Some cantonese, please

I have recently enrolled in a course called Functional Cantoneses for English Speakers I. It’s not a standard university course – it is given during night and costs HK$900 for students. I hesitated at first to pay for a course, but now I wouldn’t regret it for all the money in the world (ok, big exaggeration, but you get the point).

Let me introduce you shortly to Cantonese. It is one of the main languages in China. If you thought China had only one language, you are sadly mistaken and your homework is to read up. Anyway, Cantonese is one of the largest Chinese languages. It is the language you will hear in almost all Hong Kong movies or in Chinese pop music. In Hong Kong and in the area to the north everybody speaks Cantonese, but most people can also speak and understand Mandarin (called “putonghua” by the chinese). Surprisingly few speak English, and that is the main reason why I’ve started study Cantonese. Another reason is my linguistic interest, and the third is just because it’s cool. I will still try to study Mandarin when an appropriate course is given.

Anyway, although I only have the knowledge of one lesson so far, I will give you a very fast introduction. What makes Cantonese different from other languages is that words differs from eachother depending on which tone they are spoken in. In most European languages, the tone is merely used to mark a sentence as a question (rising tone in French, for example) or to convey a feeling from the speaker. In Cantonese (and other Chinese languages) a different tone can mean a completely different word.

To be able to read Cantonese without first having to learn the Chinese writing system we use a romanised system, a system of latin characters describing the sounds. The system we use are from Yale University.

Finally, I will share some useful phrases in cantonese. I use the course homepage to know how to pronounce these phrases, but unfortunately I haven’t found a way to share theses sound clips with you. Even more unfortunate is that you need special characters to write even the romanised version of the phrases. So you have to try your best without them:

Thank you very much – mgoi saai (Tone going down on “m”, high on “goi” and midlevel at “saai”)
You are welcome – msai, mgoi (Tone going down on “m”, going up on “sai” and down at “m” and high at “goi”)
Good morning – jou sahn (Tone going uo on “jou” and down, low level, on “sahn”)

Seems easy enough, eh? I will keep you posted and try to give some sound clips.

My new favorite

To decide which mobile phone I want is a real hassle (I want 3G, WLAN, GPS and PDA-functions, all in one), but when I started searching for a camera, I instantly found what I was looking for. Behold, Ricoh Caplio R3:

Ricoh Caplio R3

It has 7.1X optical zoom, 5 megapixel and it’s very portable (ca 160g including battery). Read more at Ricoh.

The camera is newly released and I have not yet found a price for it nor a review (other than those “reviews” that only read aloud from the product brochure). The only downside would be a lack of manual configuration – it only offers a set of “scenes”. If you know more than me about this camera, or can offer a decent alternative, don’t hesitate to comment.

Games truly

I can’t ever see myself in a life without games! May it be logically challenging games (board games), humorous games (most games), simulations (i.e. computer games, roleplaying games), games where you act or re-enact or just games where you meet new and nice people, I will forever be true to it.

One of my biggest concern of getting abroad was actually not playing games (especially roleplaying games). How would I cope with not game mastering each week, with not constantly having a plot to develop, with not meeting all the gaming friends. To my great luck, I can now report that also Hong Kong can be a home for games – and thus is my mental sanity for the year secured!

A game with aliens

It was when I and my german friend Patrick walked through the atrium, passing all the temporary booths that the different student associations used for promotion, that we by chance stopped at the gaming society. Me and Patrick had already realized that we both enjoyed games, so we quickly took the step and joined the society. This I haven’t regretted once since then. Four hours of gaming each tuesday as well as a lot of very friendly and enthusiastic chinese gamers to socialize with.

Some of the gaming association's games

So far I’m content with just trying out the gaming associations’s big assortment of board games, but sooner or later I must try to gather a session of roleplaying. Even though this could be a complete disaster, with big language problems, different expectations and completely different styles of gaming, it would certainly be worth the try. The dream would be to “discover” a couple of guys or gals down here that see roleplaying in the same way as me – as story telling rather than a game.

I’m not there yet, but I will certainly keep you posted. This can only get better.

Plugins wanted – dead or alive

I will keep this short, partly because I really should be sleeping by now, and partly because I shouldn’t let myself write a novel or two about the things that agitate me (which otherwise easily can happen :) ).

So, what’s the problem? The latest days I’ve surfed around a lot in an effort to find smart and neat plugins for this blog. What I want is the following things:

  • An easy interface to add images and thumbnails to my post . The images are stored at my Flickr account. I would rather not copy long URL:s, write my own image HTML-tags and manually resize images.
  • Show the location for each post – that is where I was when I wrote it. It should be a non-intrusive link or icon that when clicked shows a map of the location.
  • Show the current weather of my last know location as well as local time.
  • Show two times for each post – the time it was written in my local time, and that same time in the readers local time (okey, not a very useful feature, but anyways).
  • A simple filtering possibility for the reader, so a reader can filter the blog according to categories or language. Should be as simpe as possible, and should also remember the choice through a simple cookie.

Sounds simple? Well, for me it’s not. Although extensive searching I haven’t found anything that could do one or more of the things I listed. And on top of that, to really know what other plugins are doing you often have to go through tiresome install processes and some lines of PHP-coding to get it to work.

If you, dear reader, could find anything that would fit my wishes, don’t hesitate to comment here and save me a lot of anguish. Or, if you would write the software for me I would be even more happier 😀 And yes, I know I can write it myself. I have planned to do so. But my motivation for programming is as always low and I rather not re-invent the wheel – or even parts of it.

Acutally, if someone with more l33t Google skillz (or PHP skillz) than me could solve this, I will honor this hero on this site (yeah, great honor) and buy him or her a beer some day.

(Sidenote. When I manage to get a decent image plugin I’ll start posting images here. Until then you can browse my collection so far at .)