I often need to change the network proxies settings frequently due to the need to bypass the GFW when accessing websites that are considered “bad”, and have to set the settings back to not using any proxies when accessing “good” websites.
Doing so in Firefox is easy thanks to the little yet handy plugin called SwitchProxy, but for Safari or other applications which use the global system settings of Mac OS, one has to go through many steps in System Preferences to set them, and then go through the exact steps again to unset them. Too repetitive. I wish there is a way to set and unset proxies easily, but I cannot find one. I bit the bullet and use AppleScript (yuck) to do that, here’s the complete script (beware, this is my first AppleScript program):
set proxyServer to "localhost" set proxyPort to "30000" tell application "System Preferences" activate set the current pane to pane id "com.apple.preference.network" get the name of every anchor of pane id "com.apple.preference.network" reveal anchor "Proxies" of pane id "com.apple.preference.network" end tell tell application "System Events" tell process "System Preferences" tell window "Network" tell sheet 1 tell tab group 1 tell group 1 repeat with n from 1 to 3 tell scroll area 1 tell table 1 select row n tell row n click checkbox 1 set turnOnProxy to value of checkbox 1 end tell end tell end tell if turnOnProxy is 1 then tell group 1 set focused of text field 1 to true set value of text field 1 to proxyPort set focused of text field 2 to true set value of text field 2 to proxyServer end tell end if end repeat end tell end tell click button "OK" end tell click button "Apply" end tell end tell end tell ignoring application responses tell application "System Preferences" to quit end ignoring if turnOnProxy is 1 then say "Proxies are set" else say "Proxies are unset" end if
I hate to use AppleScript as it simply plays back what a human does, and so the speed is slow, which takes about 5 seconds to finish. I tried to do that by shell script but I couldn’t find the right way to do so, having looked at the
defaults command but seems it is not capable at what I want. Anybody knows?
Popularity: 7% [?]
Typesetting LaTeX with CJK on Mac OS X is provided out-of-box by MacTeX, so working with LaTeX should be a breeze on Mac OS X. However, MacTeX ships with only two Chinese fonts, Arphic Ming Big5 (bsmi) and Arphic Sung GB2312 (gbsn). As I want to use Kai I have to look around for solutions.
I found this great website that explains how to use LaTeX and the CJK package on OS X. The good news is that the author of the page provides a shell script for installing any Unicode truetype fonts for TexLive so that you can use the truetype fonts in your LaTeX documents. The bad news is… it doesn’t work on my system. I tried it on both Arphic Big5 and GB2312 Kai fonts, and when I ran my LaTeX document through the
latex command (or in TeXShop, for that matters), I came to this error:
! Package inputenc Error: Keyboard character used is undefined (inputenc) in inputencoding `utf8'. See the inputenc package documentation for explanation. Type H
for immediate help. ... l.194 ^^[ ndinput
Trying the shell script on the STKaiti font (/Library/Fonts/华文楷体.ttf) shipped with OS X, is even worse, because ttf2tfm gives a "Bus error" (or segfault on Linux) when parsing the truetype font, looks like a bug in ttf2tfm:
$ ttf2tfm stkaiti.ttf -P 0 -E 3 -w "stkaitiu@Unicode@" This is ttf2tfm version 1.5 stkaitiu00: Glyph Code Glyph Name Width llx lly urx ury ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Bus error
At the end, I resort to extracting the necessary files from Debian packages (hurray Debian) and put them into ~/Library/texmf, and that works!
The Debian packages I use are latex-cjk-chinese-arphic-bkai00mp and latex-cjk-chinese-arphic-gkai00mp. Since Debian packages are just
ar archives, they can be extracted by the
ar x command. After the deb package has been extracted, extract the data.tar.gz file, and then look for the folders called
tex, move them to
~/Library/texmf, which you have to create. Now you should have a directory structure like this:
After the font files have been put in place, run these two commands (for the Big5 Kai truetype font):
$ sudo texhash $ sudo updmap --enable Map bkaiu.map
For the GB2312 one, use:
$ sudo texhash $ sudo updmap --enable Map gkaiu.map
It's that easy!
Popularity: 18% [?]
Stumbled upon a toy which performs Japanese handwriting recognition online by using ajax as the frontend. As I said it’s just a toy so the correctness is so so, but nonetheless a very good proof-of-concept. This toy uses Support Vector Machine as the underlying algorithm so the program is able to learn from the user’s handwriting. Ever since I made lamerpad I realize that pattern recognition should be a better means to handle handwriting recognition than analyzing stroke patterns, such as stroke order, numbers and positions, which lamerpad employs, as stroke structures vary from person to person. But by using machine learning algorithms like SVM or artificial neural networks, a hybrid system could be made, such system not only can learn from how the character looks, but also how the character is written by the user. By now Chinese handwriting recognition technology is already quite mature, but just no such open source programs, SCIM handwriting module, anyone?
- http://www.teresi.us/html/writing/handwriting.html: “Handwriting Recognition, Using a Neural Network Character Classifier”, have a description of Newton Messagepad’s handwriting recognition engine
- http://www.byte.com/art/9609/sec17/art7.htm: overview of companies that work on Chinese handwriting recognition
Popularity: 22% [?]
Now Google Calendar users in China can finally enjoy the same SMS alert service as in other countries. Although they mentions China Unicom as the only mobile provider to be supported, I have no problem in registering the service and receiving alerts even I’m a China Mobile subscriber. This alert service is very handy to everyone, as Google Calendar will send you SMS to your mobile phone whenever an event is going to begin.
An interesting tidbit is, they sent the verification code to my mobile phone via HUTCHISON_HK, where HUTCHISON is one of the mobile service providers in Hong Kong. It seems that Google choose neither China Mobile nor China Unicom, the two major mobile providers in China, as their partners.
Popularity: 5% [?]
Ditu (地圖, 地图) means map in Chinese. China has long been missing from the global Google Maps. Zooming into the China border, only patches of grey blocks are shown, occasionally with blue lines here and there indicating rivers and lakes, and worst of all, maps are just unavailable after you have drilled down deep enough.
Usually this doesn’t pose any problems as Google China serves China maps (and only China maps) at Google 地图, which provides all the functionalities of the global Google Maps website, sans satellite images. This is annoying nevertheless, it’d be the best if users can see maps of China seamlessly when they’re viewing maps.google.com, without jumping out from maps.google.com and then type in another URL just to view some data that’s still backwardly regarded by the Chinese authority as confidential and sensitive.
“Hybrid” mode for China maps is another feature that would be handy to Chinese users. Satellites images are already available but just not being shown on ditu.google.com. Since hybrid mode requires a special layer of map tiles, specially they have a transparent background so that the satellite images can show through underneath the maps, without post-processing map data provided by Mapabc this is not achievable. By Google’s terms of usage of the map data, processing the maps and then re-distribute is not legal. We can only use some freely redistributable map data such as from www.openstreetmap.org.
Hooking up maps.google.com with maps from Google China is not difficult, actually that’s much easier than I thought because Google Maps API already have the mechanism to add a new map type for showing custom map data. My proof-of-concept is shown below, press the “Ditu” button at the top right hand corner and you’ll see maps delivered from ditu.google.com.
Ideally, this “mashup” should best be implemented using the new Google Mapplets, this will give users the best user experience as they only need to add a mapplet and then Google China maps will be embedded to the map window automatically, users are not required to go to this page. But since Google Mapplets doesn’t support adding new map types due to security concerns, this currently is not an option. Frankly, I don’t see there’s any security concerns by supporting new map types.
Don’t be surprised if you notice that the satellite images do not align with the Google China maps, because Google China intentionally shifted the latter to please the Chinese authority. Did it say that the maps are regarded as national security?
Popularity: 28% [?]