A pair of iPhone app from Omar Rabbolini, an Italian application developer currently resides in UK. These pair of iPhone apps: CantoNotes and Hanzi Lookup, will help Cantonese speaking users not familiar with writing Chinese; like myself, learn to write Chinese characters.

CantoNotes will allow users to enter Chinese characters using the LSHK (Linguistic Society of Hong KongJyutPing standard phonemes input method and CantoNotes will respond with the corresponding Chinese character. Characters displayed can be copy and paste into the built in Hanzi Lookup screen. Rather than using the built in copy & paste feature of iPhone OS, the app use its own Copy and Paste buttons. Although the iPhone OS built in copy & paste feature also works. After pasting the desired Chinese characters into the Hanzi Lookup screen, it will display the Chinese character in a medium size font, along with the Cantonese pronunciation beneath it one character at a time.

Not sure what the built in Hanzi Lookup screen is for, as the shown information is already shown in the main screen of CantoNotes. The program does have a reference in the Hanzi Lookup screen to the iTunes App Store page for the separate Hanzi Lookup app.

The Hanzi Lookup app allows users to locate meanings of Chinese characters in English, plus it provides pronunciations for the Chinese character in both Mandarin and Cantonese, along with the phonemes to enter the Chinese character in JyutPing and PingYin.

The developer is asking a relatively steep USD1.99 and USD0.99 for CantoNotes [iTunes App Store link] and Hanzi Lookup [iTunes App Store link] respectively. Given the functionalities of these application, I suggest you give it a pass.

Finger IconToday I was sent a review copy of the iPhone application called Finger, developed the Hong Kong company duo Headnix and BeansBox. From the name you will guessed that this application involves your finger, you will be correct. Finger is an ingenious application that takes advantage of the iPhone's input methods allowing the user to enter text anywhere on the computer that accepts text input.

There are two components to Finger, an iPhone paid application (@ USD7.99) and a free Desktop background application; for computers running either OS X or Windows (Windows XP or Windows Vista). Since I'm a Mac guy I did not test the Windows Desktop application. The Mac version is a native application so I presume the Windows version is also a native application.

[Update: March 30, 2009] Headnix today announced a Lite version of Finger for Free. The only difference between the Lite and regular versions is the Lite version's limit of only allowing input of 5 characters per start. This latest decision of Headnix is definitely a welcome move. It will allow more users to discover the usefulness of Finger before they commit to the USD7.99 price of the regular version. Now that there is a Lite version, I strongly recommend everyone who has a need for entering Japanese or Chinese characters to download Finger Lite on iTunes App Store to see for themselves what this little application can do.

The set up on the iPhone is quite simple. Right after you start the application for the first time or when you do not have any computer paired. It will presents you with a screen with three options:

  • Add Connection
  • About
  • Report Your Problem

I will start from the bottom.

Clicking on "Report Your Problem" will start the iPhone's Mobile Safari and brings you to Headnix's ZenDesk web interface. Allowing you to submit an issue ticket with Headnix.

The "About" option is self explanatory, it displays the company credits for the application.

Lastly, the "Add Connection" button will presents you with a four digits code to enter into the Finger Desktop application, installed on your Mac or Windows computer. It reminds you to enable the WiFi on your iPhone, but it fails to remind you that the iPhone must be connected to the same network as your computer.

Fortunately after you start the Desktop application for the first time or if you do not have an iPhone paired, it will remind you that the computer must be on the same network as your iPhone. One strange thing is that it also instructs you to turn on the WiFi connection on your Mac, which I found to be unnecessary. The pairing will work as long as your Mac and iPhone are connected on the same network (on the same IP subnet).

Entering the code from the Finger iPhone application was very Mac like. There are four large digits displayed on the iPhone screen and there are four corresponding, large fields in the window on the Mac. Another small but Mac like thing with the UI, was not requiring the user to hit tab or enter when entering the four digits code. As soon as the last digit of the code is entered the programs automatically begins the pairing process.

It then presents you with a new screen to tell you about the Finger Desktop (background) application. It also presents you with a large field to test the character input from the Finger iPhone application. This field can use much larger text since quantity is not as important as visibility.

That's it you are now set up to use your iPhone as another text input device for your Mac.

For most of you, non-Chinese readers, will ask, is this a gimmicky application? Isn't there a keyboard that comes with every computer (except may be the Mac Mini)? Why would I want to use the iPhone as my text input device? Those are all very good questions.

You are correct about the keyboard, but the some of the built-in OS X keyboard input methods for the international languages (ie. Chinese, Japanese, etc.) requires a learning curve. Especially when the keyboard you're using is not native to the language of the input method. What the iPhone has, at least for Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), is a handwritten input method. Such input method is only available to the Mac through tablet input device, costing way more than USD7.99 that Headnix is charging for Finger at the iTunes App Store. This is a similar case on the Windows side. So Finger is not only an inexpensive solution, it is also very convenient, as the iPhone is something you bring everywhere.

Overall Finger is an elegant and useful application, at least for the Chinese community. Please don't get me wrong, Finger will support any input methods that are enabled on the iPhone, even emoji if the application on the Mac supports it. I must say Headnix got itself another winner here. Although the price of the application is relatively inexpensive when you compare to the solutions available to the Mac and Windows computers. I think USD7.99 may be a bit hard to swallow for most iPhone owners.

These dynamic duo of Headnix and Beansbox have created consistent, quality applications and web sites respectively, so the quality of the execution found in this latest iPhone application is no surprise. I first encountered Headnix when I was introduced to its free OS X screen capture software Clip It! Beansbox on the other hand is a web development company based in Hong Kong who had a hand in some of the latest Web2.0 stars, including ZenDesk.

Today my mother showed me this free Chinese New Year poster (Fai Chun, Spring Couplets) she saw in a local newspaper (Apple Daily, Jan. 23, 2009). Even though my Chinese is not that good, I too notice the mistake in the poster, which had been distributed throughout Hong Kong.

Are the standards of our young generation that poor? The worst part, is that it demonstrates the lack of pride Editors of Hong Kong newspapers have for their jobs.

Posted
AuthorVinko
CategoriesObservation

Poster

My Rating: 3Stars

睇完套戲,有很多似曾相識的感覺...「Sex and the City」加「証人」混合版?我覺得「大」這套戲的題材同「証人」差不多,都係講綁架,可能睇咗「証人」無幾耐啦,同埋我實在睇咗好多次Sex and the City啦。「大」戲中4個女人的開場戲和戲中鄭秀文男友係藝術家醉心創作藝術品這部份實在勾起我腦海浮現Sex and the City部份類同的片段,所以有這樣的感覺...! 「大」戲故事雖然簡單,你我都會估到故事結局,但故事的轉折點係幾吸引,亦有意外的幽默情節,確實有它特別之處,都值得買飛入場睇。 httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvkECYTt_MM

Rating Legend:
5Stars Not to be missed
4Stars Wait for the DVD
3Stars Buy from iTunes Store
2Stars Rent it on iTunes
1Stars Waste your time elsewhere
Posted
AuthorVinko
CategoriesMovie Review

Poster

My Rating: 3Stars

睇完套戲,有很多似曾相識的感覺...「Sex and the City」加「証人」混合版?我覺得「大」這套戲的題材同「証人」差不多,都係講綁架,可能睇咗「証人」無幾耐啦,同埋我實在睇咗好多次Sex and the City啦。「大」戲中4個女人的開場戲和戲中鄭秀文男友係藝術家醉心創作藝術品這部份實在勾起我腦海浮現Sex and the City部份類同的片段,所以有這樣的感覺...! 「大」戲故事雖然簡單,你我都會估到故事結局,但故事的轉折點係幾吸引,亦有意外的幽默情節,確實有它特別之處,都值得買飛入場睇。 httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvkECYTt_MM

Rating Legend:
5Stars Not to be missed
4Stars Wait for the DVD
3Stars Buy from iTunes Store
2Stars Rent it on iTunes
1Stars Waste your time elsewhere
Posted
AuthorVinko
Categories影評

Poster

My Rating: 3Stars

剛剛睇完《地球停轉日》, 故事內容非常簡單,但故事背後卻帶出深深的教訓,有警醒的作用,希望每個人睇完戲後除了讚賞其特技效果外,能夠自我反省。若愛我們的下一代,愛身邊的人,愛我們住緊的地球,請不要再自私!

Rating Legend:
5Stars Not to be missed
4Stars Wait for the DVD
3Stars Buy from iTunes Store
2Stars Rent it on iTunes
1Stars Waste your time elsewhere
Posted
AuthorVinko
CategoriesMovie Review

Poster

My Rating: 5Stars

剛剛睇完《証人》,一散場就叫好...好久都未試過睇完港產片就叫好,上次叫好是睇完《無間道》。

"証人"情節拍得好細緻,好緊湊,前呼後應,睇得出拍得好有Heart,一些都無諗過當觀眾低能,特技效果"正",每一個演員都是好戲之人,特別係謝霆鋒,張家輝,智叔。未睇套戲之前都聽說影評讚好才去睇,詁唔到真係咁好睇,超水準之作,港產片真是掂的。

Another late addition in Vinko's Must See Movies list.

Rating Legend:
5Stars Not to be missed
4Stars Wait for the DVD
3Stars Buy from iTunes Store
2Stars Rent it on iTunes
1Stars Waste your time elsewhere
Posted
AuthorVinko
CategoriesMovie Review