Friday, 16 February 2018

Computer Science Internationalization - Time Zones

Yesterday, I wrote some code especially for the Chinese New Year 狗年. Look at the date in the last text box at jsfiddle.net/coas/zvubxato. I wanted to test that my code worked correctly for browsers in different time zones. I am in the UK so my time zone is currently GMT+0000. It is actually really easy to change time zone in OSX.

Go to System Preferences ➜ Date & Time ➜ Time Zone. Change of time zone is live and immediate. No need to close the time zone window nor restart your Mac. In the below screen shot I have selected Australian Eastern Daylight Time. Using JavaScript Date() I get the output Fri Feb 16 2018 22:05:34 GMT+1100 (AEDT) . This easy changing of time zones made testing of my code very easy and I did test my code with many different time zones. Why did I test with so many time zones? Well, because it was fun exploring time zones round the world😀 Did you know, for instance, that North Korea 조선민주주의인민공화국 and South Korea 대한민국 have different time zones. North Korea is currently GMT+0830 and South Korea is currently GMT+0900.

There are differences between browsers in how well they pick up the OSX timezone. Safari and Google Chrome behave best as whenever I change timezone and run my JavaScript Date() code the new timezone date is displayed. With Firefox, Opera and Yandex one has to either restart or open up a new browser window in order to get the new timezone date.

Environment: OSX High Sierra version 10.13.2

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Computer Science Internationalization - Exercises

My specialism is Computer Science internationalisation (i18n) and I encourage students to think globally when programming. Recently I gave an i18n workshop to school students. If you look at schappo.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/computer-science-internationalization_17.html you will see that all the activities are international. Take special note of the feedback at the end of my blog article.

A couple of weeks ago I gave a programming challenge to University students. If you look at https://jsfiddle.net/coas/wda45gLp you will see that the focus is on diacritics with people and place names.

Another example is a use of CSS applied to the Chinese culture schappo.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/computer-science-internationalization_16.html. One of the activities in the aforementioned workshop was to change 👀 from right looking to left looking 👀 . Unfortunately there was not sufficient time to task the students with writing CSS to produce the Chinese upside down 福.

One of the classic Computer Science exercises when teachings students a new computer language is to task them to write the code to print "Hello World". It has become almost traditional and expected. Why not task the students to write code to print "你好世界" which is Chinese for Hello World.

Another classic Computer Science exercise is to code a bubble sort. In addition to sorting ASCII text, why not also task the students to bubble sort Korean and Thai text. This will give students an appreciation of sorting order in non English languages. 〖 Chinese has at least 2 different sorting orders which will give different results. I will write about this another time. 〗

This will be one of my final year projects which I will offer to students for the 2018/2019 academic year, and which I will supervise. Here is a draft specification:

< start student project specification >

Title: Internationalised Computer Science Exercises

One way in which Computer Science departments could encourage global thinking and develop global skills is to internationalise the exercises set to students. Your task will be to produce a set of exercises along with solutions. You can choose the computer languages but you should encompass at least 2 languages. Python and JavaScript would seem to be good choices. Try to find both a school and a university Computer Science department that would be willing to trial your internationalised Computer Science exercises. You should classify your exercises as beginner, intermediate or advanced so educators can use the most appropriate exercises. You should encompass several world cultures in your exercises. I can help you with the Chinese culture. Here are some examples of internationalised Computer Science exercises which I have made public as programming challenges.

  1. Internationalised Programming Challenge 1 ➜ jsfiddle.net/coas/wda45gLp
  2. Internationalised Programming Challenge 2 ➜ jsfiddle.net/coas/3c7y88ot
  3. Internationalised Programming Challenge 3 ➜ jsfiddle.net/coas/aau8cqaw
  4. Internationalised Programming Challenge 4 ➜ jsfiddle.net/coas/etmpn6s0
  5. Internationalised Programming Challenge 5 ➜ jsfiddle.net/coas/a29c4row
  6. Internationalised Programming Challenge 6 ➜ jsfiddle.net/coas/doyepgkt
  7. Internationalised Programming Challenge 7 ➜ jsfiddle.net/coas/ejbcu68m
  8. Internationalised Programming Challenge 8 ➜ jsfiddle.net/coas/3hf8zywb
  9. Internationalised Programming Challenge 9 ➜ jsfiddle.net/coas/qa8190kn
  10. Internationalised Programming Challenge 10 ➜ jsfiddle.net/coas/8p9L3r4p
  11. Internationalised Programming Challenge 11 ➜ jsfiddle.net/coas/zvubxato
  12. Internationalised Programming Challenge 12 ➜ jsfiddle.net/coas/3699h96t

Maybe you are not confident in your programming abilities and are thinking this project is beyond you. No worries! Just write internationalised exercises at the beginner level.

Maybe you are a gifted programming and want to be challenged. If that is the case, write internationalised exercises at the advanced level.

I envisage you will make your exercises publicly available online but without the solutions. Some educators and students will request the solutions from you. Do not give them your solutions. Instead, guide them to a solution or solutions. They will learn much more this way. It will also give you an insight into how people solve problems and how much they know about internationalised programming. It is my experience that the majority in Academia know nothing about internationalised programming. You can use a method I devised for guiding people to solutions which I describe in my Internationalised Programming Challenge 1, above.

I will be attempting to solve some of your exercises using the methodology described above. I may well ask you for clue or clues. I will give you feedback on how I tackled the exercise and I will give you my solution(s). If you are a gifted programmer try writing an exercise which you think I cannot solve or to put it another way, challenge me! (hint: I am rubbish at recursion😰 )

You should endeavour to obtain feedback from both educators and students.

I will be accepting more than one student for this project. Each student will write internationalised Computer Science exercises for a different set of world cultures. I will allow some overlap with other students but this will be strictly limited. I will be offering this project to students for a number of years. My vision is that we will build up an extensive library of exercises that cover many world cultures. Educators can then mix and match exercises from different cultures. One scenario that comes to mind is of a school that teaches both Geography and Computer Science. During term 1 the Geography teacher covers, say, Poland. The Computer Science teacher could, as a consequence, choose Polish culture Computer Science exercises.

< end student project specification >

I have described setting Computer Science exercises in the context of world cultures but there is no reason why the same principles could not be applied to other disciplines. So, letʼs also have a set of Computer Science exercises that encompass the Arts. It may well also have the added benefit of encouraging collaboration between Artists and Computer Scientists, Art organisations and Computer Science departments.

Here is a first thought for a Computer Science exercise that embeds art:

You are given a table of data. Each record in the table consists four fields: colour name, red value, green value, blue value. Write a program to display the colour names of all those colours where, for example, the green value is greater than 200. You should use variables for the red, green, blue thresholds. You will then be able to run your program with different threshold values and see which colour names are displayed. Red, green and blue values are in the range 0 to 255, inclusive.

I may well set another student final year project to produce a set of Arts Computer Science exercises.

〖 more later ... 〗

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Computer Science Internationalization - Kazakhstan

I discovered, just yesterday, that Қазақстан Kazakhstan is to change itʼs writing system from the Cyrillic script to the Latin script. One proposal for the new Latin script based writing system makes extensive use of apostrophes nytimes.com/2018/01/15/world/asia/kazakhstan-alphabet-nursultan-nazarbayev.html

One argument against this apostrophe based system, from the above article is that it will be impossible to create twitter hashtags. Well yes and no. If you use the standard apostrophe which most standard keyboards will produce, then yes it will break twitter hashtags. There is though more than one apostrophe in Unicode. If you look at twitter.com/andreschappo/status/953903964722024448 and twitter.com/andreschappo/status/953944089896083456 you will see that there is one apostrophe which does not break twitter hashtags.

With my OSX ABC - Extended keyboard I can, as with any standard keyboard, type the usual apostrophe ' U+0027 APOSTROPHE but also I can type the non breaking apostrophe ʼ U+02BC MODIFIER LETTER APOSTROPHE using the key combination alt i. There is one minor complication. If the next character you will be typing, after typing the non breaking apostrophe, is either u or o then you will end up with ư U1B0 LATIN SMALL LETTER U WITH HORN or ơ U+01A1 LATIN SMALL LETTER O WITH HORN, respectively. A simple way round this problem is to type the key sequence alt i followed by space. Actually, I will make it my working practice to always use the key sequence because, inevitably, I will forget about the consequences of typing u or o after the non breaking apostrophe.

Your keyboard may well have some key combination or key sequence for typing the non breaking apostrophe. If not, then it is not actually that hard to modify a keyboard to produce the non breaking apostrophe. The last time I modified a keyboard I used Ukelele scripts.sil.org/ukelele

I have been searching for new Kazakh Latin script words and so far have found three. I have replaced breaking apostrophes with the non breaking apostrophe and put them in a tweet as hashtags ➜ twitter.com/andreschappo/status/954034152621387776

If you are wondering why I am using a lot of upper case words, it is a Unicode convention.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Computer Science Internationalization - Internationalization Workshop

This morning I gave a Computer Science Internationalization Workshop to school students. Twelve students attended my workshop which lasted just over two hours. As is my usual practice for such workshops, I made a list of topics to cover and more topics than could be covered in the time available. I then adapt as necessary. I placed emphasis on incorporating world cultures into one's thinking and programming practices. This was a participatory workshop so the students were fully involved.

I started the workshop by saying: Bon Matin, Guten Morgen, 안녕하세요, おはよございます, 早上好. So, right from the start, it is evident that this workshop is international in nature. I explained that one does not need to know multiple languages in order to build software for the world but one does need to understand characteristics of human language scripts. Chinese is much more compact than English which gives a big advantage when using microblog services which have a character limit, twitter now has a 280 character limit. Chinese and Japanese do not use spaces to separate characters and so detecting word boundaries is much harder than English which uses spaces and punctuations characters to separate words.

Topics covered in this workshop included:

  1. McDonalds I explained that common practice with global companies is to have a global gateway which has a set of links to their localised websites. Starting at UK Mcdonalds I asked the students to, without googling, find the McDonalds global gateway. It used to be possible but is no longer. I am not sure why McDonalds removed the link. Next I asked the students to find the global gateway but this time they can google. They soon found it. I explained: the way I found it was by using Opera with VPN set to America, visiting McDonalds USA and on their page was a link to the global gateway corporate.mcdonalds.com/mcd/country/map.html. I then asked the students to explore the different localisations and look for differences in foods and styling to the UK website. Next was the Asia Pacific section of the global gateway. I told the students there is a problem and then asked them what the problem is. The problem is that for China the icon displayed is Youtube but the link is actually for the Chinese video service Youku i.youku.com/u/UMzg1MDY4MTg0. I explained: China blocks access to many sites and services, youtube and twitter are blocked in China.
  2. Writing names correctly: Next was how to write my name correctly ie André and not Andre. First I asked the students to write André. They discovered that by holding down the e key down a popup appears showing e combined with various diacritics. Next, using the keyboard viewer, I showed the general procedure: hold down the alt key to see all the diacritics supported by that keyboard mapping, release the alt key to see all the letter/diacritic combinations supported by the keyboard mapping. We used the ABC - Extended keyboard mapping.
  3. Writing Chinese: Next was the basics of writing Chinese using the pinyin Simplified Chinese Input Method. I tasked the students with writing: xiao shan (小山), dian you (电邮) and zai xian (在线). Some of you will have already worked out which way this is going😀 Put these Chinese characters together and we have my Chinese email address 小山@电邮.在线. I explained: "We are on the threshold of a huge growth in registration and usage of internationalised email addresses. Rajasthan recently launched a Hindi email service whereby residents can have a free hindi email address. There is a group dedicated to promoting usage of internationalised domain names and internationalised email addresses by the name of UASG (Universal Acceptance Steering Group)." I then tasked the students to read and browse uasg.tech.
  4. Character counting: Next was character counting. I had 2 text strings: ① one (two)! [three] four five. ② pear(plum)grape!apple. I asked: from a computer's point of view, how many characters are there in these text strings. Reader: I will let you count for yourselves😀 I explained: "the brackets are full width forms and so what might be a space character followed by an opening bracket is in actual fact is just a single character. Such characters are used in Chinese and Japanese as every character, including punctuation, has the same width."
  5. Numbered webpage lists: The next task was a numbered list. I had a pre-prepared html template which the students used. We started with a standard decimal ordered list. The I showed the students the inline CSS — <ol style="list-style-type:thai;">. I then tasked the students: "Without googling, guess at language names and try them with the list-style-type." Next task was: "You can now google. Find the valid list-style-type language names." Several quickly found developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/CSS/list-style-type which is a page I frequently use. I also showed codepoints.net/search?gc=Nd to show how many different numbering systems there are which will all, hopefully, be supported at some time in the future.
  6. Rotating Unicode Characters: This programming challenge was, using CSS, change the Unicode character 👀   from right looking to left looking. I allowed googling right from the start. I did not use the word "rotate" or rotating when giving this challenge. Yesterday I wrote a blog article for this challenge. I showed this blog article briefly towards the end of the workshop   👀 schappo.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/computer-science-internationalization_16.html. In my blog article I demonstrate a cultural application.
  7. Language Adaptive Web App: In my introductory web programming module, I write demonstrator code for lectures which I then make the source available to the students to use or not use, as they wish. The web app I used in this workshop was one that is language adaptive, English and Chinese. I firstly showed the school students how to change the "preferred language for webpages" which is set by users in preferences. I used Firefox for this demo. I firstly showed my Web App with my Firefox set to preferred language = English. So the text in my buttons was in English. I then changed the preferred language to Chinese. Refresh the page and my button text is now in Chinese. I emphasised that this does not happen automatically and it does require programming to make it happen and again with most everything else I did in this workshop it is simple to do. I showed my source code. The crucial statement is: if(/zh|zh-CN|zh-TW|zh-SG|zh-HK|cmn/i.test(navigator.languages[0])){.... One thing I forgot to do was show my CJK version of my web app in which I have changed every identifier to Chinese, Japanese or Korean😀
  8. Unicode: I explained: "There are 136000+ characters in Unicode. In ASCII there are just 128 characters. Each Unicode character has a unique codepoint and when represented is usually prefixed with U+. The Unicode consortium guarantee that once a character is officially included into Unicode, it's codepoint will never change. The Unicode character set is continually being developed and a new version is released every summer. Anyone can submit a proposal for character(s) to be included into the Unicode character set. There is a Unicode Consortium group which deals specifically with Emoji proposals as Emoji are hugely popular." I then tasked the students to browse the Unicode character set using the "Emoji & Symbols" viewer.
  9. Regular Expressions (regex): We visited speakerdeck.com/andre_schappo/unicode-regular-expressions. I quickly went through some of the ASCII based slides. I stated: "If you search the net you will finds thousands upon thousands of ASCII based regex examples and explanations but what you will not see is...". I then proceeded to slide 11. I explained the cultural references and humour in slides 11,12 and 13. This is a good example of how world cultures can be incorporated into one's programming practices.
  10. A programming challenge: I finished with a programming challenge ➜ jsfiddle.net/coas/wda45gLp. I briefly explained the code but did not have time to show my solutions to the challenge.

During the workshop I said: "One problem is that there is no culture of programming internationalisation in school, college and university Computer Science departments. Therefore, staff and students do not even think to ask themselves questions such as: "I wonder if it is possible to number html list with numbers from other languages?". If they did ask themselves such a question then a quick google and they would soon discover that it possible and it is so easy to do.

I did not have much opportunity to chat with the students but one student told me: "In his school, they are only taught ASCII programming and ASCII text processing. He learned about Unicode by his own efforts and outside of the classroom." This is typical of schools, colleges and Universities. Unicode is not being taught but it most definitely should be taught.

I concluded with: "I hope you will teach your classmates and teachers about Computer Science internationalisation. If your school would like me to visit and give a workshop or presentation, I am more than happy to do so. All I ask is that my visit expenses are paid by your school.

Readers of this article: I extend the same offer to you. If you would like me to give a workshop or presentation on Computer Science internationalisation at your company, organisation, school, university, I am happy to do so. All I ask is that my expenses are paid. Computer Science internationalisation is my specialism and my passion. I can talk for hours, days, weeks, months, years about Computer Science internationalisation😀 I am not hard to find on the internet but one way of contacting me is to tweet me at twitter.com/andreschappo

Workshop participants: I hope you enjoyed this workshop. I enjoyed giving it. If there is anything I have forgotten that you would like to see included in this article, please email or tweet me. During the workshop there was not sufficient time to show you a youtube video in which Chris Broad explains one of the ways in which Japanese people celebrate Christmas. See ➜ youtube.com/watch?v=SFw-TZzqX8M. Can you spot the word play in the name of his youtube channel?

Eddy Dunton, a workshop participant, emailed me this feedback: "Overall I thoroughly enjoyed it, it touched on a topic which I had never even thought of, never mind thought to address, furthermore I thought the structure was good and it never felt like it was dragging. Personally I think it could benefit from more practical activities, although the ones we did were good quality, I didn’t feel there was enough of them. It would also be interesting to comment on the cultural differences on the different McDonald’s pages (for example I noticed the US page focused on the price of the food whereas the UK page pushed the healthier options)."

〖 Note: I wrote this article quickly whilst the workshop is fresh in my mind. In a week or so I will revisit this article and tidy it up. 〗

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Computer Science Internationalization - Rotating Unicode Characters

I sometimes encounter Unicode characters that have direction and sometimes that direction is not the direction I want. Letʼs take the character 👀 . The eyes are looking to the right. Recently I wanted the eyes to look to the left. Using CSS we can change the direction so that we have left looking eyes  👀 . Here is the inline CSS I am using in this blog article to produce left looking eyes  👀 .

<span style="display:inline-block;transform:rotate(180deg);vertical-align:15%;">
👀
</span>

福 is considered an auspicious character in the Chinese culture. If you search the net google.co.uk/search?q=福&tbm=isch you will find many images of 福 and many of these images are of an upside down 福。The CSS I use to display is exactly the same as above.

Letʼs display a that has a bit more impact.

Here is the CSS I use to display the big red .

<span style="display:block;transform:rotate(180deg);text-align:center;
text-shadow: -4px -4px 4px Grey;text-weight:800;font-size:100pt;
font-family:'Hannotate SC',cursive;color:Red;">
福
</span>

Why ? It is all to do with homophones, words that sound the same(ish). Here is an explanation from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fu_(character)

When displayed as a Chinese ideograph, Fú (福) is often displayed upside-down on diagonal red squares. The reasoning is based on a wordplay: in nearly all varieties of Chinese: the words for "upside-down" (倒, Pinyin: dào) and "to arrive" (到, Pinyin: dào) are homophonous. Therefore, the phrase an "upside-down Fú (福)" sounds nearly identical to the phrase "Good luck arrives". Pasting the character upside-down on a door or doorpost thus translates into a wish for prosperity to descend upon a dwelling.

〖 At some future time I will experiment a bit more with vertical-align values. 〗

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Computer Science Internationalization - Email Address Internationalization (EAI)

An internationalised email address is of the form Unicode@IDN where Unicode is a name consisting of Unicode characters (excluding the ASCII subset of Unicode) and an IDN (Internationalised Domain Name) consists of Unicode characters (again excluding the ASCII subset of Unicode). There are hybrid email addresses, such as, ASCII@IDN. My focus for this blog article is fully internationalised email addresses eg a fully Hindi email address.

Currently, internationalised email addresses are somewhat of a rarity and few people know they even exist or that they can register such an email. I believe, at time of writing, that we are on the threshold of a significant growth in registration and usage of internationalised email addresses.

I consider it is time to raise awareness of internationalised email addresses and that is the reason for this blog article. I will publish internationalised email addresses. I will only publish those emails which are in the public domain and which are fully internationalised. I will publish non public domain, personal email addresses but only if I am given explicit permission by the holder to publish in this blog article. This will be an ongoing article and I will endeavour to update on a regular basis.

I am aiming for some ten emails per language. When I reach my quota I will endeavour to change some of the emails so that if you revisit you will see a different set of emails.

If you do come across any fully internationalised email addresses in the public domain, please do let me know. You can tweet me at twitter.com/andreschappo.

  1. Chinese 中文
    1. 小山@电邮.在线 — my Chinese email address. 小山 is my adopted Chinese name. There is a story behind this name ➜ schappo.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/my-adopted-chinese-name.html
    2. 阿賈伊@电邮.在线 — Ajay Data अजय डाटा, CEO of Data Xgen Technologies. 阿賈伊 is a transliteration of अजय and written in hanyu pinyin is a jia yi.
  2. Hindi हिन्दी
    1. वसुंधरा@राजस्थान.भारत — Vasundhara Raje वसुंधरा राजे - At time of writing, the 13th Chief Minister of Rajasthan, India. Here is a video, from December 2017, of the official launch of the Hindi email service and of this Hindi email address ➜ youtube.com/watch?v=XmUW4n9UmFk
    2. अजय@डाटा.भारत — Ajay Data अजय डाटा, CEO of Data Xgen Technologies.
  3. Russian Русский

Friday, 12 January 2018

Copy and Paste — A Tip

My standard practice for mouse based copy & paste is:

  1. move the mouse to the text I want to copy
  2. mouse down and drag to select the target text
  3. release the mouse
  4. press the key combination ⌘C to copy the text
  5. paste to destination

I have been using this method for many many years and so have billions of other people. My very first use of a mouse was on an early Apple Mac computer so I have been using a computer mouse since around 1985.

There is though a problem with this method which I usually encounter when selecting text on a webpage. Sometimes this copy & paste method can result in the unintentional activation of a link or too much text or too little text being selected. It can be quite irritating, especially when one is in a hurry.

Several months ago I accidentally discovered a solution to this problem which works every time, or at least it has for me. The solution requires a small change to the copy & paste method. The new method is:

  1. move the mouse to the text I want to copy
  2. mouse down and drag to select the target text
  3. do NOT release the mouse ie keep your finger pressed on the mouse
  4. press the key combination ⌘C to copy the text
  5. paste to destination

On occasions, people have said that I am a slow learner. This certainly proves them right as it has taken me some 32 years to discover this copy & paste method 😀

Environment: OSX High Sierra 10.13.2