Sunday, October 31, 2010

Translation of Keyboard Labels into Chinese (or, On Translating Computer Terminology)

Google images and every image search fail.
I ran into this issue trying to teach my grandma to use the computer / trying to explain the difference between all the arrows on the keyboard (take a look--there's the arrow keys, then the enter key, and the backspace key, then there's the random ones on the number keys...)

All I can say is, why?? Why does everyone like taking pictures of the right-side of the keyboard, or low-rez pictures, or pictures with artful blur applied??

And why does google image's algorithms fail in this case? What would be the right search terms? If I try searching for "chinese keyboard labels" I get pictures of keyboards with bopomofo or something crazy stickered all over them, and the "ctrl" etc. keys aren't translated. Wikipedia informs me that tech-savvy people in China just say "Scroll建" (scroll key).* Technical glossaries are out-of-date and definitely don't include translations for "caps lock". **

* (see table at bottom of控制键). 
** (If you know a bit of Chinese, see the right side top search bar at If you don't, for the first drop-down option, pick "英汉" if you want to translate from English to Chinese, then type in your term in the text entry field below it. The "中/英文名 " field tells you the translation).

In China this summer I definitely had issues with technical  / computer terminology in Chinese. My relative asked me if I left my "U 盘" at her house. I was pretty sure I didn't have any dishes that were U-shaped or anything crazy like that. It took a few minutes for me to figure out that that's what USB drives / flash drives are called in China, and I only figured it out by analogy with hard disk, aka "硬盘". Where can I learn this on the Internet?? 

Internet, I am disappointed in you.

Anyway, here's my best guesses, defaulting to more complete translations (大写锁定 instead of caps 锁定). Some are blank still. I should stop punting. I think someone on hall has a Chinese keyboard, so I'll update when I get around to it.

Esc 退出

Tab 制表
Caps Lock 大写锁定 大小写锁定键

Ctrl 控制
Windows Key n/a
Alt 换档
Backspace 回格
Enter 回车
Shift 上档
Task Key

Insert (Ins) 插入
Delete (Del) 删除
Home 起始
End 结束
Page Up (PgUp) 上页
Page Down (PgDn) 下页
Num Lock 数码锁定
Print Screen (Prnt Scrn) 印屏幕
System Request (SysRq) n/a
Scroll Lock 卷动锁定

Pause 暂停
Break n/a
Arrow keys方向键 (上,下,左,友)

I may have failed to mention this, but is a great source for technical term translation. 
e.g. For Chinese: to

(see for a look at how easy it is to volunteer to help translate terms. Well, easy in terms of UI and not personal knowledge of Chinese).

[Edit: 11/7/10]
Oh hey, look, even more useful! Microsoft Language Portal's Terminology Search: If only Launchpad's Rosetta (their translation software that runs on the aforementioned launchpad sites) allowed searching like this as well...

[Edit: 11/8/10] Of course, on further research, all of the links here fail the "U盘 = USB" test. Meh.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Itches (things that I want to make when I'm competent and not hosed) : Calendars, DIYbio, Email for Elderly

Itches I would like scratched / will scratch myself once I both (a) can code and (b) have time:
(above disclaimer added since I don't want to be one of those "I have this cool idea please code it for me" business people...)

Events for MIT: is good but not comprehensive. Instead, I have to manually create a Google calendar entry for each event that gets mailed to me (Autosuggest often doesn't pick up on these emails, for some reason). I think a solution specific to MIT would be used by a lot of people (e.g. Gcal seems confused by our completely-number-based rooms). Some way of mailing events, or some sort of "event ical link" so that I could one-click add them to my calendar would be nice.
Some merging of the calendar feature of Noontime Networks and would be ideal.

Noontime Networks: (a) automatically grabs Stellar calendar information, and (b) lets users share calendars they've created with each other. However, you have to sign-in to access these, and almost everyone on there is a Sloan grad student.

(b) is important because many classes don't have a Stellar calendar, so I have to create my own (e.g. from the syllabus) Existed for one semester, never maintained. Nice idea.

International Email for Elderly:
Because I shouldn't need to teach my grandma how to use Gmail to get an email client in Chinese. She really does not need to know about labels, and the interface is non-intuitive for someone who's not familiar with computers / email. Alice (my best friend) drew a cartoon instruction manual and it's still confusing for her, and I can't explain this long-distance (Boston is a bit chilly for her to move up here =] ).

There are (non-free, non-open-source) email programs for the elderly already, but they're all in English (and being non-open-source, I can't translate them).

Also, keyboards are such fail. Why are there so many different arrows on the keyboard? Why is it difficult to find keyboard translations? (Google Images, I don't want images of super-special keyboards, I want images of normal keyboards sold in China, with backspace and other key names translated, not with weird labels all over the keys).

Right, that's why I want a tablet. **

In addition, I hope that there's good open source tablet software for Chinese character recognition. I did try one variant once a few months ago and didn't find it easy to use (it was an ibus input method, ibus-handwrite). I was trying it out on my netbook, and the input rectangle was awkwardly located right on top of my bottom panel, so that I couldn't reach the ibus icon to turn it off the way I normally do.

Speaking of which, eclectus is an awesome Chinese dictionary tool (it has integrated handwriting recognition, so it's not an input method but inside eclectus you can write words and search for them).

And laoshi looks very promising, although all the example lessons were in traditional Chinese (and they were for beginners). Of course, the goal of Laoshi is that you can make your own lessons.
Eek, I just checked the Laoshi website and looks like it hasn't been touched since the summer. I hope it's still being worked on.

Things that I want to make:
cereal dispenser - for putz breakfast co-op -- this could actually be a nice straightforward weekend project to learn more machining with

hot glue molded  lego gummis, (hot glue is nontoxic, right? Or I could go the Jello mold route. Hmm.) -- kept putting this off because the instructables called for food-grade silicon, and I have this aversion to spending money for some reason >___<;;
 I'm also reluctant to take working (even if obsolete) things apart. This... this creates issues for building things. Seriously, op-amps cost $5. I should simply buy some. (special low-power op-amps, common ones (like LM786 I believe) can be found at MITERS).

weld a breakfast cart?

touch tablet? / email in international languages, calendar for MIT... crowdsourcing of gcal, or email of events) **

isolate bioluminescent bacteria from squid* (who doesn't want a vat of glowing bacteria? =) I want to streak plates and get messages, like bio-art. See (also see Mario bio-art!

* I tried about 2 weeks ago, didn't get any glowing bacteria. Bad squid / wrong kind / not fresh enough, or too high saline content (I had it about 1.5x sea salt content by accident). Or perhaps there was glowing bacteria, I just needed to let my eyes adjust more. (also in Boston) (he's not responsive to email).
Apparently the easier / more rigorous way to go is to find people who know where to order Vibrio directly, but then it's no longer highly accessible to anyone with a kitchen.

Also, missed the DIYbio meetup at Sprout because I was hosed :( I didn't even volunteer at the last Swapfest (the MITERS frosh seem to have it handled, though. Also, the MITERS frosh are awesome this year and make me even more aware of my incompetence).

**Well, tablet was solved with iPad / netbook tablets. (Now that the price for a netbook tablet is under $300, I might just buy one instead of hacking my own by backward-hinging a netbook and a digitizer) (I want it for grandma, but I would be tempted to use it for myself instead >____>)

Punted learning:
Urdu / Hindi (same thing! >__>)
everything in the world ever
how to be awesome / not incompetent / not hosed

Augh, I should stop punting 24.900 (which, by the way, is an awesome class which involves a lot of doing your own fieldwork by studying a friend who speaks a foreign language natively =] ).
(It's Intro to Linguistics)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Surviving MIT

Attended dinner with Committee that's searching for a new dean of engineering.
Yay free food and good conversation! Alex Slocum and Graham Ramsay cooked. They're really involved in ESG as well and are generally amazing. They were also taking lots of Flip video (vlogging) so that other students can enjoy our crazy conversation too.

See for the "Deans getting to know Students" topics: They'll be twice monthly at different dorms.
(this one was in talbot lounge at East Campus)
Course 2 tutors!
They ask that you go to office hours and TAs first. And I should just bug people in my class. I don't mind explaining things, other people shouldn't, right? I'm not actually dragging them down.

Anyway, things that I'm learning at MIT:

Tips: Go to office hours even if you're completely lost and/or haven't started on the pset. It never hurts to go to office hours!

Read over pset when first comes out. Even if it's scary and lots of words you don't know, it'll key your memory for lecture (and help lecture be more concrete and involve your brain more).

Pset groups are amazing. Try to start on pset with other people. Even if you think you're the only one terribly behind or lost, you can at least help other people stay up / be motivated to finish the pset.
The point isn't to evaluate you, it's for you to learn -- so it's if you're stuck or behind and just ask someone to explain a problem to you. Pointers take little time for other people to give, but can save you so much time.

At the dinner, there ended up being lots of course 2 / general talk as well. Discussion: GIRs should included basic "manufacturing" skills such as how to iterate a design. How to create a technical drawing, use solidworks, and manufacture it (get a more complete picture than just milling from a drawing or creating a drawing with no idea how to mill it).
(2.670 failure points) 2.670 is the mandatory course 2 "learn how to machine" class.
6.131: many people come in not knowing how to use an oscilloscope.
Course 6 intro for non-6 people: programming generally useful. (Theoretical physics professor: when people look for UROP, he asks 1. have they ever touched an oscilloscope 2. do they know any programming).
and statistics, since it's needed for almost any experiment/precision engineering.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Gmail Tea House (Fox) theme fixed

Yay my gmail theme changes according to the time of day now.
No longer is it noon eternal!
I wonder who fixed it? Who with magical powers suddenly noticed, and how? What was broken?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

status update

found out today
there is no tabbed pdf reader for ubuntu
(workaround: browser that supports pdfs)

that's silly, should be fixed.

status: actually truly hosed (tooling for entire weekend -- starting friday night -- and still going to be behind)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

triple-booting xp, ubuntu, windows 7

I don't actually use Windows XP ever, I only use Ubuntu. But I'm not sure what to do with all the files on XP. My hard drive is only 60 gb. Ideally, I could just wipe out the xp partition and install windows 7.

However, I have to install Windows to use Solidworks.


I'll be documenting my progress as I go along.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

trips to nyc

if you buy early enough, price Boltbus ~= price chinatown bus (e.g. fung wah) ~= $15. And there is slow internet and power on the Boltbus.

Fung Wah bus runs out of Canal Street, Chinatown NYC, until 11pm.
2 am buses do sell out, at least on the website.

Chinatown shops start closing around 8pm and most of the pastry shops are closed by 9pm.
Fruit seems to be marked up significantly at night, as opposed to midday.

Fung wah tickets are good for any time in the day. Or at least my 7pm one worked fine for 9pm. So probably a good idea to check-in and get in line early if you really need to make some time, because people from other times may join in.

If you can't find a printer, holding your laptop screen up to the check-in window works fine.

8 pm is probably the latest for leaving NYC and catching the Red Line.
The last Red Line train leaves South Station around 12:45 am (not midnight). Earliest one is 5 am. South Station closes at night, so if you're coming in on the bus, stay at the bus station if you're going to wait it out.

Chinatown buses have sketchy accident rates.