December 25, 2007

Click SEAlang Firefox add-on

There's a new tool in beta over at sealang.net called Click SEAlang. It's a Firefox add-on that was developed by Roger Sperberg and Doug Cooper. I'm affiliated with SEAlang, but I've only been involved with the development of this tool as far as testing, so I'm just as much a user as anyone. And I think it's quite handy.

The idea is pretty simple. Highlight any word on a webpage and right-click it. Choose the Click SEAlang search option from the context menu. This pops open the Click SEAlang panel on the left side of the browser (or alternately on the bottom of the browser). If it's an English word you've selected, you can do a reverse-search in SEAlang's Thai, Khmer or Lao dictionaries. If you've selected a Thai, Khmer, or Lao word, it can tell by looking at the Unicode which language the word is and will look it up in the appropriate dictionary.

After you've installed the extension, the SEAlang bullseye logo sits in the bottom
corner of your browser window, as you can see the in the screenshot, along with other extensions you might have installed. The Click SEAlang panel opens automatically whenever you highlight and right-click search, but you can also use this icon to manually pop the panel open and closed.

Be sure to set your preferred reverse-search language in the settings. You can find that under the Tools menu in Firefox, and then selecting Add-ons, then clicking the Options button for the Click SEAlang extension. If you're like me, even when you're reading in English, you'll run across a word and say to yourself, "I wonder what the Thai word for that is..."

The answer's a click away.

[More screenshots available here.]

December 19, 2007

On blogs and babies (or, how I learned to overcome my lack of sleep and get back to blogging)

Well, I let the blog go unattended a bit longer than I would've liked. Two weeks! I have a good reason, I promise. 6 pounds, 9 ounces of a good reason:

My wife delivered a baby girl on December 11, 2007 at 1:14 a.m. Her name is Leslie Tida Dockum (เลซลี่ ธิดา ดอกคำ), and she's healthy and hungry and enjoying life as a newborn. While this isn't typical subject matter for Thai 101, hey, I'm a proud first-time papa, so indulge me. My grandfather passed away at 92 three weeks before Leslie was born, and it turned out that after all our struggling to pick a name over the last nine months, his middle name (Leslie) was the one that finally clicked for both of us. And it wasn't even in the running before. Things are funny that way.

On to other news, yesterday saw the welcome return of Jason over at Thai Language Tricks, after a couple months. Welcome back, Jason. Whatever grand scheme he has in store (as intimated in his latest post), I look forward to finding out more about it. If you know of any freely distributable electronic resources for studying Thai, be sure to let him know.

December 5, 2007

Happy Birthday to His Majesty the King

I'm far away from the Grand Palace this morning, but I've just watched the tribute given to His Majesty there on TV. Back in 2002, when I had been in the country for just five months, I sort of accidentally went to the King's traditional birthday-eve speech on December 4th at the Royal Plaza (ลานพระบรมรูปทรงม้า). At that time, seeing the King didn't mean a lot to me. I didn't know who he was, except that I'd seen his pictures everywhere. It was his 75th birthday that year, and the next evening at Sanam Luang (สนามหลวง), I was amazed at the massive number of people who turned out for the celebrations.

The evening of December 5, 2002, is memorable to me for a number of reasons. For one thing, I tried fried insects for the first time, purchased from a street vendor at Sanam Luang (I waited to eat them until I got home, so I could both build up my courage and properly document the event with photographs). Serving as a volunteer missionary at the time, I had ridden my bicycle to the celebrations with another missionary who I was assigned to work with in that area. I spent my first four months in Thailand in the area of Mueang Nonthaburi (เมืองนนทบุรี), and had just moved into an apartment on the Phayathai (พญาไท) side of Samsen (สามเสน) train station a few weeks prior.
In the midst of the masses, I got separated from my companion. My Thai was decent by that point, but I rarely strayed far from home, so I didn't know how to describe where I lived. Not being familiar with the area around Sanam Luang, and not really knowing how to ask directions home, I began to make my way through a veritable ocean of people, nervously backtracking my way to our apartment. Until I could locate some familiar landmarks, the massive pictures of the king and the lights all along Ratchadamnoen (ราชดำเนิน) Road very literally pointed my way home that night.

Personally, I'm not a big fan of pomp and circumstance, or as one might say in Thai, พิธีรีตอง. I imagine the King must be used to it by now, but I'm sure it takes it out of him, at his age. In last night's birthday speech, the King again showed that he is a beacon for the Thai people, and presents a stark contrast from other Thai public figures. He deserves all the love and admiration the Thai people shower upon him. And while it's nice to say you love the King, it's doing one better to show it, by understanding and following the principles he advocates. In this respect there's still a long road to be traveled ahead. Good thing there's a light to show the way.

Happy 80th Birthday to His Majesty the King.