Monday, January 28, 2008

App for Advanced Korean Word Processing

If you work in Korean and need features beyond what normal Apple and Windows apps can provide, like additional fonts, vertical layout, spell checking, and support for ancient Hangul characters, I understand that the product to get is Hangul 2006 For Mac. A source for it is here. For more info on the app see this article.

Reading Non-Unicode Tibetan

Although OS X, starting with 10.5, includes support for Unicode Tibetan, it turns out that a number of important Tibetan language sites have not yet reached this point and still use custom fonts with legacy encodings. Examples are Radio Free Asia, and To view these sites you will need to download and install the special font they use, TCRC YoutsoWeb. You might also need to try a different browser, like FireFox or Opera, rather than Safari, and fiddle with its font preferences.

You can download tcrcyweb.ttf here or from my iDisk.

As for official Chinese sites, these seem to be only in Chinese or to use graphics instead of text. An example of the latter is China Tibet News An example of a Chinese site in Unicode Tibetan is Tibet Information Technology Web.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Work-Around for Mail's NBSP Bug

A poster in the Apple forums has pointed out that appears to have a strange bug: There is no way to input U+00A0/NBSP "No-Break Space". When you try to do this, either via the keyboard (Alt/Opt + space) or the Character Palette or via copy/paste, only an ordinary Space (U+0020) is produced in the text.

This is a problem because French text, for example, should ideally have an NBSP before certain punctuation, especially ! and ?. Using ordinary spaces means that these marks can get separated from the text they belong to at line endings, which is very ugly.

A possible work-around is use U+202F "Narrow No-Break Space" instead, which does accept for input. Unfortunately I don't think any standard keyboard layouts have this character, so you have create a custom layout or input it from the Character Palette or via similar means. Also it could cause problems if the other end is using software that doesn't understand Unicode or fonts that don't handle 202F correctly.

The best tool for making a custom layout is Ukelele.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mac Office 2008: Still No Arabic/Hebrew Support

MS Office for Mac 2008 was released Jan. 15, and info on its language capabilities is now available here. Notable is a) the continuing lack of ability to work with Arabic/Hebrew, and b) the presence of Tamil on the list of supported languages. First reports I have indicate that Word 2008 cannot in fact do Tamil (the font is not recognized and you just see squares). One source says the other parts of Office do display it. There are also reports that both PowerPoint and Entourage can do Arabic/Hebrew.

iPhone Language Input Capabilities Still Not Expanded

I was surprised to hear that the 1.1.3 iPhone update announced at MacWorld January 15 apparently did not add Japanese or other new keyboard input capabilities to match what has been available since introduction in the iPod Touch. This seems especially odd since the iPhone User Guide (p. 21) has said for months now that these were already present.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Typing Kharosthi

Kharosthi was used to write Sanskrit and Gandhari about 2000 years ago, and is the script of the oldest Buddhist manuscripts yet found. It plays a role in Eliot Pattison's mystery "Water Touching Stone," which I am currently reading. An example of the kind of wooden tablet mentioned in that book can be seen here.

Two fonts which include Kharosthi are Alphabetum Unicode and MPH 2B Damase. A rudimentary keyboard layout can be downloaded from my iDisk.

The available fonts and OS X are not yet capable of displaying Kharosthi properly.