## 2008年1月30日星期三

### (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.

## 2008年1月26日星期六

### 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The Oxford Dictionaries website has changed its query method, so that the method of building a search plugin below is no longer valid.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.

## 2008年1月25日星期五

### 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

【明報專訊】說到法興，本港股民可能只知道該行做窩輪生意，其實他們在世界各地均有業務...

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?

## 2008年1月18日星期五

### 不要亂搭訕

「你太太剛剛出院吧」，我微笑著說。

「唉，她今天心情不好呀！聽了一個壞消息。醫院說她的化療失敗，現在唯有試試吊一種鹽水，每次七千元啊！一會吃過飯後就入院了。」

## 2008年1月16日星期三

### 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？

…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。

(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。)

## 2008年1月15日星期二

### 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。

## 2008年1月11日星期五

### 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.

## 2008年1月9日星期三

### 我的2007年十項國際大事回顧

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。

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。

## 2008年1月7日星期一

### 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.)

## 2008年1月3日星期四

### 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"
action="http://dictionary.cambridge.org/results.asp"
searchForm="http://dictionary.cambridge.org/results.asp"
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!

Reference:
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.)