We need a fundamental change …

… in the way we input text into computers.

Just watched a Youtube video of a Japanese explaining how they input sentences on an English keyboard, to construct Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji glyphs. That sucks, but it is SO weird that they don’t use a dedicated keyboard. Even stranger, other languages such as French (see the first comment) can’t even input their own characters such as diacritical capital letters, so they are re-inventing the AZERTY keyboard.

Years back I reprogrammed a keyboard controller on a mainframe so that I could learn Dvorak keyboards. To my real surprise I found that within a couple of days I could type reasonably fast using the new layout. The real challenge? Doing technical things (I was a programmer) that occasionally required me to find things on the actual keyboard.

There’s the rub.

ASCII and the extended EBCDIC are pretty reasonable, IF you are an English speaker. That’s the whole reason for the invention of Unicode: expand the code space so that other languages can have space! Before that it was DBCS attempting the same. Now along come emojis and we all get funky. But there is a fundamental disconnect between our spoken and written languages AND our text input methods that requires us to learn no less than three or four ways of using it for communication.

Take the swipe type keyboards. These work great for you if you have learned by heart how to type fast on a QWERTY keyboard. I type really really fast on them an it is only autocorrect that gets in the way. But, I am going through three stages of conversion

  • I compose a sentence in my head
  • I visualise this in QWERTY layout
  • I swipe through the glyph that represents the key presses
  • The word appears on the screen.

Essentially, I have reinvented a chinese or japanese way of writing, but for English.

That’s pretty amazing, and someone somewhere should write a book about it.

Under my stairs is a cave

… full of diamonds and monsters, bats and little androgynous block figures.

The world of Minecraft is a sandbox world, with lots of running around digging and discovering all manner of ores and useful things.  My son started playing it on various servers world-wide with his friends, and eventually persuaded me to

To get this running on a server under my stairs took a little bit of network and computer building, not the least of which was cobbling together a machine from bits of scrap computer parts.  It’s resulted in a multiple mess of computers, networks, VPNs (virtual private networks) and lots of computer kit wired on the side of my stairs.  Fun, fun, fun.

First off was the machine.  An old case from a friend was used with a ‘spare’ motherboard, and a dual-core CPU of which I have a few lying around.  Then the OS was loaded by putting Ubuntu onto it, and Apache loaded with the administration software called Multicraft which allows us to control it from a distance.  Then the network presented problems, so I hard-wired it into my local network to bring the total number of unique ids to approx 40 machines with independent addresses.  A little crazy but necessary for the Internet of Things (or as one friend put it, “I’ve reserved a IP6 network address for every molecule in my house”).  After a while we automated it totally so that startup would be automatic including switching on the machine, starting the OS, and starting the servers which would allow connection from my son’s gaming ‘clan’ into it.

So far they have had a ball building virtual houses and roller coasters, along with a few spats about some ‘griefing’ between players.  He connects remotely using a encrypted tunnel and I think the whole thing has taught us both a little more about computers!