Latest posts for tag taiwan

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Apparently, yesterday we had the first OpenStreetMap event in Taiwan!

We met in a café/restaurant equipped with power plug, wireless network and overhead projector and we had a bit of an introduction, chat and lunch.

Then we split in groups and exploited the fact that the newly built underground (KMRT) system is still free of charge, to spread around and map around the stations.

Finally, we reconvened at someone's house to see how to put the data together, draw roads, tag and upload.

Highlights of the day:

  • How to turn a serial GPS into a data logger with 6 hours battery life [[!img 2008/osm-taiwan-gps-logger.jpg ald="Lloyd showing the homemade GPS logger"]]. Then attach it to your bike using magnets from broken hard drives. Totally rocks!
  • Previous OpenStreetMap data was collected by only one person, who took the fancy new High Speed Rail from the opposite side of the country and joined the party. This also made discussion about standardising tags for Taiwan rather easy.
  • A group of people appeared wielding a number of "totally insane in every regard" Garmin GPSMAP units: it turns out they are with a civil action group that goes around mapping historical trails, abandoned railroads, aboriginal routes and mountain crosses and so on. Apparently, they did not know about OpenStreetMap: hopefully they'll join in.

Technical bits:

  • The eeePC was very popular, and very handy for going around storing tracks, as you can just chuck it in one bag. JOSM runs fine, although it could really use an interface redesign to fit in the small screen. In fact, it could really use an interface redesign to fit in the standard 1024x768 screen of my laptop.
  • We could not use the tracks made with the Garmins because we did not know we had to do "Setup -> Map -> Lock On Road = Off" and it was on by default. Now we know it for next time.
  • Something like a SirfStarIII really helps in a city made mainly of very tall buildings with lots of steel and glass. My Sony-based cheap gps receiver that worked ok in the Bolognese countryside was next to useless here, continously losing the fix and producing a crazy zigzagging track of doom, only useful to figure out big long straight roads.
  • Geocorrelation of digital camera pictures rocks! Who needs to store waypoints when you can just take pictures with the digital camera and have them show up as waypoints in JOSM? The trick of taking a picture of the GPS time and use that to compute time offset is great. Also, we found it easier to just fire up gpscorrelate to do the geocorrelation rather than figuring out how the tools in JOSM work.

Issues to address:

  • There is a strong need for a zh_TW translation plugin of JOSM; I'll try to find out how to do it and pass on the information to who can do it.
  • Road names could be written either in English or in Chinese characters. Currently English has been used for the name tag because osmarender cannot render Chinese characters. There is some planining to create an OSM mirror in Taiwan which renders twice, and allows to choose the rendering language for the map. I will try to get a planet.osm extract for Taiwan that people can use to experiment with this; thanks to people in #osm for giving me names of people to contact. I will try later after Europe wakes up from this even-earlier-than-usual sunday morning.

I'm currently in Cilamitay, in the east of Taiwan. There is a little meeting of Taiwanese Free Software people and people from the Amis, Taroko and Puyuma tribes, with the idea of starting localisation efforts for some aboriginal languages.

These are some of the issues we are going to discuss:

Language code

A new ISO standard (639-3) will hopefully be formalised in January that will include the language codes for the Taiwanese aboriginal tribes. We'll have to work some temporary solution, but there's good hope that it won't have to be temporary for long.

List of characters

Because of Christian missionary influence, both Amis and Taroko use a roman alphabet, with accents. We need to work out the complete list of character and accent combination, see if everything is in Unicode, see how they sort.

We then need to find a comfortable way to input them using the keyboards normally available here (English US layout): compose key? Dead keys? How about on Windows?

Womble2 on IRC tells me that on Windows one can works with MSKLC.

Technical terms and country list

We need to work out how to map terms that do not exist in the language.

Technical terms are usually borrowed from Japanese.

Names for all the countries in the world probably do not exist.

Translation interface

We need to find an easy to use interface to input the translations.

There is Rosetta.

There is Pootle. (Thanks to Christian Perrier for pointing me at it)

There is Webpot.

Update: there is now a wiki page on the Debian wiki.

Arne Götje (高盛華) created:

The scripts, especially Amis, make heavy use of Unicode combination characters. They should display well at least with the Dejavu Sans font in many applications.

Try it out: if it displays correctly, you should see:

  • accented letters instead of letters next to accents.
  • i with both the dot and the accent.

Update: there is now a wiki page on the Debian wiki.

We mapped the available glyphs and accents for the Paiwan language.

The letters in alphabetical order:

a b c d e f h i j k l m n p q r s t u v w y z ḏ nġ ḻ ṟ ṯ

No uppercase.

Update: this character list has been improved and the good version is found in the Debian wiki.

All the characters are in Unicode except nġ, which already needs to be requested for the Amis script.

We need to design an input method to enter the underlined letters and the nġ.

Update: there is now a wiki page on the Debian wiki.

A year ago we got in touch with various Taiwanese aboriginal tribes to try to start localisation efforts.

Thanks to the research the Taroko people did during 2007 and the prototype work of tonight, the Taroko people in Taiwan can see the computer calendar of the new year in their own language:

![Bottles with 'Champagne Soda' label](cham-all.jpg)
!['Champagne Soda' label close-up](cham-1.jpg) !['Champagne Soda' label close-up](cham-2.jpg)
!['Champagne Soda' label close-up](cham-3.jpg) !['Champagne Soda' label close-up](cham-4.jpg)

The way to freak out an Italian, instead, is to show them a bottle of "Lambrini" in the UK.

Korean car with Taiwanese license plate (edited to anonymise it) over EU license plate with (Portuguese??) numbers on the right, and Korea as country code.

Italian pasta sold by a British supermarket, in Taiwan.

Also, "Messicani" is not a kind of Italian pasta. Google for it, and you'll only find it mentioned in British websites.

Being in Taiwan, we swiftly got hold of an Eeepc.

Instead of installing Debian into it, we decided to keep the original system and see how it works. It's a Debian derivative, and the feeling inside a terminal window is quite familiar.

The boot is very fast. Two seconds after the video bios quickly shows on the screen, the X cursor appears. It's definitely worth having a look at how this devil boots.

The "Asus Launcher" is worth a look. IMHO it's nicer and more useful than the usual launcher menu that we get in Gnome or KDE 3, although it probably only makes sense on a small display. It replaces the desktop background, has tabs, no clutter and allows to launch applications. Turns out it's customisable as well.

What's on the system

KDE 3.4.2, with some applications renamed so that their names are more human. For example, konsole became console.

vim! \o/ But not emacs :)

mc! Someone out there wanted to make my life easier.

fbreader. I had never heard of it, but it's a very good discovery that I've now started to use it on my laptop as well.

Little howtos

To get to a terminal, hit Ctrl+T in the file manager, or Ctrl+Alt+T elsewhere.

The root password is the same as the user password.

To change the system language, I managed with a simple dpkg-reconfigure locales.

Ways they simplified the unix system

It's single user: I didn't find a way to create multiple users besides the terminal, and the login program does not ask for a username, only for the password.

The "win" key has a house painted on it, and it's used as "hide/show all applications" key. When all applications are minimised, the Asus launcher is visible instead of the X background: this behaviour basically turns the key into a sort of "run application" key. The key still works as a kind of shift, although it probably was not intended to.

The repository management is interesting. /etc/apt/sources.list contains:

deb p701 main
deb p701 main

which means they have a repository per eepc model and a subrepository per localised version.

The "Internet" group of applications has a Wikipedia toplevel application: it's nice to see the ecosystem of free software / free culture coming together to provide a nice user experience.

An extra link to the SD card mount point (besides the one in /mount) appears in the home directory automatically when the SD card is inserted. This means that when you do "save as" from all sorts of applications, the SD card is there, easy to reach. This helps if one decides not to use the internal flash for data, and just save everything in the SD card: I like doing this, as it allows me to quickly move the SD card with all the data between the EeePC and other computers.

Changes I made so far

Activate en_GB.UTF-8 via dpkg-reconfigure locales.

Add en_GB.UTF-8 to /etc/scim/global, to get SCIM input methods to work.

Little flaws

Virtual screens are enabled, so W+arrow switches virtual screen. The feeling you get if you hit W+arrow is that all your applications disappeared. This could be improved by having the vm keep the asus launcher at the bottom of the current virtual screen, instead of just at the bottom of the first screen. Or, to disable virtual screens by default.

It is possible to drag the lower panel around, maybe accidentally: that's another of our fancy default "features" that should be disabled by default.

It is also possible to remove applets from the applet bar by mistake: for example I wanted to disconenct the wireless, and I instead ended up quitting the wireless applet. Luckily, the next time I started the computer it magically came back.

~/.xsession-errors is continuously getting the useless stdout/stderr debugging flood of GUI apps. Noone bothers usually, except that in this case the file is on flash, where unneeded writes are also very much unwanted. I'm considering symlinking it to /dev/null, but ideally we should get GUI apps to only write out what is really important.

Battery charging doesn't show how long it is going to take until the battery is fully charged.

No capslock or numlock leds. This probably calls for disabling or remapping of capslock. Numlock is very hard to hit by accident, but capslock is.

Random thoughts

If you buy an eeepc, I really suggest you think of it a mass consumption appliance and stay on the original OS for a while. Most of what's in here is what we use everyday, just on a different context. Try to use it as an appliance and see if it is perfect, and if it isn't, try to find out what is missing. It is a fantastic way to find out important bits that are missing in Debian as well.

Also, if you're used to tailoring everything to yourself before starting to use a Linux system, this is a great way to try the usage experience that we can offer by default. The Firefox welcome page the first time you connect, for example, is surprisingly nice. Everything we know as doable comes a bit as as a surprise because this time someone has done it for us.

I wish that that someone can be invited to talk at the next Debconf: the possibility of having a look at the work that has been done in bending Debian to this nice little device is to me one of the most valuable things so far about the eeepc.

Help/About KDE/Credits

It's reachable by most applications, and says:

The development team would like to thank the following people and organizations for their contributions:

  • the Debian Project,
  • the GNU Project,
  • the KDE Project,
  • the Mozilla Project,
  • the Project,
  • the SAMBA Project,
  • the X.Org Foundation,

Linus Torvalds and the other Linux kernel developers, and Free software developers around the world.

I'm using an appliance that is thanking me, and others like me: priceless!

We mapped the available glyphs and accents for the Amis language.

The letters in alphabetical order:

    a c d f ng h i k l m n o p r s t u w y

Everyone of them can get an acute or circumflex accent on top. ng can get a dot on top of the g.

The accents are literally on top: i would get the dot PLUS the accent on top.

Not all accented characters directly exist in Unicode; however Unicode developed various kinds of combination features to take care of these cases.

Then we need an input method that would insert ng instead of g and allow to type all the accent combinations.

Here is the full character set:

    a     á    â
    c     ć    ĉ
    d     d́    d̂
    f     f́    f̂
    ng    nǵ   nĝ  nġ
    h     h́    ĥ
    i     i̇́    i̇̂
    k     ḱ    k̂
    l     ĺ    l̂
    m     ḿ    m̂
    n     ń    n̂
    o     ó    ô
    p     ṕ    p̂
    r     ŕ    r̂
    s     ś    ŝ
    t     t́    t̂
    u     ú    û
    w     ẃ    ŵ
    y     ý    ŷ

Update: this character list has been improved and the good version is found in the Debian wiki.

The list is not displayed correctly with many fonts or rendering engines. Arne made a test page that explicitly sets a font that works.

The accents are not taken into account when sorting.

Uppercase letters are not used.

Note: the page has been updated to reflect further input from Unicode and Amis people.

Update: there is now a wiki page on the Debian wiki.