Category Archives: Technology

The Origins of Hawaiian Language Support in Mac OS and iOS: So You Want To Change The World?

BryanFryeOnly a handful of my friends will recognize the gentleman standing in the back of this picture, Brian Frye. He is one of the unsung heroes of getting technology support for ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i to where it is today. I’ve told this story to some folks privately, but never shared it publicly before. Since he’s not at Apple anymore, it’s safe to do so.

Brian was an Apple support engineer for Hawai‘i in the mid-late 1990s. During his time here we became friends, and he tried to help me find the individuals who could assist us in getting support for the Hawaiian language into Mac OS, but with little luck. He returned to work at Apple’s at headquarters after that. One day he was walking through the hallways of Apple’s headquarters, passed a couple of people talking in the hallway, and overheard one say to the other, “what other languages don’t we support?” Turns out they were system engineers working on language support in OS X. He stopped, introduced himself and said “there is a guy in Hawai‘i you need to talk to.” Me. The connection was made, and 18 months or so of email exchanges, swapped files, and testing followed. On August 24, 2002, Mac OS 10.2 shipped, and in it were a Hawaiian keyboard, sorting routines and some translated strings (mostly date and time related).

The fact that iOS’s core software was largely based on OS X meant that a lot of support for Hawaiian that is baked into OS X transferred to iOS. Brian had left Apple by then, but the connections he helped forge remained, and we were able to get them to add the ability to type the ‘okina and kahakō, and eventually a Hawaiian keyboard in iOS. Other friends have helped along the way, but as they are still at Apple it is best if I don’t name names here. But none of it would have happened if not for that chance meeting in Cupertino. Mahalo nui, Brian. If any of you have ever typed an ‘okina or kahakō on any Apple device, you should mahalo him as well. And mahalo Beryl Morimoto for sharing the pic.

Pipi holo ka‘ao…

Cloud Storage: The Latest Threat To Our Online Privacy And Data Security?

It’s really difficult what to make all of this and to what level we really need to be concerned. If the NSA has reportedly cracked all of the encryption technologies that are used in personal and commercial data communications in the U.S., there is no reason to believe others have not done the same or will do so soon – be they foreign governments or criminals. To the “security experts” who won’t use e-banking or e-commerce technology, me thinks the odds of your being ripped off by the minimum wage barista at Starbucks are infinitely higher than they are of someone cracking your e-banking connection, stealing your login information and your money.

I had to buy a new wireless router this week when our TimeCapsule died. Not an Apple, but something that require a bit more setup, and because of Flash issues (I believe), I ended up with a tech support guy named Roger that sounded like his name should have been Rahib. Nearly two hours later it was fixed, but our home automation controller couldn’t connect to it. A few days of fiddling with it made me realize that I hadn’t added its MAC address to the router’s “allowed” list. All this to make sure that no one within a 100′ radius or so of our house couldn’t get into our network, use our connectivity, turn on our water heater in the middle of the night and run up our electric bill, or get into our personal files, if they even were capable of doing so (though the guy downstairs is a former Silicon Valley programmer. Hmmm…).

Cloud providers? Makes you wonder that even if you don’t keep valuable data on them if the government has forced them to provide backdoors that allows anyone with their software (DotMac, DropBox, Google Drive, Copy, Amazon, etc) to get into areas of your computer that aren’t sync’d. Paranoid or justifiably concerned? I dunno.

No answers here, but just a lot of thought about how much time and effort we put into protecting our money, knowledge and data, and how successful we can really be in doing so. But revelations like this might do it. If people stop using these kinds of services and it starts affecting the bottom line of big US companies, would changes be not far behind?

Attacking The Electric Bill, Pt. 2

Nice ViewWhen my wife and I moved from Hilo back to Maui, we looked into buying a house, but settled on a nice townhouse condo at Ho‘ole‘a Terrace, just outside Wailuku on the road to Waikapū. One of the few drawbacks of this choice (see one view to the right) is that we don’t have the option to add photovoltaic or solar water heating panels. I have written previously about our attempts to get our electric bills under control in our old home in Kurtistown, and these limitations proved to be motivation to find other ways to lower our electric bill.

The water heater for our unit is in a ground floor storage room that we are forbidden from entering without advanced approval from the management company. Fortunately, the circuit breaker for the heater is in our unit. We’ve been manually turning it on and off to save electricity, but you know how that goes–some days we forget to turn it off when we leave in the morning, or when we go to sleep at night, or forget to get up early to turn it on to have hot water for morning showers.

Mi Casa Verde LiteI considered adding a simple, mechanical timer to the circuit, but also wanted to get a grip on other appliances that unnecessarily drained electricity. After looking at various X25 and Insteon units, I decide to get a Z-Wave system from Mi Casa Verde called VeraLite. It looked like it had a pretty nice web interface with flexible programming, and could be accessed via my mobile phone. There also seemed to be a nice selection of receptacles, switches, web cameras, door locks, sensors, and other devices that could be controlled from this unit. So I ordered one and several receptacles.

Elk 9200The next task was to find a 220v relay for the water heater. It turns out there is no receptacle or any other Z-wave compatible device that can control a 220v appliance. I did find this Elk 9200 220v relay that could be controlled by a 110v Z-wave receptacle, so I ordered on of those as well. At this point I needed to call in a pro, but opted to call in my father instead. Hehe. The Elk relay was a bit bulky and housed in an unecessarily large white metal lock box. The excessive size turned out to be a blessing, and it was large enough to hold a receptacle box.

GE Zwave receptacleWe pulled another line from the breaker panel to power the relay, connected the water heater’s line to the other side, and brought in another 110v circuit to power the Z-wave receptacle outlet that controls the 220v relay. Confused yet? Dont worry, we were for a while, too. What we figured would take about two hours turned into a five hour job, but hopefully it’s worth it.

Mi Casa Verde’s MiOS web interface turned out to be not as intuitive as it seemed at first glance, and took about a half hour to figure out. Their docs are not that great, and lack any really helpful examples or explanation of their scenes, triggers and schedule, or at least how they are interconnected. But I set up the heater to come on in the morning, turn off after two hours, turn on again in late afternoon, and turn off again in the evening.

The next step was to find an Android app that works with the VeraLite, and House Buddy turned out to be the winner. I simply logged into my account on Mi Casa Verde’s site, it automatically showed all of my “scenes” and devices. Turning the water heater relay on or off from my HTC One V was almost instantateous.

KillAWattMonitor_DetailThe next step was to seek out vampires… vampire loads, that is. Vampire loads are devices that use electricity even when they are not in use. The power supplies that come with just about everything we own use electricity all the time, though in recent years they have gotten much more efficient. I pulled out my trusty Kill-A-Watt, as I had done at our old home, and began sleuthing. The technician from Time-Warner Oceanic cable that installed our equipment warned me against using anything to power down their devices for any length of time as the system updates it frequently, and if it were powered down during an update it could disable the unit and require service. A quick check with the Kill-A-Watt showed that all of their devices combined, as well as our Apple Time Machine, cost about $20 a month to operate. Figuring someone is in the house and probably using the Internet about 60% of the time, the cost saved by  powering these units off didn’t outweight the inconvenience of having to get a disabled device working again.

My CPAP uses about $5 a month just being plugged in as it has one of those block DC power supplies like many printers do. That will be the next to receive a Z-wave controlled outlet so the power supply will be disconnected during the day. Another nice feature of these receptacles is that they have a button on them that allows you to turn them on if they are off, or off if they are on. Pretty handy. Until I get a computer desk and some of my other equipment online, it doesn’t seem that there is much else worthy of the cost of these recepticles. The electric bill for the first full month in our unit was $127, so I’ll report back when I figure out if this was worth the time and effort we put into doing this.

And thanks, Dad!



Visual Basic Scripts Back In Word 2011 For Mac

For whatever reason, I never did warm up to MS Word 2007 for Mac, and continued to use Word 2004 until recently. When I received my new MacBookPro 13′, I decided to abandon Office 2004 and make the leap to Office 2011. I’m glad I did, and just noticed something pretty cool. The ability to run Visual Basic macros-removed from Office 2007–is back. This means that the VB macros I originally wrote to convert documents written in our old HI font system to Unicode work again. So if you happen to have older documents that have Hawaiian text in the HI format, you can easiliy convert them to Unicode. While probably less useful, there is also a macro that converts Unicode-formatted Hawaiian back to HI font format.

And of course if you don’t know what any of this means, it probably doesn’t affect you. Please ignore.

New Windows 8 Operating System Supports The Hawaiian Language

While still a devout Macintosh user, I’m extremely grateful for friends at Microsoft who shepherded this project through to completion, and saw that the work we did stayed embedded as Windows 8 was being developed. I’ll be documenting how to activate the keyboard and type the ‘okina and kahakō later, but if you have Win 8, please feel free to explore and experiment.

And I would like to ask my fellow Macintosh aficionados to refrain from the normal litany of Windows bashing. This is significant development for the language that will help other important projects move forward.

I’m cautiously optimistic that this will be my swan song when it comes to technology and the Hawaiian language. This PR piece went out today from the UH media office.

Kahului, HI — November 8, 2012 — In a major step forward in promoting and perpetuating the Native Hawaiian language, Microsoft’s recent launch of Windows 8 includes support for the Hawaiian language, thanks to a collaborative effort with University of Hawaiʻi faculty.

The Windows 8 operating software includes a Hawaiian keyboard layout in the operating system, many fonts containing the diacritical marks used in the Hawaiian language, and other localized resources such as the ability toshow days of the week and months in Hawaiian.  This development was made possible by the joint efforts of staff of Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo and Microsoft.

Keola Donaghy, formerly of Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani and now a faculty member in the music department of University of Hawai‘i Maui College, collaborated with programmers in Microsoft’s Local Languages Program for several years to develop these resources and see that they were included inWindows 8. “We’re getting very close to the day that Hawaiian speakers will be able to take for granted the fact that they can simply type in Hawaiian when they buy a new computer, tablet, or smart phone without installing special software,” Donaghy said.

“Providing technology support in a native language is critical to helping people access the tools they need to create better economic opportunities,” said Anthony Salcito, Vice President of Worldwide Education for Microsoft.  “Language preservation and support also helps preserve cultural identities for the next generation of learners.”

Keiki Kawae‘ae‘a, a faculty member of Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani added, “We are thrilled that Microsoft has recognized the significance of the Hawaiian language to its people, and how important it is for us to be able to use it on our computers. Given the high percentage of personal computers that ship with and run the Windows operating system, this is one of the most significant developments that we’ve made.”

Language support for computer operating systems and programs has historically depended on the number of speakers of the language and perceived market. Major European and Asian languages have been widely supported by software vendors for many years, while speakers of native American, Polynesian, and other indigenous languages have had to depend on customized fonts and keyboards simply to be able to view, type and print the characters used in their languages on personal computers.

However, in recent years major operating system and software vendors such as Microsoft, Google, and Apple Computer, Inc. have recognized the importance of supporting a wider array of languages.

More Details on iOS 5’s Hawaiian Language Support

Last week Apple released iOS 5, the latest version of their operating system for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. There has always been some support for Hawaiian language in iOS. Since it shares some core software with OS X, and OS X has supported Hawaiian since 2002, iOS has had the ability to display the ‘okina and kahakō since it first shipped, and we were delighted when some of our translated strings showed up in that first version as well. With version 3, iOS has been able to generate the ʻokina and kahakō by pressing and holding the vowels and selecting those characters from a list of vowel and diacritic combinations that pops up. iOS 5 takes this support to a while new level.

There is now a Hawaiian keyboard in the OS. Why is this significant, since you could previously generate the ‘okina and kahakō? First, it is a boon for iPad owners who like to use external keyboards. Previously, there was no way to type the ‘okina or kahakō easily using an external keyboard. Now, if you select the Hawaiian keyboard in the iOS general preferences, you type the ‘okina and kahakō in the same way that you type them on Mac OS X – by simply typing the apostrophe for the ʻokina, and holding down the option key while you type the kahakō.

Another feature on the new soft keyboard (the one that displays itself on the screen), is that there is a new way to type the ʻokina. While you can still long-hold the vowels and select the vowel-‘okina from the list that pops up. Now, there is also a stand-alone kahakō on the right side, next to the ‘okina. If you type a vowel and then press this key, it will insert the kahakō over that vowel. This is cool as this is how you would spell out the vowel combination ‘ā-kō, ‘ē-kō, ī-kō, etc. I’m sure those that use the soft keyboard exclusively and want to type in Hawaiian will love it. Also note that the return key has “Kāho‘i” on it. I love it.

The final new feature is that there is now spell-checking for Hawaiian, based on an extensive word list that we provided to Apple. It’s not perfect, but none are. The spell-check and suggestions are based largely on the letters that surround the intended vowel. In the example shown on this graphic, the “g” that is mistakenly typed is next to the letter “h” on the keyboard, so it works well. One kind of typo it does not seem to catch is if you fail to type a word-initial ‘okina, and quite often inside the word as well. If you spell ‘ōlelo as olelo, it will not suggest ‘okina as a potential correct spelling. Hopefully this kind of situation can be addressed in future updates, but it’s still a huge improvement.

Mahalo again to Apple for their support of ka ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i.

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together: More ‘Ōlelo Support in iOS

A new iPhone was announced today, the iPhone 4S, and the response to Apple’s press conference was a bit lukewarm. Many were expecting the iPhone 5 and/or iOS5 today. But one of the more exiting developments for us was found on the specification sheet for the phones (tip o’ the cap to Joseph Erb for the heads up): there will be a Hawaiian keyboard and spell-check document included. Yes, we’ve had support for the ‘okina and kahakō in the iPhone and iPad for a while; however, while you can generate them from the soft keyboard by long-holding your finger on a vowel, you could not type it when your device (iPads, mostly) was attached to an external keyboard. With this new development you will be able to do so. As soon as these features show up I’ll discuss them further. I believe all you will need to do to activate the Hawaiian spell-checker is select the Hawaiian keyboard.

Mahalo e ko Apple i ke kāko‘o mau ‘ana i ka ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i!

Kontakt 4/Steve Slate Drums Loading Issues Resolved!

Perhaps one or two people who follow this blog will know what I’m even talking about, but I’d documenting it for the benefit of those who have or will lose hair over this issue. I’ve been using Steve Slate Drums and the Kontakt player for about a year now in my recording. It was great for a long time, but about 7-8 months ago I started having issues with incredibly long load times – sometimes it would take a half-hour or more to load Logic Express projects that contained Kontakt instruments. I crawled the discussion boards, searched Google, deleted .plist files, rebuilt databases, and nothing worked. Finally, today, a breakthrough – Sophos was the culprit. Sophos is an anti-virus program for Mac that looks through files as you download or open them. It occasionally catches a MS Word macro virus in files that are sent to me, but that’s about the only time it’s ever actually done anything for me. Because of the number and size of the samples that Kontakt and SSD contain, it was looking through ever bit of data in the files before it would allow Kontakt to open them. I turned of Sophos, restarted, and- tada! – the files open in seconds.