Firefox – The Japanese learners browser.

The browser of choice for learners of Japanese has to be Firefox. Maybe because it’s logo is inspired by Godzilla! I resisted it for a long while because I quite liked Omniweb. Since Omniweb stopped development was in a period of slow development/on the back burner and caused my system to go to a crawl I looked at Firefox again. The only complaint I have is Firefox doesn’t support the Mac systemwide contextual menu.

The enormous plus of Firefox is the add-ons.

Rikaichan
The most popular for Japanese learners is probably Rikaichan. This took the feature available at Rikai.com of inserting pop-up translations of words and freed it of Rikai.com. Hence the name. It makes reading Japanese webpages easier or even text files by inserting this modern English pop-up furigana. The only drawback is it can make you lazy and be a bit of a crutch.

Furigana-Injector
For those more adventurous (or studious) Furigana-injector provides help without using pop-ups or English. It inserts furigana into Japanese pages. Making it much easier to read kanji. You can also set it only to inject furigana when you want it on a page. As you learn kanji readings you can add your known kanji to a list so only unknown kanji will have furigana. Very clever.
My only worry is that it might get the readings wrong, but I’d guess this would be rare.
On mixi it changes this

mixi-nofg.jpg

into this

mixi-fg.jpg

Ruby support
To make Furiganainject work you will need HTML Ruby or HTML Ruby Support. My preference is HTMLRuby. It is simple and seems to render ruby consistently. HTML Ruby Support allows much more customisation but for me it sometimes disrupted the rendering of a page.

AdBlock Plus
Using AdBlock Plus and AdBlock Plus: Element Hiding Helper means I can kill ads but more importantly cleanup some of the more annoying aspects on my favorite sites and BBSes in an out-of-sight out-of-mind sort of way. I can kill the huge pictures some people like as signatures on BBSes. I can transform JapanesePod101 from this

jpod101ads.jpg

to this

jpod101filtered.jpg

and keep my sanity in the face of ads about Jpods features I’m already aware of. (I love these guys but they should really look at usability studies)

Characterizer
More esoteric add-ons are were Characterizer. This replaces the first letter of an English word with a Kanji. I believe the original idea was by the author of The Kanji Handbook. (Although this now seems to have disappeared from the add-ons repository. June 2010)
It’s interesting but I prefer straightforward Japanese myself.

Do you have any recommendations for Firefox and Japanese?

14. August 2009 by ロバート
Categories: 02 reading • 読む事 | Tags: , | 4 comments

Comments (4)

  1. Yeah, I have to agree with you on a few fronts:

    1) I like Firefox’s plugin capability more andmore. I started using Rikaichan recently, ironically after hearing about it from JPod.

    2) JPod’s website is getting worse, not better. I have a high tolerance, so I hadn’t thought to block it though. Might be worth a try. :)

    3) The furigana injector looks cool. I will definitely try that one.

    Where’d you get a Mixi account? Can you invite me too?

  2. Hi Doug,

    I got a mixi account via jPod. A voice actor who is no longer there, Yoshi-san was inviting people in. It was probably Vicky-chan who gave me an invite. (Another regular in the early days of jPod)
    I can give you an invite but it might be hard to activate
    http://www.shiawase.co.uk/2008/05/19/mixi_isolationism/
    You may need help from your in-lawas in the form of a Japanese email account.
    Drop me an email for where I should send it.

  3. Since Omniweb stopped development…

    Just thought I’d point out that OmniWeb is still under development; in fact, there have been several new OmniWeb 5.10 “sneaky peek” builds posted in the last few days. (They’re also much faster.)

  4. I stand corrected ごめん
    For a long time there around when OmniWeb went free (I liked OmniWeb enough to pay for it in the face of free browsers) it seemed it was very much in hiatus.
    I’m glad it’s getting some time from the developers at Omni again. As a business decision it must be hard. The competition in browsers must be fierce and I’ve no idea where you can make money developing one any more.
    Unfortunately moving browsers is a wrench at the best of times. Bookmarks, passwords, cookies with prefs, general look and feel (getting used to the things that bug you) and interface. It’s as bad as upgrading your system software.
    So while I’ll look at OmniWeb again (It’s still in my Dock) I doubt I’ll “live” there anymore; the add-ons in Firefox and how they help my Japanese are the clincher.
    (PS. Interesting that someone at Omnigroup found and read my musings! )

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