Showing posts from June, 2011

Western names for Chinese names?

Despite being a devoted reader of Asian literature translations, I still have problems remembering all Chinese and Japanese names especially in novels with plenty of characters such as The Dream of the Red Chamber.  Another example would be heroes from Jin Yong's novels - I can remember their fighting techniques but not always their whole names.

Having worked with an Indian company and Chinese company consecutively recently, one of the observations I've made is that in the Indian company, we still called everyone by their Indian names (Dhawal, Zahir, Richa, etc.) which is right and correct.  However, in the international company with a huge Beijing branch of 700 employees, the Chinese employees made the effort to have Westernized nicknames such as Catherine, Julia, and Elle.  I personally love Chinese names and ferverently wish I was good at writing and remembering them.  Yanting Jin, Li Hong, and Yang Xudong  is more unique and fancier than Wendy, Lisa, and Ross.  I'm a f…

Join a Linux wiki - Learn, improve, write, contribute, and add (to your resume)

Working on a community Linux wiki such as openSUSE and Mandriva is a rewarding experience. Some of the benefits are:
Learning conventions and rules in writing for a wiki (each wiki has their own format and templates)Learning more about using Linux or any other technical topic such as Mandriva and openSUSE.Practicing basics in technical writingAdding an additional skill in one's professional resume As a Linux desktop user, I primarily contribute basic articles for new users and solutions to problems I've encountered.  I proofread and add images when needed.  When I come across technical articles, I attempt to reproduce the steps in my own system in the hope I can learn the concepts oultined. 

Both the Mandriva and openSUSE wikis have a sandbox to practice in and extensive help outlining the formatting and rules of writing.  Programmers, Terminal-fans, and web writers familiar with HTML will find it easy to get started but first-timers need to take their time especially when ge…

Travel Tip #62011

Most airlines and airports use military time.  It's a small mistake misinterpreting the time of arrival or time of departure, but it could mean unnecessary rush at the least, a missed flight and huge expenses at the worst.

Over seas part 2

I've always wanted to be a seaman ever since I heard about the term.  I felt though that despite my confidence in swimming, I wasn't physically strong enough (nor tall enough) to work on a boat.  In one of my classes just this year, there was this exceptional gay student who told me his experience on a cruise ship.  He was tall, well-built and was one of the ship's numerous cooks.  His route took him around Malaysia, Singapore, and parts of China.  He had to wake up earlier than anyone to prepare the meals and then prepare the meals for the next day.  It was a contractual position but he was offerred to extend his stay.  I was pretty sure they liked his cooking or they wouldn't have asked.

Sleeping, he said, wasn't much of an issue despite clocking minimal number of hours per night.  The claustrophobia inside the bunkers wasn't so bad either.  But the loneliness was too much.  He missed his boyfriend terribly and eventually he disembarked after the first contra…

Over seas part 1

Working abroad provides more memorable and educational experiences than touring a country.  Some people are proud to have visited 11 countries ... for 3 days each.  There really isn't anything you can learn much from another land if you paid for a package of 3 days and 2 nights and shopped 70% of the the time.

The truth is that overseas contract workers and overseas foreign workers have the biggest wealth of experience.  They acquire languages, understand the people, experience the government, and (sometimes) are forced to ingest the food.

One of my students used to work as a cabin attendant in a cruise ship that plied the routes of South America.  She awed me with her tales of the places she visited and her travails as cabin crew.  She worked with Hungarians, Slavs, Bosnians, British, and many Europeans during her stay.  She told me how the Russian women, tall and imposing, scolded her if she made even a bit of noise at night.  The Indians she worked with were competitive and pr…

Quick Fix: Issues with Network Manager

openSUSE may occasionally encounter issues with wireless.  For home networks or WEP-secured wireless networks, it won't have issues.  However, for public wireless networks, specifically one's that are set up in coffee shops and airports, the Network Manager would suddenly ignore any attempts to connect to a network.

Symptoms include the message Unavailable after clicking on connect after a minute of attempting to register an IP address.  The KNetwork Manager would detect all public wireless networks without any problems but would keep displaying the AddNetwork Connection - KDE control manager.

Follow the steps below to add the network manually:

1.  Double-click the Network Manager icon on the System Tray.
2.  Click Manage Connections
3.  On the Wireless tab, click Add.
4. On the Add Network Connection window, switch to the Wireless tab, and click Scan.
5. Available Wireless networks will be displayed visually.  Maximize the window, if needed or click the View option and switch…

Quick Fix: No touchpad tapping

Although openSUSE supports touchpads on laptops, the single-tap and double-tap feature (which is equal to the left-click and right-click of the mouse respectively) may be turned off by default on first boot or after creating a new User.

To enable the touchpad's single-tap and double-tap feature:

1. Click the openSUSE KDE Kickoff
2. Click Configure Desktop
3. In the General tab, scroll down to Computer Administration, and click Keyboard & Mouse.

4. The Keyboard & Mouse window, click Touchpad and then Touchpad configuration.

5.  In the Mouse clicks triggered by tapping section, change the tapping with one finger option to Left mouse button

6. Change the mouse areas settings and 2-finger and 3-finger settings if the Touchpad device on the laptop supports the feature.
7. Click Apply.

Take note that this not change the default single mouse  click to open files and applications.  To change this setting click the General tab and click the option Double-click to open files and fo…

Eating satay in Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur

There are many crows in the city of KL.  Among other things, first-time visitors will remember the right-hand side wheel-driven cars, the Muslim architecture, the clean functional train system, and the odd (incorrect) feeling that KL is just an extension of Singapore's Little India.  One thing to remember - it's also easier to remember the names of the streets if you planned your trip on your own.

Chinatown anywhere in the world is a familiar and comfortable place for most Asians - even in Asia.  A little past midnight, the street night market owners and proprietors are cleaning up.  Unlike Manila or even Hong Kong, there's not much drinking to be had and it certainly isn't noisy in Jlan Sultan.   If you're wearing an interesting shirt, one of the locals might call out to you in a distinctive drawl, "Ghost-basters!  Nice, shirt!"  He's not drunk.  He's just being nice.  There's McDonald's across the street and at least four types of conve…

Linux Universe

Technology is a universal language that crosses all boundaries.  "Hardware compatibility" and "software compatibility" are inadequate to describe how applied tech works wherever you go in the world.

Even though I'm a fan of Linux, it is still a pleasant surprise when Linux works perfectly in places where it may seem misplaced - such as Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur.  These are the experiences tech users take for granted.  There's a certain smug satisfaction that Wi-fi, protected or otherwise, is easy prey to a distribution like openSUSE wherever you are.  I'm ashamed to admit that there are still trips overseas that makes me think twice about bringing my openSUSE-powered netbook rather than my dual-booted Windows 7-Ubuntu portable.  And then it all works out just fine.    

Li Na - Empress of the Open

29 year old Li Na, who admitted weakness in a clay court, was the first Asian to win a grand slam-title in tennis.  She capped off a fantastic performance in the French Open, where the homecourt advantage was not hers.  Asia was united in celebrating her victory after her triump.  Economic and political rivals Japan, Taiwan, and China all rejoiced at her athletic milestone, posting accolades and enthusiastic articles all over the web and in print.  Truly, this is a marvelous time to be Asian and all of us await further successes in the coming Asian millennium.

See who it's all about here.

Gantz - Manga come to Life

For decades now, the Japanese, Korean, and Chinese movie/TV industry have worked to put on celluloid brilliant stories originally produced in print.  One of the more popular forms of literature in Asia (with its numerous terms and subcultures) is manga.  Gantz (2011) is only one of the dozens of films produced each year to translate the medium into celluloid.  Having read the first dozen or so chapters of this wildly violent and affecting series, I can only say the movie had succeeded in bringing out the elements that made the original manga an entertaining read.  From the mysterious rebirths of the characters to Kei's hormonal urges, the film stays true to Gantz's main themes.

Although sacrificing several characters and changing scenes and plots (while reducing the violence and sex) may trigger an onrush of resentment and loathing from purist fans, the script and dialogue is fresh and creative ensuring that it maintains a level of authenticity despite the limited running time.…

Using Evolution and openOffice Writer to publish an e-mail Newsletter

Evolution is the default e-mail client for many Linux distributions including UbuntuopenOffice's Writer, on the other hand, is widely in use as the alternate word processor of choice.  Writer is more than adequate for producing e-mailing newsletters but unlike Microsoft Outlook, Evolution cannot e-mail the document as the body of the message. 

To send an .odt file as the body of an e-mail, follow the steps below:

1. In Evolution, create a new e-mail by clicking New.

 2. In the Compose Message window, select the drop-down menu from Plain Text to HTML.

3. Select all the objects, text, images, and tables in Writer, press Ctrl+C, and then paste it on to the body of the e-mail message in Evolution.

4. The text and tables will be copied into the new e-mail message but the images will not be.  Manually select and copy the images in Writer, then paste it in the correct places within the e-mail.     5. Take note that the e-mail/newsletter's layouts in Evolution will follow the same rule…

In Praise of Knoppix on a Flash Drive

Knoppix 6.2 may be an odd distribution to write about considering that it isn't the latest release nor is it as popular as Ubuntu or Linux Mint - all the more reason it's the perfect topic in praise of Linux's achievements so close to its anniversary. 

I've been carrying Knoppix 6.2 in a Transcend USB Flash Drive since it's release.  I've always been meaning to format the USB stick and upgrade to a later release but the truth is, I've never really needed to.  Although a portable Linux distribution does not get as much use as a full install of openSUSE on a netbook or Ubuntu on an ultraportable (or even Mandriva as a VirtualBox guest), it has been invaluable anywhere outside my home.  Workplace IT notwithstanding, Knoppix can boot into any desktops I've gotten my hands on.  It's nice to know that workstation and Internet cafe limitations can easily be bypassed with a quick (and I do mean quick) boot into Knoppix (which I've written about in a pr…

A New Unified Asia?

"Let's call ourselves 'Asians' from now on, rather than calling us by our different nationalities," said Zhao Qizheng, chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, China's top political advisory body, at the recently held Jeju Forum in South Korea. Admittedly, it's a surprise to hear a quote regarding a unified Asian concept.  Asia, historically, has never been quite defined by any  means (even geographically and politically).  Even today, with issues over the boundaries of the South China Sea and the endless ripostes between Taiwan and China, it is clear that Asia is an unqualified concept.  Some historians even believe that Asia is nothing more than a generic term for any area opposite Europe and the Americas.  In addition, the hatred and bitterness between Asian nations has only become reinforced over t…

Uninterrupted Screen Captures using Shutter - Saving multiple files

Windows users have the popular (but expensive) SnagIt.  For Linux users, every Linux distribution comes with a functional screen shot program.  Gnome has Take Screenshot and KDE comes with KSnapshot.  However, for power users, there is the feature-rich Shutter that comes with menus for each application open, cursor option, delay, Full Screen options (for every desktop), Selection options, and Export options to online services (e.g. Ubuntu One) - all in one interface.

Screenshots can be launched easily from the Shutter icon on the System Tray.

 After taking numerous screenshots of menus, desktops, windows, and icons.  All of the images displayed in the tabs can be saved and named easily at the same time. This saves users from having to save screenshots individually after each capture. 

Click on the video below to watch how to save multiple files in Shutter.

Tools: Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications

The Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications is a 400-page book worth a look for budding technical writers, especially those interested in writing technical books on Windows-based systems and applications.  It's robust and even includes an ebook for quick searches for topics such as how to format guidelines and how to structure a readme file.  With wikis all over the Internet and blogs and web sites providing step-by-step tutorials, it's nice to know there's the right way to write and construct technical documents.  Some of the more especially useful sections in this reference book are common style problems, writing indexes, and the usage dictionary (e.g. Administrator program not Administrator Program). Even the initial chapter regarding callouts, writing steps, (e.g. click x, then click y), screen terminology, and key names are very useful and surprisingly applicable to technical writers working on a different platform (such as Linux).   

Although the word Mi…

Use KeepNote as a Robohelp Alternative

Adobe Robohelp is the default product used by technical professionals for creating Windows Help files (.chm), WebHelp, or Flash Help files.  For users opting for a cheaper product, there are many hierarchical note-taking software such as Notecase (cross-platform), Kjots, and BasketNotes that can export to a web site complete with a navigation frame and links across HTML pages.  KeepNote works in Windows and Linux and rivals OneNote in features and usability.

KeepNote supports images (unlike other note-taking applications such as KJots), HTML, and even captures screenshots directly from the Notebook.

After organizing files or the wiki project, save the Notebook.  To export a KeepNote Notebook to an HTML folder, click File then Export Notebook

KeepNote creates a folder with the necessary Index.html, xml, and child folders.  Formatting is already finished and open the Index.html file using a browser to preview the HTML-based "Help" file.

Further HTML modifications are easily d…

MS Word 2007-2010 Corporate Newsletter Part 1: Send a Newsletter as E-mail Body using Microsoft Outlook

When working in a corporate company employees are normally limited in their desktop publishing software especially if the industry doesn't call for it.  But the absence of powerful software such as CorelDraw and Illustrator and even Publisher isn't a problem with Microsoft Word 2007/2010 if a standard communication such as a newsletter is called for.
Word 2007/2010 lacks locking and object management features but its image and formatting options are more than adequate (plus plenty of great templates available from MS OfficeOnline) to produce brilliant newsletters.  In many ways, Word 2007/2010 is superior to MS Publisher, which was designed especially for desktop publishing, but experiences issues when producing online documents.
After building a newsletter in Word, the document can be sent directly to e-mail clients without losing visual fidelity via the Send to Mail command.  The document will display in the e-mail's body and will not be a separate attachment (a differen…

Review: The Book of Five Circles - Miyamoto Musashi trans. by John Cleary (Shambhala Classics)

Shambhala classics categorised The Book of Five Circles as Business/Martial Arts. Moreover, the back of the book asserts that it was written "not only for martial artists but for leaders in all professions." Obviously, these descriptions are exaggerations in an effort to market the book to the modern capitalist consumer ignorant of the traditions and nature of the samurai that was Musashi Miyamoto (In the same respect, businessman who proudly claim that "The Art of War" is their bible fail to understand what the book was really about).

The truth is The Book of Five Circles must be read plainly without any preconceived notions of what it is suppose to tell you about business or career. It must be read and understood as a whole the way Musashi Miyamoto had intended it to be -- as a treatise on the samurai way and the nature of engagements. Never mind that it "symbolizes processes of struggle and mastery in all concerns and walks of life. (xii)" The understa…