OOHanzi 0.7 has been released.
As usual please refer to the documentation to know how to use it.
I have not been able to work on getting OOHanzi to work on OS X so I presume it still does not work.
List of changes:
* Updated packaging dependencies for Ubuntu 9.04.
* Performance improvements in “Mark Words Present In…”.
* Added support for variant readings when using “Mark Words Present In…/DDB”.
Suchita Parte is the first artist I am sponsoring.
Now, let me be blunt. A good deal of singing in Sanskrit sounds very stuffy. I’m talking about work which is technically flawless but sounds like it has been recorded 2000 years ago. It is fine but it does not sound very engaging. And this is a best case scenario because additionally there are the atrocious recordings of Westerners who took one Sanskrit class one day and then styled themselves Sanskrit signers. Their heavy Western accent sucks all the elegance out of Sanskrit.
Suchita Parte has broken out of the old stuffy molds. Her singing is grounded in tradition but not confined by it. Her rendition of Vedasārashivastotram is the most beautiful I’ve heard. You can listen to it and to her entire album on Magnatune.
Warning: OOHanzi 0.6 does not seem to be installable on Mac OS X. I have tried this week to install it on a Mac without success. I do not know whether previous versions would work or not.
OOHanzi 0.6 has been released.
Of all the releases of OOHanzi so far this is the one which has required the most work and which contains the most substantial changes. There are significant visible improvements but the bulk of the work happened under the hood and is invisible to regular users.
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I’ve tested OOHanzi in Open Office 3 and have good news to report:
- OOHanzi will work with Open Office 3 without modification.
- There was a bug in Open Office 2.x which affected only people using compiz. If compiz was running, all dialog boxes which were created by the Java virtual machine running in Open Office would be displayed smaller than they should have been. This bug crippled OOHanzi pretty badly. After testing Open Office 3, I found the bug has been fixed.
For instance, the texts at asianclassics.org are encoded in the TibetanMachineWeb font. This font relies on some arcane encoding to produce the proper stacks of consonants, etc. Because of this, the texts offered by that site cannot be used as-is if any kind of sensible information processing is going to be performed on them. It is possible however, to convert those files to Unicode or Wylie. Here’s the process. Unfortunately, it requires Microsoft software. I tried to find a procedure in Linux but my efforts were thwarted. (Also, I was not inclined to test every html2rtf tool available under the sun.) You probably need to have the TibetanMachineWeb fonts installed for this to work.
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Well, the Mandarin intensive at UVA started yesterday. Small class (6 students). That’s good. For me though, the setting is a little weird.
This is my third summer language intensive. I took my second year of Hindi in an intensive summer program at Madison, WI. I took my 4th year of Sanskrit in an intensive summer program in Pune, India. Now I’m taking my first year of Mandarin in an intensive summer program at UVA. For the first two programs, I had to temporarily live away. In Madison, I shared a room with a student from Korea (who was studying something else than Hindi… I don’t remember what). In Pune I shared a flat with an American student who was also in the Sanskrit program. But UVA is where I’m doing my Ph.D. So for the length of the program, I’m just using the same old efficiency I was using during the past academic year. My lodging is the same. The university is the same. In the other programs, I was away from my wife for the whole duration of the program but during this program the isolation will be broken by weekend visits. Somehow, without having to live in a different city, it does not feel like a summer intensive. It’s not like I’m not doing all the work. I’m practicing my pinyin and my Chinese characters to death. There’s just some other intangible element missing.
Then there’s something more tangible missing: my friend Llerena. We took our first year of Hindi together and then went into the summer program together. After that, life took us into different directions. One day during the Hindi intensive, our entire class was walking together. I don’t quite remember what we were doing but what I remember however was that I was mumbling to Llerena that our path was not optimized. Of course, I meant optimized for speed towards our final destination. Instead of taking a direct but more boring route, we took the scenic route which meandered by the lake shore. Llerena just laughed at me and asked, grosso modo: What about how pleasant the walk is? Doesn’t that count? She insightfully pointed out how my obsession with optimizing for speed was flawed: optimizing for speed would have meant sacrificing other, more pleasant, aspects of our walk.
I should drop her a line…
I’ve started using Hardy Heron in its beta incarnation. Right now, it is not possible to use my repository to install OOHanzi on Hardy. The interface to install Open Office extensions has changed very slightly but that causes installation of my extensions to fail. A few notes:
- If you upgrade to Hardy form Gutsy, all the OOHanzi packages will be uninstalled.
- The packaging system will not prevent you from reinstalling OOHanzi on Hardy after you upgrade from Gutsy but the installation will get stuck. So do not install OOHanzi on Hardy by using the automatic method yet.
- It is possible to do a manual installation as documented here.
- It is possible to do a semi-manual installation by installing java-unihan-oosupport from the repository and then installing the oounihan and oohanzi extensions manually. The actual steps to perform this are left as an exercise for the reader.
I’m planning to fix this problem before Hardy goes gold but I have a lot of other things to do so I may delay the release for later. If you use OOHanzi and are just burning to move to Hardy, please leave a comment. It will incite me to do this faster.
I’ve been working on some Chinese extensions for OO but at every step of the way I have to fight with obscure documentation and really strange design decisions. Here’s the latest example. Want to display an image in a dialog? We’re not talking about anything fancy here but just one single image which remains static. There’s nothing dynamic about this. So can you just put in the relative path in the dlg:src parameter which indicates where the image lives (e.g. dlg:src=”../image.jpg”)? No way! That would be way too simple and would violate the spirit of OO which is “why make things simple when you can make them complicated”. Instead you have to create two additional XML files to tell Open Office where to find the image in your extension and then at run time you have to query Open Office to find where the image really lives and load it into your dialog. Yay! The reason for this is that you do not know ahead of time where your extension is going to reside on disk. You’d think a relative path would be rock solid because it is relative to where your extension is located, but no: that does not work. You have to file extra paperwork with Open Office to declare the existence of the images.
(I searched through the dialog files bundled with Open Office to see if I could find something useful in there but what I found were paths like “file://D:/…”. Ooops, I guess even the Open Office developers are having a hard time keeping their paths portable.)
And this is just the latest in a loooooooooooooooooooong series of grievances. Here’s a new motto: “you don’t know the meaning of bondage-and-discipline programing until you’ve tried to write extensions for Open Office.” Open Office is like a bureaucrat: you can’t do anything without filing multiple forms to announce what you want to do and justify it.
References: here, here and here.