国立情報学研究所〔五〕

Month five of six nine!

Anki was not bad; sport very much insufficient; most importantly though my stay got extended by 3 months. :) Time to take a step back, shake off the oh no I'm leaving in a few weeks mindset and take a deep breath. :3

Anyway, here's the listy thing:

  • general
    • went to a meetup for people interested in i18n/l10n innovations and found myself walking up to a nice reception lady in front of a room with classic music playing and not a single person not wearing a suit in it — until I entered, that is. After reassurance of the event's host that this is a casual get-together, an immensely butchered self introduction to the group from my side, free Dr. Pepper and some interesting presentations, the following 懇親会 was great though. Exchanged a lot of 名刺 and had good conversations with the folks there
    • had my frist proper VR experience (as in not just a headset) in the form of a planetarium / VR attraction using a Japanese VR system called ABAL
    • watched Stranger Things, ちはやふる -結び- and way too much AoE2 videos on YouTube
    • finally did some geocaching in the area where I'm living currently
  • at the institute
    • diving deep into linked data stuff lately (if someone knows how to configure a few arbitrary* inference rules for data stored and accessed through a Fuseki 3.6 instance PLEASE tell me)
      *meaning not just RDFS or OWL statements
    • arranged my workspace as a standing desk (very improvised but it works)

On to the not last month!

Mixed language content

A few days ago I was wasting a few seconds on Facebook, scrolling down the newsfeed, and was suprised to see a short Japanese post, 「残念だな」, by someone I was pretty sure doesn't know Japanese. Upon closer inspection it turned out Facebook had translated their German post into the language my account is set to display. This made me very aware — for a moment — that the fact in which language something is written carries information. Why did they suddenly post in Japanese? (Well ... they didn't.)
If, let's say, a Chinese acquaintance of whom I know that they don't know any German sent me birthday whishes in German, then they went through the trouble of goolging for German birthday whishes, using Google Translate or asking someone. In a similar fashion I report of elevators saying 「本日はご苦労様でした」 at my lab — because they do so in Japanese. Other times using a word from another language is just more concise and feels more accurate. Instead of talking about "a type of bicycle with a front basked often used by mothers" or leaving out information and just writing "bicycle" I name the thing by its name and say 「ママチャリ」.

The obvious problem with this is that my recent blog posts only really make sense to people that can read English and — at least some — Japanese. This made me think about working with Accept-Language headers. Just parse what a user's browser tells me about their language capabilities and display content accordingly.

To figure out how I'd go about the display content accordingly part I googled "mixed language web content" and similar things. This yielded a lot of SEO articles saying DON'T!, a few W3C resources on how to mark and style parts of text depending on language and even an interesting looking book titled Language Mixing and Code-Switching in Writing. No solution though for my balancing act between information/authenticity and audience/intelligibility.

So, I played around myself and came up with this: ← if your browser tells me you understand Japanese you will just see 「例」, otherwise the word will have a grey-ish background and when you hover over it, it will display "example".
Best thing about them? They're purely done in CSS. :3 (See the code here.) On the server side of things it gets a little bit unaesthetic — sadly. I maintain the contents of this website in Markdown and extra stuff is added in after parsing. For mixed language strings I use the following construct <‌!-- mixlang:例:example -->. Not quite as concise as e.g. Markdown links but well ... HTML comments go through the parser untouched and then I built my small <span> matryoshkas. Writing a Markdown extention would be an alternative but I don't have the time for looking into that right now.

By the time this post goes live I will have gone through my backlog of posts and added in optional English translation for all non English strings. レンジでgood!

国立情報学研究所〔四〕

Month four — one thrid left; review:

Anki ok. Sport insufficient. Here's the interesting stuff:

  • general
    • 餃子 and stuff from オリジン found their way into my food routine
    • helped a crying little boy out in the street find his mum
    • witnessed the following manifestation of cuteness:
      3 small kids, two of them in bear costumes, waiting for the train with their mum
      announcement for the next train to come in a few minutes: 「...。この電車は10両です。」
      kids: 「10秒?10!9!8!...」
      but there was no train when they reached 0. :'D
    • was stopped by police for riding my bike at night without a light (mount is loose, I support it w/ rubber bands, that day the bands ripped on my way to work so I put they light in my bag); they were extremely nice — had a good chat
    • got the Dogen approved verification that my Japanese it about as good as that of a native first grader — was asked 「長いんですか?日本は」 by abovementioned policemen and the next day when getting my hair cut :3
    • saw a performance of the 東京都立青梅総合高等学校 和太鼓部 which was awesome
    • spent almost a week in Kyōto and two nights in Nagoya
    • the local sentō had a "chocolate bath" (cacao butter mixed into the water) around valentine's day which was geat ^_^
    • saw a few people from Matsuyama again while they were in Tōkyō
    • a bug I found* in Pokemon GO got some coverage by blogs/YouTube channels
      following how the story spread from a dedicated subreddit to more and more general sites was quite interesting — especially low effort "news posts" that got things wrong were amusing
      (*to be precise I found something that works on some devices and a fellow redditor found a variation that works on all devices)
  • at the institute
    • the conceptual stuff I mentioned last time is finally done and got some good feedback
    • was able to integrate learning a few neat new Flask related things into my work
    • stumbled upon a PhD thesis titled The Presentation of Self on a Decentralised Web — can I please take a week off from life and explore this?
    • got into and am getting back out of eating dinner somewhere close to work to then head back and work some more
    • the elevators say 「おはようございます」 at 8:26 a.m. — so maybe the interval is from 8 to 9?

Good times. More.

On to the next month!

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