Online Taiwanese Dictionary

台語詞典 (Taiwanese dictionary)

Learning Mandarin has been an off-and-on pursuit for me over the past ten or so years. One would think that after this long and with so many friends and family members that speak the language, I would have learned more by now. But where to find the time to really study? (Lately I’ve found that the Pimsleur language program works pretty good, to the point where I’m not sitting there like a smiling idiot just nodding my head at parties and family events and I can actually carry on a conversation.)

And as if that wasn’t enough, really I need to learn to speak Taiwanese too. Because really, most of the Taiwanese people I know don’t speak much Mandarin around the dinner table either. Finding good English-to-Taiwanese language instruction material has been difficult. This little tool goes a long way towards helping me figure this language out.

I should probably create have created a new language category for this blog. Much more on this subject coming soon…


I finally got around to upgrading Yingwen’s old Tangerine iMac to Panther. It’s an improvement on the old machine, sporting 266 MHz of unbridled G3 power and whopping 256 MB of RAM.

We had remodeled our office a bit by taking out the gigantic desk that the iMac was sitting on, replacing it with this swank new futon, and cleaning out the piles of crap that had been collecting in there for years. We were preparing it for an extended mother visit to help out Yingwen with her difficult pregnancy situation.

With the new futon set up and everything cleaned up and organized, I put the old iMac on the desk on the other side of the room. This desk is quite a bit smaller, not a corner unit, but it also had some cool spotlighting that I installed on the above bookshelves and it all seemed to come together with the fashionable relic now sitting there. It looks all retro there with the spotlights, the dark cherry woodwork, and the orange gumdrop form on the desk. I even have a framed Yum poster from Macworld 1999 on the opposite wall, above a red velvet sofa chair I got from Funky Sofa.

With only six GB of internal disk space, I decided to wipe the drive clean and install Panther without Classic. I installed a minimum of software packages with it – in fact, just the default Panther programs for now. The sole function of this machine was to be an internet terminal for my mother-in-law, with activation of the Traditional Chinese keyboard layout, Safari and Mail localized for Traditional Chinese so she can keep in touch, and maybe a little iTunes for ambience. I even connected a trad. Chinese keyboard connected with all the zhuyin and bo po mo fo marks on the key caps, and a new Kensington Optical Elite mouse.

The machine runs significantly better under Panther for these basic tasks. Obviously, the UI is a bit slow overall, but Safari and Mail are quite useable. iTunes runs fine if you don’t try to force the poor machine to render visualizations at full screen.

The machine just won’t die. We got this thing in 1998 I think. It’s got plenty of life left in it. Plus, it adds plenty of cool décor to this room.


TIME 100: The Unknown Rebel

Almost nobody knew his name. Nobody outside his immediate neighborhood had read his words or heard him speak. Nobody knows what happened to him even one hour after his moment in the world’s living rooms. But the man who stood before a column of tanks near Tiananmen Square — June 5, 1989 — may have impressed his image on the global memory more vividly, more intimately than even Sun Yat-sen did. Almost certainly he was seen in his moment of self-transcendence by more people than ever laid eyes on Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein and James Joyce combined.

The image of that one man standing there holding his groceries, blocking a column of advancing tanks, will always inspire me.

Budget-Minded Web Design

Web Design on a Shoestring

I have always been the type of website administrator that constantly sought out ways to streamline the budget. That was mostly out of necessity, working in software startups as the high-tech economy spiraled downward and into oblivion. How can we keep this half-million dollar site running on a $20K budget? How about $10K? How about we take all your budget, lay off your entire staff, give you a pay cut, and leave you holding the website bag all by your little lonesome self?

So that’s why I was interested when I saw Carrie Bickner’s book Web Design on a Shoestring. I was interested to see another poor sot’s experiences with this phenomenon of diminishing budgets and increased expectations. Of course having been through most of it and somehow surviving it all, I found most of the information contained therein to be reaffirmations of things that I already learned the hard way; such as managing scope, planning, usability, good copywriting, content management, reducing server and administration overhead costs, and of course – using web standards. Definitely a good read for any web professional looking for ways to make things work in cost-cutting times.