The Old Blog Archive, 2005-2009

Archive for October, 2007

OpenVanilla 0.8.0: Now for Leopard

Today we announce the release of OpenVanilla 0.8. It is the third major version of OpenVanilla (0.6, 0.7, 0.8) since 2004. Version 0.8 is available for Mac OS X and Windows. For the unpatient, the new release is available at

One thing that I’d like to mention is that the OS X version comes in two flavors–one for OS X 10.4 and above, and one solely for OS X 10.5–the big cat that is finally unleashed today, and that’s why we choose today to announce its release.


OpenVanilla 0.8 for Mac OS X Leopard has a redesigned engine under the hood. From the appearance it feels just the same as the non-Leopard version, but because Leopard offers us a more clear, easy architecture of developing input methods, we’ll start migrating the entire OpenVanilla framework accordingly. Other than maintain releases of 0.8.x, the next major version of OpenVanilla on OS X will be for Leopard (and above) only.

The major changes of version 0.8, in short words, includes:

  • better visual design elements, including a redesigned candidate window and a set of new icons;
  • redesigned web-site and user manual;
  • the latest version of libchewing for Chewing input method, with an expanded phrase database coverage;
  • wildcard support in Array and Generic input methods, and
  • Support for 3rd party on-screen keyboardlets.

Once again, for download and other information, just visit

Back from Tokyo

Just took a half-vacation, half-work break in Tokyo last week (well, you can’t really call a half-work break a break, but so it went…).

My fifth time there, and I felt even more at home than last summer when I was on a business trip. I could feel my Japanese improving and that I was able to do more in Japanese this time. The only two occasions I had to resort to English had both to do with technical stuff, like input method development and programming langauge issues. That was when I felt most awkward and powerless. And I forgot to (and didn’t have time to) buy Takahashi’s book this time.

... 浪費在...

So other than the work part (the typhoon in Taiwan made some trouble), it was a very enjoyable trip.

When you visit a foreign city and it’s no longer the first or second time, it’s the little things that count. Like this time I was finally able to have brunch at the Tsukiji Fish Market–fresh toro-uni don was totally refreshing, and would certainly make me unable to visit ordinary kaiten sushi bars for a while!

The new Tokyo Midtown in Roppongi was equally amazing in its architecture and interior. Inside it was hustle and bustle, just like any other shopping venue. But at the exterior, especially in the garden, it was very quite. I couldn’t imagine this kind of places in Taiwan (or in any other Chinese-speaking regions) offer the same silence–or other, I couldn’t imagine if they ever stop making sound during weekend. Tokyo was really a crowded city, and Midtown was really popular during the weekend. But such soundlessness negated the crowd effect.

Surprisingly, this was the first time I realized, and felt tired of, the fact that Tokyo was such a crowded city. Taking the Yamanote Line during the peak hours (which means most of the day) could be physically exhausting. And I stopped wondering why the pedestrian crossings in Akihabara and Shibuya are so wide and long–because they have to be so. I shunned visits to Shinjuku as much as I could this time.

Fortunately, we were staying at a great weekly mansion (ウィークリー.マンション; a type of accommodation in Japan that has no room service, is on a relatively longer lease, and is a great bargain) in a very quiet area in Tokyo. I couldn’t believe it’s still within the reach of Yamanote Line, yet is on such a slow pace. One reason I suspect though is that the area has many cemeteries. But Japanese cemeteries are like Western ones in that they are peaceful and are never visually intimidating.

With the Sony empire in decline, game consoles going global, and best MP3 players coming from Apple, Japan has lost its appeal to me as a beacon of leading consumer electronics. I still remembered the first time a family friend brought me to the Yodobashi Camera store, and boy it was heaven. Shopping is also more or less a Starbucks thing–you run into same stuff in any big city.

Interestingly, exactly because those can be bought is now available everywhere (and if you don’t think so, you must be too inexperienced with the international shipping options), that those couldn’t be bought and brought back with you become more valuable. I like travelling in Japan because its culture is not loud–loud in aesthetic, sensual, architectural and audio-visual terms. Simply taking a walk in the city–pick a quiter neighborhood with old bookstores, izakayas and wagasi shops sitting around–is a pleasure. And knowing more about the language enriches every new trip.

I’ll definitely refrain from working next time.