'the pathway') will help you to learn and understand about New Zealand's natural environment, history, culture, economics and government.

Or perhaps you need help with American history. The History Place offers comprehensive information about America's history from the Declaration of Indepence and the US involvement in World War Two to the Apollo moon landings. The topics covered aren't restricted to American history, Nazi Germany and World War Two, and general world history is also featured. Each article is displayed with photos, illustrations, audio clips, and external links to other sources.

In case I have left any good history sites out, which I have undoubtedly done, check out the Best of History Web Sites. By selecting which period you are researching (Pre History, 20th Century, American History), the Best of History Web Sites will display the best sites regarding your topic. Also, you can search for web sites for lesson plans, multimedia and research. As as the name of the site suggests, it only displays the best history web sites.

If you are sitting NCEA history this year, make sure you check out TKI's exemplar assesments for levels one to five history. These are great for learning how to write essays that will help you achieve at the end of the year.

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