Recently, there has been a kind of fad in the west where people get all nostalgic about the days of 8-bit computers. The epitome of the 8-bit computing days was the low-res graphics, with characters typically rendered using the bare minimum number of pixels. Of course, technology has advanced since the days of the Commodore 64, and since the advent of sub-pixel rendering (called ClearType in Windows), in particular, the blockiness of text rendered on a computer screen has become barely perceptible for the Latin (i.e. English) alphabet. However, the Latin alphabet is not the only script in the world, and a more interesting question from the perspective of internationalization and globalization is how more complex scripts are rendered in modern times.
With several thousand characters to contend with, how were the Japanese able to use typewriters before the advent of digital technology? The answer is the kanji typewriter (和文タイプライター or 邦文タイプライター), which was invented by Kyota Sugimoto in 1915. This invention was deemed so important that it was selected as one of the ten greatest Japanese inventions by the Japanese Patent Office during their 100th anniversary celebrations in 1985. Here are some photos of that first model. Read the rest of this entry »
The advent of Unicode has been a huge boon for developers, enabling applications to run on computers throughout the world with little or no effort on the part of the developer. However, there are several quirks in East Asian operating systems that can make applications developed in the west frustrating or difficult to use when installed on an East Asian computer. This post looks at the most basic issues that every application developer should know. Although I focus on Japanese and Windows in this post, many of the issues are equally applicable to Chinese and Korean, as well as other operating systems.
One of the questions that I see come up a lot is about how Japanese text can be written using a computer, mobile phone, or other electronic device. Since it is a fairly important process for understanding the development of technology in Japan, I thought I would detail the process here.
At the end of last year, there were a couple of articles about Japan’s failure to be a giant in the new digital age (Newsweek on Why Apple Isn’t Japanese, and there were some interesting comments in a blog response Japan is no longer a leader in Electronics). Unfortunately, the Newsweek article completely ignores the technical background which forms the basis for Japan’s current position in the digital age. In this post, I want to explore this technical background and show why business-types such as CEO’s and Newsweek readers really do need to understand the underlying technical issues of a problem.
They say that God Intelligent Designer (Who Is Possibly An Alien) (IDWIPAA) works in mysterious ways. So it should come as no surprise that the key to answering the intelligent design vs. evolution debate appeared in a message board post on reddit (a website whose logo, incidentally, is an alien. Coincidence? I think not). At this point, I must give the user “psyne” (possibly his/her real name) credit for the ground-breaking idea of Intelligent Lighting (IL). Let me explain.