Adventure game (一)

我一直都是 adventure games 的大粉絲,遇到一個好的 adventure game 時所獲得的滿足,絕非其他類型的電腦遊戲可比。

在香港,如果問身邊的人知不知道第一代在香港流行的電玩是甚麼樣子的話,大概十個人裏面起碼會有一兩個人答得出諸如乒乓 (Atari Pong) 之類的 console games 或者打殞石 (Asteroids)、打怪獸 (Space Invaders) 和食鬼 (Pac-Man) 等等的 arcade games。可是,假若要他們講出一兩套早期的 PC games 名字,懂得回答的恐怕百中無一。如果再進一步,問他們有沒有聽過 adventure game 這個遊戲類型的話,會點頭的大概可算作異類了。

事實上在歐美,adventure games 直至九十年代早期都是在個人電腦上最受歡迎的遊戲類型(注意,我說的並不是 one of the most popular genres,而是 the most popular genre )。譬如根據 Wikipedia 的資料,在 1993 年發行,歷史上最暢銷的 adventure game  ──  Myst  ──  所創下的六百萬套銷售紀錄,要到發行之後整整五年,才由第一身射擊遊戲 Half-Life 和即時戰略遊戲 StarCraft 所破。只是不知何故,adventure games 一直都不為香港人所受落。

到底甚麼叫 adventure game 呢?

顧名思義,adventure game 的起源和「歷險」有關,不過這可不是「藏在暗影裏避過門口患夜盲症的守衛,然後闖入沒有設置警報系統的槍械庫取得各種武器,再大模斯樣地走上頂層,沿途大開殺戒,碰見樣衰的人就賞他一枚火箭,自己中彈就在地上撿取方便入侵者的神奇藥箱,子彈用光了就在地上拾把散彈槍,到達目的地之後再和你唔打佢你就要死的 big boss 戰鬥」這類型的動作歷險(大佬,八十年代的電腦那有能力給予閣下如此享受?),而是「藏在暗影裏觀察門口的守衛,用咒語把他變成夜盲,然後想法子解除煉金室門口的機關,進入後徹底搜查,以獲取咒語、丹藥或者暗語,得手後再大模斯樣地走上頂層,沿途遇到樣子衰衰的人盤問,可嘗試用咒語擺平他或者用暗語通行然後再從談話之中獲得情報,萬一遇著鎖著的門就要找條鑰匙或者騙個護衛來開,如此這般地到達被囚公主的寢室,在美麗的公主面前用閣下的智慧配合已知的情報,用咒語混和丹藥,將 supposedly 邪惡但極有耐性等待你想好計策的巫師/毒龍/whatever 消滅」這種智力遊戲。

換言之,adventure game 之得名非因它們牽涉動作歷險,而是因為遊戲的脈絡往往由冒險故事支撐而成。所以這裏姑且將 adventure game 繙繹為「歷險遊戲」。由於有冒險故事,有些人誤以為歷險遊戲指的是角色扮演遊戲 (role playing game 或 RPG,例如 Final Fantasy 和 Diablo),但後者其實十分偏重武鬥和如何培養可操控角色 (player character) 的戰力和性格,而前者卻往往不含這些成份,是個偏重智力和近乎靜態的遊戲。要推展歷險遊戲,靠的往往是細緻的觀察力、慎密而有時橫向的思考,以及全面的情報或者物件收集。不過近年很多遊戲開發者都嘗試融合不同類型遊戲的特點於一身,以至遊戲類別之間的界線亦模糊起來。



(Rant) Media business is now pure business, period

The most read news articles in local newspapers today are perhaps those about the alleged sex photos of pop singers Gillian Chung (鍾欣桐) and Edison Chen (陳冠希). Even the highly political Wen Wei Po (文匯報) has given a lengthy report. One newspaper also states that a network traffic jam had occurred because of the massive downloading of these photos by HK netizens.

Some commentators or bloggers criticise the HK public for their obsessions in celebrity sex photos, but I think such huge interests are understandable and aren't uncommon in other countries. Like it or not, news business is business. Even the most serious newspaper has to attract more readers and secure its income.

What disappoints me, however, is local newspapers' neglect of more 'serious' news. Two days ago was the 57th anniversary of the death of Carl Mannerheim. As far as I know, no local newspaper had reported this. Fine. 57 is not divisible by ten, Finland is not a superpower and our professional reporters may have never heard about her great president's name. But today is the 60th anniversary of Gandhi's death, and apparently none of our newspapers has a single word on this (at least Ming Pao, Apple Daily, Wen Wei Po and Ta Kung Pao haven't). Well, Gandhi may not have a perfect record, but he was the one who had inspired many great personalities, such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King Jr
and Nelson Mandela. And our newspapers have nothing to say about him?! I don't want to believe this, but this is real.

These days, I find that I do tend to read more 'entertainment news' than serious news. Perhaps both the newspapers and I are no longer serious about news. When news becomes entertainment, the only times that we can read
about Gandhi on newspapers anymore may be when the members of the Gandhi family are suing each other over someone's will.


Oxford Dictionary search plugin for Firefox

2011-02-07: The Oxford Dictionaries website has changed its query method, so that the method of building a search plugin below is no longer valid. The reader may install the Oxford Dictionaries add-on for remedy, however.

In my first ever blog entry, I have demonstrated how to create a Cambridge Dictionary search plugin for Firefox in four easy steps. Back then I didn't realise that Oxford Dictionary also offered an online search. So, this time we will go through these four steps again to make friend with the Oxford Dictionary.

Like the Cambridge Dictionary website, AskOxford.com offers not only English dictionary search but also other search facilities as well. For example, the First Names Dictionary is very useful for those Asians (like me) who are confused with the short forms of some English names (for the record, I was so ignorant that I didn't even know Chris actually means Christopher until I graduated from university >_< ). Still, in what follows I'll mainly focus on the English dictionary search, coz it's my most frequently used dictionary search option. Here we go: 1) Locate the folder where Firefox stores the search plugins. On my computer it is C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\searchplugins

If you are not sure about this, search your hard drive for the file google.xml (I presume you haven't manually removed the Google search plugin).

2) Type or cut and paste the following code in notepad. Save this file as oxford.src in the above-mentioned plugin folder.

<search version="7.1"
name="Compact Oxford Dictionary"
description="Compact Oxford Dictionary"
method="GET" >

<input name="view" value="dict">
<input name="branch" value="13842570">
<input name="textsearchtype" value="exact">
<input name="freesearch" user="">

3) Right-click this icon of AskOxford.com and save it as oxford.png in the same folder.

4) Restart Firefox and done.

If you do not reside in HK, the above code may not work (pls tell me if it doesn't). In this case this is probably because the value "13842570" for "branch" (country code?) in step 2 is incorrect. It's rather simple to fix this. First, go to AskOxford.com. Search for the meaning of any word in the Compact Oxford Dictionary from the pull-down menu or from the search box for the English dictionary (see the figure on the right; in this example I want to look up the meaning of the word "derivative"). After the website has returned an explanation for the word, you can look up the value of "branch" in the address bar (see the figure below).

Alternatively, you can simply delete the line containing "branch" in oxford.src, but then you'll be searching the whole AskOxford.com website (including e.g. the First Names Dictionary) instead of the English dictionary alone.

By the way, Firefox has a context search add-on. With this add-on you can highlight any word on any web page, right-click it, and choose the search engine (Google, Oxford Dictionary, etc.) from the contextual menu. So when you read a web page and encounter a word that you don't understand, there is no need to type it into Firefox's search box.


Warrant = 窩輪?

The breaking financial news today is that Société Générale, the second largest bank in France, reveals that one of its traders, Jerome Kerviel, has committed the biggest ever alleged bank fraud in history. Kerviel, who was supposed to create hedges for his colleagues' positions, instead betted heavily on a bull market using calendar spreads on futures. Unfortunately, since the market was in a slump over the past year, these allegedly fraudulent trades had resulted in a loss of €4.9bn (HK$\$$56bn) --- over five times the scale of the legendary US$\$$1.4bn (HK$10.9bn) fraud committed by Nick Leeson in 1995.

How do local news agencies report this news? Ming Pao says that


What I find interesting here is that Ming Pao, the newspaper that is claimed to be the most credible in HK, opts to adopt the salesman's translation '窩輪' for the financial derivative that is called 'warrant'.

As you know, a warrant is basically an over-the-counter option (場外期權). In Chinese, it was formerly called '認股證' (or simply '認股證'), which I think conveys the meaning of a warrant very well. Since a year or two ago, however, salesmen from investment banks began to promote it as '窩輪', for the obvious reason that it rhymes with 'warrant' in Cantonese. Although such translation is plain silly --- the term '窩輪' actually refers to 'turbo' (as in turbocharger) in Chinese --- I used to think that it doesn't hurt as long as no confusion arises.

Yet, if you look at Kerviel's CV, you'll find that since March 2004, Kerviel has been involved in the market-making of 'open end and close end turbos'. Now what is this turbo thingy? Wikipedia says that it is actually a financial derivative introduced by Goldman Sachs in 2004. A further google search reveals that it is a form of rolling knock-out option traded over-the-counter in Germany. So, editors and journalists in local newspapers, please note: there is already a financial derivative called 'turbo' in the market.

If you call a warrant '窩輪', what should you call a turbo?

Just stop using this silly translation for warrants, OK?


有線新聞的 WTF

有一個很受程式設計師歡迎的網站,叫 The Daily WTF。它每天都發佈一些關於軟件設計,令人大呼「有無搞錯?!」的荒謬故事,十分發人深省。

一般人生活中亦會不時遇到他們的 WTF 故事。昨天我就遇到一個。

話說昨天乘搭西鐵時,車上的有線電視新聞在介紹所謂的 mosquito ringtone,亦即一種以高頻播放的電話鈴聲。在外國,這種鈴聲很受青少年歡迎。由於上了年紀的人聽力衰退,學生在上課時可以利用這種鈴聲收短訊,而不引起年長老師的注意。


我不是新聞從業員。雖然我明白香港的電視台或報社資源有限,很多新聞都要由外國通訊社買回來,但怎樣都想不到電視台竟然連新聞和舊聞都分不出!「有線電視」已是三間私營電視台之中做新聞做得較好的一間,亦尚且如此。假若 2057 年的時候我依然在世的話,希望不會聽到電視台報導「最新消息:政府公佈 2047 年時終於有雙普選」才好。




遞了藥單,拿到 889 號籌。這時候藥房派藥才派到 610 號,所以我認為先找個地方吃午飯,再回藥房仍未遲。











就我所觀察,一般茶餐廳用的即食麵,無論任何牌子,都好似同零售用的不同(這純屬猜測,如有錯請指正)。前者唔知係咪在出廠前用油炸過,所以個 texture 同家用的有點不同。而後者唔知係麵質抑或烹飪功夫的關係,總覺得無街外邊的咁好食。另外,雖然出前一丁唔難煮,但係要煮得唔好太淋或大硬,仍然要小小心機。

所以我喜歡煮辛拉麵,因為貪佢易煮。基本上,辛拉麵好快熟。而且佢對烹煮的時間亦好 tolerant,即使煮多了點點時間都唔係問題。當初辛拉麵登陸香港的時候(好似係九七年前後的事),其實都幾革命性。因為佢係市場上唯一一隻辣麵。由當時起,我就一直有買辛拉麵來看屋。



民間電台 (之二)

  1. 律政司檢控電台的負責人和工作人員,可以理解。但連節目嘉賓亦被控告,則無法令人不相信這不是一個政治決定。更糟的是,律政司是有選擇地檢控 --- 比如現在處於建制內的行政會議成員張炳良就沒有被控告。
  2. 律政司以申請緊急禁制令的形式禁止民間電台廣播,是否一種繞過法例本身,以法官個人的判斷為準的不當做法?
  3. 曾健成等人當初無牌廣播,可否看成一稱合理的公民抗命行為?
  4. 在法庭批出了臨時禁制令之後,民間電台仍然恢復廣播,這又可否看作是合理的公民抗命?

你們給每家買一部無線電,補習老師和區內小朋友同一時間開機,下午三時補三年級數學,四時補四年級英文。住在附近的老師足不出戶便能對着大氣解答問題,等 於開了一個空中補習班。一個同學的問題,能讓眾多同學分享答案,比一對一補習有效得多。晚飯後,小孩退出,師奶有空閒時間,來個互訴心聲時段,甚至談談街 市餸菜價格也可以。

…英國在 2004 年已開放了大氣電波,鼓勵各區成立「社區電台」,強調非牟利性質,以社會利益為前提。好處是加強社區網絡,促進居民的社區參與。不同文化、語言的小族群,也有機會發聲。



其實我們現時所謂的 FM 廣播,用的是所謂的特高頻 (VHF), 亦即介乎 30-300MHz 的電波。由於頻率高即波長短,所以舊時 FM 收音機被稱為「超短波收音機」。VHF 電波除了用作廣播之外,還有諸如射電天文等等的其他用途。為免不同用途的電波互相干擾(例如 A 國的電台廣播干擾了 B 國的天文觀測),國際電信聯盟 (ITU) 制定了一份頻率劃分表,以規管各會員國政府分配頻譜的方法。例如在 ITU 之中同屬第三區(即大洋洲與包括香港的大部份東南亞地區,有興趣者可看此分區圖)的會員國,只可將 100-108MHz 撥作廣播使用,但 100-108MHz 的頻譜則可按不同國家需要,用於固定通訊、流動通訊或者廣播。

換言之,各國可在 ITU 的粗略劃分下各自作出更細緻的規定。香港的劃分表 87-108MHz 全歸廣播用,而政府用的頻譜則以一段段的方式廣泛地分佈在從 37MHz 24.45GHz 的區間之上。由於政府可用的頻率實在太過廣泛,可以斷言,救傷車所用的頻道必定不會和廣播用的相近。

那麼政府有否剩餘頻道供民間電台作 FM 廣播呢?這裏要留意,按 ITU 的劃分,部份在 87-108MHz 以外的頻帶亦可作廣播用途。譬如 176.5-182.5MHz 這個頻帶。雖然政府並沒把它劃作廣播用,但按照政府的說明,這段落中有 94% 的頻道是空置的。所以政府並非沒有資源讓民間辦社區電台,只是不為也。

但另一方面,由於現存的 FM 收音機大多只能收聽 87-108MHz 的節目,所以使用其他頻帶並不是辦法。這樣,FM 87-108MHz 的頻道又是否已被佔滿呢?按照電訊管理局所發佈的「現時聲音廣播服務頻率表」,似乎本港的三間電台已經把整個 87-108MHz 頻帶佔得很密。民間電台之前用的 FM 102.8MHz, 就很貼近新城財經台的 102.5MHz 頻率。

可是這個頻率表隱暪了一件很重要的事,就是 FM 87-108MHz 這個頻帶中起碼有三條不屬三間電台,每天只用不足一小時的頻道。

它們就是 FM 103.4, 106.8 107.9MHz。每晚八時,它們都被用來廣播「幻彩詠香江」的音樂和旁述。其中,使用 FM 107.9MHz 這條頻道應該不會對三間電台的廣播構成任何干擾。


(Edited on Feb. 17, 2008: 我之前誤以為 ITU 的分區與 DVD 的分區相同,現刪除有關錯誤並加上在 Google Map 找到的 ITU 分區圖。)


民間電台 (之一)


In case 你來自香港以外或者遙遠未來,讓我先解釋一下來龍去脈。民間電台由本地的前任立法議會議員曾健成先生創立。與全球所有地區一樣,在香港,大氣電波的使用須受政府規管。曾先生曾於在 2005 年 9 月向本地的電訊管理局申請廣播牌照,不果。於是他從 05 年 10 月 3 日開始無牌廣播。開始時與政府相安無事。但到了翌年的 8 至 10 月間,電訊管理局卻三度帶同法庭手令查封民間電台的廣播器材,並於最後一次查封之後,控告民間電台(作為法人)、曾健成及另外四名節目主持和嘉賓非法廣播。

案件在上星期二(1 月 8 日)審結。根據《明報》報導,裁判官游德康表示,《電訊條例》沒有訂明發牌條件,而電訊管理局內負責發牌的機構成員全由行政長官委任,加上行政長官會同行政會議亦可行使無限制兼且一直沒有用過酌情權,故裁定政府拒發牌照予民間電台的決完違反《基本法》及《人權法》中有關保障言論自由的條款,並撤銷六名被告的控罪。控方隨即向高等法院上訴,並申請暫緩執行有關裁決。

另一方面,民間電台宣佈由上週四起恢復廣播。政府得悉這個消息,於是在上週三(1 月 9 日)傍晚成功向高等法院取得緊急禁制令,禁此任何人在 1 月 18 日或之前無牌廣播。以下是《星島日報》在上週四的報導:




Congratulations, Sid!

The organisers of the 2008 Game Developer's Conference (to be held during Feb 18-22 in San Francisco) have just announced that they will present a Lifetime Achievement Award to Sid Meier.

Congrats and many thanks, Sid. To this date I still very often play Civilization II and
Railroad Tycoon II on my home computer. Although the latter game is not your creation but only a sequel to your original Railroad Tycoon, without your creations I would have lacked two important tools to kill my leisure time.




Jun 27 英國首相貝里雅 (Tony Blair) 下台 (亦見 Nov 24)。

Jul 21 哈里波特系列的最終回 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 面世。砍伐了大量樹木和花費了消費者大量金錢,換來的卻是個黃飛鴻惡鬥奸人堅的老套結局,令人失望。

Aug 15 次按危機引發全球股市下跌。我過往一年所賺的幾乎都在這次跌市中賠掉。

Oct 30 阿根廷總統夫人 Cristina Fernandez 勝出總統大選。雖然選舉過程正常,但這種由老公傳位給老婆以變相延長總統任期的做法,實在令人不安。事實上,不止阿根廷,像美國的布殊 (Bush) 父子均為總統以及克林頓夫人希拉里 (Hillary Clinton) 參與總統選舉,都令人憂慮民眾對政客的家族化是否已經習以為常。

Nov 24 澳洲總理霍華德 (John Howard) 於大選中落敗。 這標誌着除了美國之外,侵略伊拉克的政策在主要國家已不獲人民的支持。

Dec 3 美國國家情報局 (National Intelligence Council) 的最新評估 National Intelligence Estimate 顯示,伊朗早已於2003年停止其核武計劃。這使布殊和美國的鷹派又少一個制裁或攻擊伊朗的藉口。雖說隨著總統選舉臨近,以戰爭轉移民眾對內政的不滿是政客一貫的招數,但現時美國國內的厭戰情緒並不低落(連正在爭取黨內提名的民主黨候選人 Barack Obama 也夠膽提議撤軍),相信短期內美國都不會侵略伊朗。

Dec 3 委內瑞拉總統查維斯 (Hugo Chavez) 提出的憲法改革在全民公決中以輕微比數 (49% 對 51%) 被否決。雖然西方傳媒一直把查維斯妖魔化,但在大部份的委內瑞拉人以至南美洲人眼中,查維斯卻是一個不折不扣、為國為民的真英雄。然而,這次憲法改革所包含,總統可以無限期連任的條款,卻叫人大吃一驚。我曾經想過,查維斯是否已變了質? 幸而,這次委內瑞拉人能和平及明智地決定國家政治改革的方向,而查維斯亦接受自身的挫敗,這些令我對委內瑞拉的前途仍充滿希望。相比那些自詡為國際都市的封建小城,委內瑞拉人能實踐自己的民主理念,而毋須接受素未謀面的威權統治者的指指點點。單憑這點,他們已足以自豪。

Dec 17 拿科他自由代表團 (Lakota Freedom Delegation) 知會美國國務院,拿科他族印第安人即時退出與美國政府簽訂的一系列條約,宣佈獨立--- 或借用中共的語言來說,恢復行使對拿科他地區的主權---並成立拿科他共和國 (Republic of Lakotah),歡迎各美國人入籍。

眾所週知,和任何國家的殖民地一樣,美國的國土是一片靠掠奪和以不平等條約騙回來的土地(當然,由於大規模地屠殺印第安人,美國人事實上遠比其他殖民者兇狠和殘暴)。故此,有印第安人尋求獨立,不難理解。然而,這次的對手是連南美鄰國都可當作自家後花園的世界第一強國,要獨立談何容易?猶幸這次事出突然,美國政府不及反應,才沒有獨立運動者下獄、被殺或被送往境外的集中營或秘密監獄。現時美國政府只能閃縮地說,這是內政部 (Department of Interior) 而不是國務院的事(言下之意就是說這是跟拿科他族的內政問題,而非與拿科他共和國的外交問題)。但日子久了,就難保沒有鎮壓行動。


Dec 27 巴基斯坦人民黨領袖及前總理貝娜齊爾(Benazir Bhutto)在離開競選集會時遇刺身亡。此事對世界局勢其實沒有多大影響,倒是幕後策劃者的身份令我相當感興趣。由於兇徒先槍殺貝娜齊爾再引爆炸彈自殺,策劃者可能想把事件假裝為恐怖份子刺殺。加上「獲益最大者嫌疑亦最大」,誰是今次行弒的幕後策劃人,實在呼之欲出。

Dec 28 尼泊爾國會各黨派以及在野的尼泊爾毛澤東主義共產黨 Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) 同意廢除帝制,成立一個聯邦民主共和國 (federal democratic republic)。從此世上實行帝制的國家又少一個。

我上一次到尼泊爾 trekking 的時候,震驚世界的王室屠殺案才發生不久,而尼泊爾政府則剛剛宣佈全國進入緊急狀態。當時首都的局勢尚算平靜,但在一些政府建築物前面仍可看到以沙包堆砌的重型機關槍據點。只要身處城鎮,應可感受到一股張力。不過當我身處行山路線之時,卻只有和善的村民跟美不勝收的風景。所以我當時還天真地以為「山高皇帝遠」,政治亂局應不會漫延至鄉郊。

誰知尼泊爾的局勢在我離開之後每下愈況。首先,一直在西部活動的毛共軍已漫延至中部、首都以及部份受歡迎的行山路線。根據人權觀察 (Human Rights Watch) 的報告,截至 2006 年三月頭,已有過萬平民在政府軍與毛共軍的衝突中喪生及過千平民失蹤。其次,雖然毛共明白旅遊業是尼泊爾的經濟支柱,所以在政策上他們並不會騷擾遊客,但正所謂樹大有枯枝,加上可能有不法份子冒充毛共軍,以及一般治安變差,所以最終還是有遊客不幸被劫、被殺或者被強姦。這對尼泊爾經濟的打擊實在難以估計。

但最糟的還是新任的國王賈南德拉 (King Gyanendra) 欲獨攬大權。他於 2005 年二月宣佈解散國會,最終引至全國騷亂。所幸在 2006 年四月,國王賈南德拉終於被迫交出權力,變成一個虛君。而毛共黨亦同意全面停火,加入尼泊爾政府。雖然隨後他們因堅持廢除帝制而退出政府,但至此尼泊爾的天空已露出和平的曙光。


Lost in localisation

When you buy a book from Amazon.com, or use any online shopping website, you may need to fill in many pieces of information, including, among many things, a ZIP code. For many, this is an obvious thing to do, but for us the Hong Kongers, this is annoying, because Hong Kong has no ZIP codes.

Not every countries have ZIP codes. In fact, about 40% of all members of the Universal Postal Union have not. While the other 60% of countries may account for an overwhelming majority of the world's population, this doesn't change the fact that making ZIP code a requisite input item is in effect creating troubles to 40% of all countries in the world.

In computer science, the issue of making a piece of software to work differently for peoples of different countries or cultures is called localisation. Most uses of localisation are about language. For instance, in some computer games one can choose the language of the dialogues and/or subtitles in the main menus. But localisation may involve other considerations as well. In the above ZIP code example, what is causing problems is not language but the mandatory input of a number that does not exist in some countries.

Designing a properly localised software is hard, because this requires a deep understanding in different peoples, organisations, countries, systems or cultures. Just take the ZIP code as an example. So I tend not to blame the developer when I'm encountering problems in a poorly localised website. But still, these poorly websites can be annoying. Here are a few examples:
  1. As mentioned in the above, why is everyone's address expected to have a ZIP code?
  2. If your business is international, why do you call it 'ZIP code' (a USA term) instead of the more generic 'postal code'?
  3. While web forms seldom force everyone to spell a middle name --- thankfully they don't --- but on some web pages, whenever your first name have more than one string tokens, they presume that one of these tokens is your first name and the others are middle names. For instance, if the evil dictator Mao Tse Tung wants to make a room reservation at Holiday Inn on King, he would have entered his first name as 'Tse Tung'. However, when he arrives at the hotel and looks at the receipt, he will learn that his name has been truncated to 'Tse', because those Western imperialists thought that 'Tung' is a middle name. This hurts the feelings of the Chinese people and their great navigator. So Toronto gets nuked.
  4. Any native Hong Konger who looks at the Yahoo's Hong Kong map will probably cry 'WTF?!' See the above image of the map. Hint for foreigners: no sane local people will spell 'Hong Kong Island' as 'Xianggangdao'.
  5. Well, this is an example that the act of localisation itself is annoying: a Chinese advertisement on an English webpage. Technically the webpage is very well localised --- it knows that I'm Chinese and so it feeds me a Chinese advertisement. But to be honest, how many people will expect something in their local languages if they want to visit a foreign website? This 'Chinese-advertisement-on-English-webpages' thing is just silly.
Have you experienced any of these or other localisation-related annoyances?

(Edited on Jan 13: for sake of readability, a large part of the original version is trimmed.)


倉頡好難學 (四言詩)

人戈日口 土口一月金 女弓木 廿人人土 竹月弓木

竹日弓日 日心竹竹 口一一口 弓戈弓戈 竹月月山山

心木大 一口尸手火 卜口尸山 金弓大手 弓戈弓戈

大弓 卜竹尸 竹土木戈 日 廿水竹口

此詩為紅朝中葉詩人屁中仙 (BWE 115 - BWE 154) 所作,內容是抒發在學習和使用中文輸入法時所遇到的挫折。 當時還沒有腦波輸入法。如要把一個中文字輸入電腦,必須在一塊有數十個按鈕,稱為鍵盤的控制版上,按兩個或多個鍵方可成功。實際要按的鍵數則視乎要輸入的文字和輸入法而定。而本詩所提及的四種輸入法(倉頡、簡易、快碼和九方)均有其令人困擾的地方。


Four easy steps to create a Cambridge Dictionary search plugin in Mozilla Firefox

The Firefox web browser has provided two dictionary searches by default. They are the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and dictionary.com. However, for those who need a British English dictionary with phonetics, the Cambridge Dictionaries Online may come to help. Here are four easy steps to create the search plugin.

1) Locate the folder where Firefox stores the search plugins. On my computer it is

C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\searchplugins

If you are not sure about this, search your hard drive for the file google.xml (I presume you haven't manually removed the Google search plugin).

2) Type (or cut and paste) the following code in notepad. Save this file as cambridge.src in the above-mentioned plugin folder.

<search version="7.1"
name="Cambridge Dictionary Online"
description="Cambridge Dictionary Online"
method="GET" >
<input name="sourceid" value="Mozilla-search">
<input name="searchword" user="">

3) Right-click this image and save it as cambridge.png in the same folder.

4) Restart Firefox and ... done!

Build Your Own Firefox Search Engine.

(Edited on 2008-01-26: if you want to create a search plugin for the Oxford Compact Dictionary, see here.)