Twitter weekly updates for 2014-04-09 – 2014-04-15

Twitter weekly updates for 2014-04-02 – 2014-04-08

Twitter weekly updates for 2014-03-26 – 2014-04-01

Twitter weekly updates for 2014-03-19 – 2014-03-25

Twitter weekly updates for 2014-03-12 – 2014-03-18

St. Patrick’s Day fun fact: the Japanese owe their national anthem to an Irishman

Yes, really:

John William Fenton (March 12, 1828 – April 28, 1890) was an Irish musician, [and] the leader of a military band in Japan at the start of the Meiji period. He is considered… “the father of band music in Japan.” …In 1869, Fenton realized that there was no national anthem; and Japan’s leaders were convinced that a modern nation state needed a national anthem. Initially, Fenton collaborated with Artillery Captain Ōyama Iwao, who…was well versed in Japanese and Chinese literature, [and] agreed to find a suitable Japanese poem that could be set to music. Ōyama is said to have asked Fenton to make the melody for it… The melody was composed and was performed before the Emperor in 1870. As it happened, Fenton had only three weeks to compose the music and a few days to rehearse before performing the anthem to the Emperor. Fenton’s music was only the first version of Kimi ga Yo… The version developed by Franz Eckert using Fenton’s and Hayashi’s themes became the second and current version of Kimi ga Yo.

The Shamrock Maria made for Kai to wear to school on St Patrick's DayThe Shamrock Maria made for Kai to wear to school on St Patrick's Day
The Shamrock Maria made for Kai to wear to school on St Patrick's Day17-Mar-2004 17:53, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 2.8, 5.40625mm, 0.125 sec

And as another example of just how small the world is, Fenton’s first wife is buried in the Yokohama foreigner’s cemetery, which is also where Maria’s family tomb is (her family was native, but they were Catholic…), and he is buried in Santa Cruz, where I went to college.

And since it’s St Patrick’s Day, I’m once again sharing a picture of the Shamrock Maria made for Kai to wear to pre-school back in 2004, to show off his fragmentary Irish heritage.

Twitter weekly updates for 2014-03-05 – 2014-03-11

Twitter weekly updates for 2014-02-26 – 2014-03-04

WordCamp Lancaster

Giving my talk at WordCamp LancasterGiving my talk at WordCamp Lancaster
Giving my talk at WordCamp Lancaster01-Mar-2014 15:11, HTC EVO, 2.0, 3.63mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 222

I’ve lived in the Philly area more than 10 years, and yesterday was my first time visiting Lancaster, because I finally had a good reason to go! I gave a presentation at WordCamp Lancaster. It was the first WordCamp in Lancaster, and had a single track, with web accessibility as the theme:

The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.

– Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web

There were a bunch of great talks. I especially enjoyed Aaron Jorbin’s and David Kennedy’s:

My talk focused on the language aspects of accessibility, which entailed a discussion of internationalization, localization, and character sets. The title alone was a mouthful: “A11Y? I18N? L10N? UTF8? WTF? Understanding the connections between accessibility, internationalization, localization, and character sets” (slides are below). I managed to make people laugh while discussing character encoding, so I must have done something right.

I also enjoyed having the opportunity to meet and talk with George Stephanis
(@daljo628S), who organized the WordCamp, Scott González (@scott_gonzalez) the jQuery UI project lead, and catch up with Jason Coleman (‏@jason_coleman), Liam Dempsey ‏(@liamdempsey), and Eric (@ericandrewlewis).

WordCamp Lancaster also had one of the nicest designs for a WordCamp t-shirt that I’ve seen.

Here are my slides (if you view them on you can see my notes as well), and hopefully the video will be up on soon.

Learning everyday Japanese with Mangajin

In preparation for returning to Japan this summer, I’m brushing up on my Japanese, and I’ve re-discovered some old issues of Mangajin I had stored away in my closet. They are really fun:

Mangajin was a monthly English-language magazine for students of Japanese language and culture. It was distinct from many other magazines of its type in that it unabashedly embraced Japanese popular culture as a learning tool and a route towards rapid acclimation into Japanese society. Each issue featured selections from various popular manga translated into English with detailed cultural and linguistic commentary.

It ceased publication in 1997, as it was unfortunately a bit ahead of its time – Japanese culture and manga didn’t become hip and popular in the US until after that. I managed to get a few back issues when I first studied Japanese 7 years ago. Print copies are no longer available, but scanned copies of the first 30 issues are online.

The example below is one of my favorites. I could have just presented the whole thing as an image, but I’m putting in the Japanese as text, as I need an example of Unicode and multi-language web pages for my WordCamp Lancaster talk this weekend, so this is a perfect opportunity.

What makes it such a great example is that its humor depends on the Japanese grammar. There is no direct translation. In Japanese, the words you use to count collections of objects depends on what kind of objects they are. If you have, say, one ball or one orange you would count it with ikko (ichi for one, combined with ko to indicate a round object). For one small animal, like a monkey, it would be counted as ippiki. There are many different categories.

From the series Urusei Yatsura, Ataru inadvertently summons an interstellar taxi and rides it home from school, racking up a bill equivalent to all the petroleum on Earth. His father, unable to put up with the resulting pandemonium, considers swapping the entire Earth for a ride to another planet. To show the insignificance of the Earth on the interplanetary scale, it’s referred to with the counter -ko, as if it were an orange or a croquette.

A panel from the manga series Urusei Yatsuri, in issue 16 of Mangajin
A panel from the manga series Urusei Yatsuri, in issue 16 of Mangajin26-Feb-2014 16:16
運転手さん、地球 一個分 で どの くらい 飛べる ん だ ね!!
Untenshu-san, Chikyu ikko-bun de dono kurai toberu n da ne
Driver, how far can you take me for one Earth?
地球 一行分 ねえ。。。
Chikyu ikko-bun ne
One Earth’s worth, hmmm…
Sound effects:
Pachi pachi pachi
パチ パチ パチ
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