Sunday, December 27, 2009

New Khmer Font for OS X

Thanks to Danh Hong a new font for reading/writing Khmer script in OS X is available hereor here. You can find related info in my earlier article.

I encourage readers to give the new font a try and let us know if you find any issues. I'm told it will also work right in Word 2008 for Mac if you set the 'enable all ligatures' option under Format/Font/Advanced.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Using Linux for Language Input

Sun's free VirtualBox software has made it extremely easy to run Linux concurrently with OS X, and there are various HowTo's on the web (e.g. this one) for doing it. Some reasons this could be useful are a) to use the variety of Windows fonts available for Indic and SE Asian scripts where the Mac only has a couple or none, and b) to use input methods for these scripts which are not yet available for OS X.

I installed Ubuntu this way and everything worked well. It comes with the IBus framework that includes a large number of IM's -- For example there are 6 for Devanagari (Inscript, Phonetic, Remington, iTrans, Typewriter, Harvard-Kyoto). You can also install the SCIM platform if you want. Copy/paste from the included OpenOffice suite to OS X apps was no problem.

A couple drawbacks: I could not find anything like Keyboard Viewer (or Help files) to assist in figuring out how various IM's or layouts work, so you need to get that off the internet or someplace else. Also Ubuntu only lets you have 4 ordinary keyboard layouts active at once (the number of IM's seems unlimited).

I tried out Linux once before 10 years ago...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fixing Keyboard Type Problems

Macs normally have one of three different physical keyboard types, which Apple calls JIS (for Japan), ISO (used in Europe, for example) and ANSI (used in the US). ISO has one key more than ANSI -- it is located between z and shift -- and JIS has quite a few differences.

Sometimes a machine will forget which type keyboard is attached, with the result that certain keys get transposed from what the user expects. The fix for this is run the Keyboard Setup Assistant again. Sometimes there is a button for "Change Keyboard Type" visible in System Preferences/Keyboard. If not, you can try trashing the file

/Library/Preferences/com.apple.keyboardtype.plist

Another possibility may be to open Terminal and type:

sudo open /System/Library/CoreServices/KeyboardSetupAssistant.app/Contents/MacOS/KeyboardSetupAssistant

Sometimes, when JIS is involved on a laptop, one may have to follow the procedures in the PMU Resetting instructions.

For reference, this doc shows the different keyboards supplied by Apple around the world.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Doing Multilingual Text in TeX

TeX is a typesetting software popular in the scientific world for producing high-quality documents. The newest versions support Unicode and opentype fonts and can generate multilingual pdf output. The learning curve is steep, however, because TeX is the opposite of WYSIWYG and the user needs to know a lot of commands.

If you want to give it a try, download and install the large or small packages from here. Open TeXShop, set the mode to XeLaTeX, and choose the XeLaTeX template. Toward the bottom you will see how you can name fonts and test text in various scripts. Hitting the Typeset button will generate a .pdf. I tried adding Hindi, Tibetan, and Egyptian Hieroglyphs and it seemed to work fine.