Fingerpainting Kanji in OS X


I was a little underwhelmed by Apple’s two recent offerings. The Touch didn’t get a camera and the price drop has yet to convince me to buy one. Maybe in the New Year.

Then there was Snow Leopard. Anything new and exciting here? Anything new for Japanese learners?

Not really. There’s a few new fonts (nothing too exciting) and there’s a port of the input method for Chinese from the Touch. That was enough to get me to buy a copy. It was cheap at any rate.

But like quite a number of people our MacBooks aren’t current enough to use this input. It’s only enabled if you have a multi-touch trackpad.

Even then it’s Chinese. No kana recognition so if you want to write a sentence you’ll be switching in and out of it. There’s also the possibility that a few native Japanese kanji won’t be recognised, although I’ve yet to test this on my visits to the Apple Store.
It is an improvement over the Touch version. The input area is bigger and your finger doesn’t obscure what you are writing. But I still had problems once the stroke number got high.

I understand why Apple didn’t want a stylus on the iPhone but the party line of fingers are better for everything is bull. good for pointing and clicking and manipulating maybe but not for writing. Pens give more fine control. There’s a reason we don’t fingerpaint letters or use crayons. We like to have characters under 10mm square rather than the 40 or 50 mm needed with my fingers; or over 100 mm with complex characters.

So the Chinese input is a bit disappointing. I haven’t tried a tablet yet but I don’t really expect it to work. there’s no good reason why a tablet or a normal trackpad shouldn’t work, except Apple doesn’t want it to. (although mice and trackpads don’t have absolute co-ordinates it’s a bit hard to write with them) Maybe someone will hack it or come up with an application that can make use of the data to expand the available methods of input.

I would have preferred Decuma or its successor. Maybe the tablet if it exists will be a better experience. Maybe typing is quicker and more accurate.

I’m sticking to DS for learning to write kanji on the move.

The image used on this post is adapted from an image on Flickr
Thanks to Nancy on Flickr for allowing her images to be used and adapted.
The orginal image.
License information

16. September 2009 by ロバート
Categories: 03 writing • 書く事 | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Fingerpainting Kanji in OS X