Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I bought a MacBook in the States (against stiff opposition from Chase Bank): you can run Windows programs, something last offered in a shortlived model of the Performa, and I want to try Bissantz's Sparklines software (won't run on a Mac).

I also very much wanted to upgrade to Leopard; a few months ago a reader who works at Apple had sent me a private communication explaining that Leopard would be offering English-language Help for Japanese, Korean and Chinese input; sure enough, I try out the Kotoeri and Hangul Input Help and get:

which is deeply thrilling for anyone who has struggled along for years with nothing but the instructions Apple used to provide for CJK input, couched in Chinese, Japanese or Korean depending on the language one hoped to use. The funny thing is, though, that this development was not advertised as one of the glories of Leopard - in fact, the reader explained that the reason he was sharing this by e-mail was that he couldn't mention it in a comment on the blog. I felt bad about keeping this to myself, frankly, because I was sure many other Mac users would love to know the ease with which they could soon be inputting away in C, J or K (or all of the above) - but if someone tells me something in confidence I don't think I should be broadcasting it to the blogosphere. Why Apple would want to keep this fabulous news a closely guarded secret is another matter, but let's not be churlish. I assume we can now reveal.

Of course (OK, let's be churlish), the fact that you can run Windows programs on the new Intel-based Macs with OS 10.5 is offset by the fact that you can't run OS 9 and all the applications you have that run in OS 9. Apple tells you sweetly that you should upgrade all your OS 9 applications to versions that run on OS X, which would be a doddle if Adobe out of the goodness of its heart offered free upgrades; Adobe being a nasty, grasping, mercenary sort of company, the sort of company that sees OS X without benefit of OS 9 as a windfall, you're looking at a couple of thousand dollars, at a guess, if you don't happen to have a very dear personal friend who will give you a free installation. Being of a somewhat cynical, pessimistic (not to say churlish) disposition I hung onto the laptop that ran only OS 9 (with the excellent Nisus), but it's now a leetle tricky: that laptop now won't connect to the Internet. So there's probably some sort of lumpen workaround, saving files to a CD, transferring them to the new hard drive . . .

In a separate but not unrelated incident I talked to my father about journals to which he might submit articles, and he was doubtful because they seemed not to say they would accept documents in WordPerfect, and he then opened a document to show me what he had and awwwwwwwwwww. He was still using WordPerfect 6.0 for DOS. Which he had installed in 1986. On the one hand I naturally reflect that Hemingway and Faulker could just buy a typewriter and use the same damn typewriter for the next 50 years. Hemingway's first wife lost a suitcase containing all his early stories, leaving them accidentally on purpose behind on a train because Hemingway had been a shit, but Steve Jobs and Bill Gates do all writers this kind of friendly turn every couple of years or so. But on the other hand my father is now pretty much housebound, and yet he has access to an immense range of scholarly articles through JSTOR. You win some you lose some.

Doris Lessing recently complained about what she saw as the lower level of intellectual engagement which came of spending time on the Internet rather than reading books - and books, she said, were about telling stories. It's not quite that simple, because some stories need images, some stories require more than one language - War and Peace does have upperclass Russians speaking a great deal of French, but it would really be very difficult to get such a book published. Even academic publishers often put pressure on writers to omit quotations from languages other than that in which the book is written - OUP asked Toril Moi to omit quotations from Ibsen in Norwegian in her book on the playwright because the book would otherwise be prohibitively long and expensive. Whereas, for instance, Language Hat often gives generous quotations in Russian from books he has come across. You do win some.


selfdivider said...

i agree w/ you. i have a hard time understanding why so many people resist what's out there, just because of their reductive bias against a technological "onslaught" that is eroding our way of life.

btw: you can convert hangul to hanja?! do you know if you can do that on tiger?

narcomanic said...

Huh, so, publicly giving people instructions on how to use their computer is not okay... An interesting policy. Anyhow, yes, the language inputs are one of the many reasons I love the Mac 10 OS. I don't understand people who insist on clinging to their older than old Windows systems and then give me a confused/pitying look when I mention I'm using a Mac computer... Strange.

Ithaca said...

sd, I think hangul can be converted to hanja in tiger. I have posted the relevant help from Leopard (the instructions were probably available in Tiger for those with a good knowledge of Korean).

n, I suspect Apple is not generally against publicly giving people instructions on how to uses their computer. In this particular case they had not bothered to provide English-language instruction for CJK input since the release of OS X in 1999, which made its belated provision something of an embarrassment.