Romanization Converter: Beta 2 with Firefox Integration

Some new and very useful functions (at least for me):

Please note that all links below have been shortened to improve readability. To get the complete URL, you have to add in front of it or simply right click on the link and select “Copy Link Location” if you are using Mozilla Firefox or “Copy Shortcut” if you are using Internet Explorer.

1. Set your preferred input and output romanization system and then bookmark the URL (see below no. 3 for all options):

converter.html?in=pinyin&out=bopomofo sets Pinyin as input and Bopomofo (tone marks) as output

2. This is even better: Pass the string that you want to convert:

converter.html?i=pinyin_sfn&o=bopomofo&q=hen3hao3 shows ㄏㄣˇㄏㄠˇ right away!

Please note that the variables are now named i for the input system and o for the output system, q is the (urlencoded) text you want to convert. If you only specify q but not i and o , the text will be shown in the converter and then you’ll have to manually select the input and output conversion systems.

The best thing about this is that you can use the Advanced URL Builder Extension for Firefox to highlight some text and then have it converted with two mouse clicks. 🙂

After you installed the extension, go to Tools > Extensions, select Advanced URL Builder and click on Options. Specify a name, it will be shown in the context menu, so make it meaningful, then enter the url in the syntax as shown above, ending with &q=. The extension will automatically add the highlighted text and paste it to the end of the URL.

Example for converting Pinyin with tone marks to Bopomofo (my favourite):
Name: Pinyin TM > Bopomofo (or something you’ll understand)
URL: converter.html?i=pinyin&o=bopomofo&q=

Example for converting Tongyong with tone marks to Pinyin:
Name: Tongyong TN > Pinyin TM
URL: converter.html?i=tongyong&o=pinyin&q=

Example for a universal query, it will copy the highlighted text and then let you select the input and output systems manually:
Name: RConverter
URL: converter.html?i=tongyong&o=pinyin&q=

To use the extension in connection with the converter, highlight the text you want to convert, right-click, select “Find using…” and the appropriate conversion (the “name” given above).

3. Input and output romanization system values:

  • bopomofo: Bopomofo
  • gwoyeu: Gwoyeu Romatzyh
  • mps2_sfn: MPSII (numbers)
  • mps2: MPSII (tone marks)
  • pinyin_sfn: Pinyin (numbers)
  • pinyin_htm: Pinyin (numeric HTML entities) probably useless in this context
  • pinyin: Pinyin (tone marks)
  • top: Tonally ortographic pinyin (TOP)
  • tongyong_sfn: Tongyong (numbers)
  • tongyong: Tongyong (tone marks)
  • wadegiles: Wade-Giles
  • yale_sfn: Yale

You’ve got mail – from Malta!

Thinking about using a remailing service to save money? Think again!

Malta Postage PaidToday was a happy day for me as the software that comes bundled with my new managed server finally arrived. Actually, I had expected to receive it one week ago.

Looking at the postage stamp, I noticed the letter had not been sent from Germany (where our company’s web host is based), but from Malta. This might explain the delay and reminded me of an invitation to a trade fair a German supplier had sent me, also from Malta. It arrived about 10 days after the fair was over. 🙄

Web Developer and other Firefox extensions

Imagine you’re sent to a remote island and you’re only allowed to take one Firefox extension: which one would it be?

For web developers, it can only be the aptly named web developer extension: whether you’re using it to test your own pages or to find out how someone else designed his website, this extension is extremely useful. The only thing I miss is the ability to disable frame support, but this feature is already on the to-do list (if you need it badly, Opera has an option to disable frames).

Not a web developer? Use Foxclocks to display the time in different cities around the world or Crash Recovery to automatically restores all opened pages after a crash happened (useful if you behave like me and always open new tabs instead of bookmarking interesting websites right away). – VoIP with any ordinary phone

Combine the advantages of VoIP with a WWW-triggered callback system and you get: Jajah, the newest VoIP prodigy child.

No need to install software on your PC, no need to use a headset or an external VoIP gateway or phone: all you need is an internet connection to enter your phone number and the number you want to call in your browser. Seconds later, your phone rings and the connection to the destination number is established.

It’s hard to imagine an easier solution for making cheap phone calls and even your least tech-savvy friends and relatives should be able to use Jajah. 😉 But Jajah is more than some sort of “Skype for idiots”, just consider the following situations:

  • You’re using almost all your bandwidth to download… uh, “large files”, so PC-based VoIP would not be possible with an acceptable quality.
  • You’re sitting at a PC with a slow internet connection, or no headset, or you’re not allowed to install software.
  • You just want to use your old-fashioned phone instead being bound to a headset.

Of course, Jajah has some disadvantages, too: You can’t make free PC-to-PC calls* and the sound quality is limited by your ordinary telephone (and phone line). However, during some tests with calls from Luxembourg to Taiwan, we found the quality to be no worse than when *gasp* making a regular phone call.

Unlike many VoIP providers, Jajah uses a “post-paid” system instead of forcing you to pre-pay. Plus, you get 5 minutes for free when you first register your phone number. Currently, you can only pay by credit card and – as we found out – you have to be careful when doing so: if the country you’re located in doesn’t match the country where your credit card has been issued in, your payment will be declined and your account will be locked. Unless you have many phone numbers to register, you’ll have to contact Jajah’s customer support to unlock your account. On the plus side, response time was very fast.

In conclusion, in the time it took you to read this post, you could easily have made your first phone call. Don’t hesitate! Wake up your relatives in another corner of the world now and tell them about Jajah!

*Update Nov. 19, 2006: Since several months, JAJAH allows you to make free phone-to-phone calls under certain conditions.