Sunday, November 28, 2010

Super OLED!

After two years, the age of my Nokia E-71 showed.  The main shortcoming has been the display size.  The good and real keyboard has made it impossible to go higher than 320x240 without increasing the thickness of the phone.

So I got myself the Samsung Galaxy S recently.  It is a very good copycat of the iPhone 3GS, down to the packing box.  What did they say about imitation and flattery?  I am speculating that the next version of the Galaxy would, like the iPhone 4, have rectangular instead of curvy edges on the sides.

I have not used the iPhone other than testing it.  I find Android much more usable compared with my experience with the iPhone.  The menu and back buttons on the Galaxy S are really handy.  The Program Monitor gives me a very visible state of my phone.  If control equals power, I am power-drunk.  People like me would have difficultly living under the yoke of Mr Jobs.

The biggest jump in capability has to be Swype.  I guess Samsung has to pay for it as one Motorola model I know does not have it.  It is so powerful that it makes you become more verbose.  Ever since my first SMS in 1996, I have always ensured that every word in every single SMS I send is spelled in full and every sentence is properly punctuated.  Hence Swype is an excellent tool for me.

The Super OLED display is just super.  It gives new meaning to the term "vibrant colors".  If you have not seen it go to a phone shop and check out the weather forecast in Daily Briefing.  The lightning or moon behind clouds will stun you.

One thing I will have to get used to is that I have to get some basic essential stuff from the Market. I am used to Nokia providing a basic set of software for the hardware they sold.  In the Android world, you are expected to use those written by some kind souls out there.  I still don't feel good that my location accurate to 5m can be reported to some unknown person every time I use some application.

One feature I wish for is an on/off switch for celluar data.  Other than roaming protection, there are times when I need to control radiation.  For example if I am still outside and my battery is low, I want to be able to conserve power until I get a chance to recharge.

Overall, the Samsung Galaxy S is an excellent phone.

I have not upgraded to 2.2 Froyo as I keep hearing all those negative reports.



Monday, November 15, 2010

Why it is Peking and not Beijing

[As at January 2011, this web site cannot be viewed from within China.]

Lord Carrington explained it most clearly when he said that English speakers do not call Moscow Mockba.

I see two fundamental misunderstandings on names and languages.

First, English speakers do not need the permission of the CCP to decide how to name the capital of China in English. English speakers do not seek Italy's permission when they call Roma Rome. The list goes on. Similarly, Britain does not, and cannot, insist that the Chinese do not call London 伦敦 but London. Britain cannot object the French from calling that same place Londres. President Obama cannot command that the Chinese call him 奥峇马 instead of 奥巴马. In summary, if users of a language decide to name something X, no one else from another language can come and say it must be Y instead.

Second, the capital of China in Chinese is 北京, not Beijing. This second point may be a bit subtle.  "Beijing" is 100% not a Chinese word. Chinese is not written using the letters of the English or Latin alphabet. Chinese is written using pictographs, eg 北京.  The word "Beijing" is as Chinese as "Лондон" (London in Russian) is English.

There is nothing offensive or ominous about calling the capital of China Peking in English. There are no western hegemonic overtones or Chinese humiliation implied when we use the word Peking.  [Jan 2, 2011 update: mind you I just returned from an absorbing visit to Yuan Ming Yuan]  Just like when the Chinese call London 伦敦 in their language, there is no connotation China might have overrun England.  On the other hand, using Beijing instead of Peking in English unequivocally acknowledges a total capitulation to the CCP!  I guess big cash can do wonderful things.  If this goes on, soon we will have to use Zhong-guo instead of China. And from 2019, many documents will have to be updated, such as "We the People of Mei Guo, in Order to form ..."

Coming back to the word "Beijing", it is merely the Hanyu Pinyin phonetic spelling of 北京, when pronounced in Chinese, just like "lʌndən" is the IPA phonetic spelling of London, when pronounced in English.  We should leave these as they are.

Long live Peking!  北京万岁!