Thursday 23 January 2003

I couldn’t believe how easy it was

Took the scenic route on the way home from the pool this afternoon to drop by the nearest Apple store. At first the saleswoman told me I couldn’t try out the Japanese language support in OS X because it would mean reinstalling the operating system. I’d anticipated this response but I gently persisted and, within a matter of minutes, we’d checked Japanese in the International control panel (are they still called control panels?), logged out and logged back in, figured out how to switch on the Input Method, and I was typing Japanese in Microsoft Word. By then she was so enthusiastic that I only had to say “Unicode Character Palette” and she’d found it in a trice.

Smart, curious people are a pleasure to be with, aren’t they? Her initial reluctance didn’t trouble me at all, since it was so obviously based on a perceptive and accurate intuition that I was just another tire kicker with no real intention of buying a Macintosh. What had a greater impact was the ease with which her resistance gave way to a strong desire to find the answer to my question. Although I didn’t mention this to her, I had already decided that, in the unlikely event I do buy a 12-inch PowerBook, I would buy it from the first salesperson who took the trouble to show me how to activate Japanese language support in OS X. So at least that’s one less decision I have to make.

<update>Kevin Marks graciously offered to make screenshots of the OS X Japanese fonts. So I fired up my Japanese email client, Becky, and sent him my test Kanji string (the Macintosh mail application is fully multilingual). Included with OS X are four Japanese fonts: Hiragino Kaku Gothic Pro, Hiragino Kaku Gothic Std, Hiragino Maru Gothic Pro, and Hiragino Mincho Pro, plus Osaka (the Japanese system font used for menus and dialog boxes). In addition to identifying each font, the complete screenshot shows Apple’s secret weapon in the font wars.

Macintosh TrueType Japanese fonts

I didn’t mention how gorgeous Japanese text looks on the Macintosh, compared with Windows. Kevin alluded to that when he wrote in his email:

By the way, I turned off the LCD-specific anti-aliasing for that screenshot- it actually looks better than that on my iBook because of the extra res it gets from the LCD sub-pixels.

Although the WinXP display is almost certainly superior to what I get with Win2K, compared to their Macintosh equivalents the actual Windows Japanese fonts are mediocre—or, to put it a different way, adequate but hardly inspiring (like much of what comes from Microsoft).</update>

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You only need to log out and in if you want to switch the UI of the Finder to Japanese. (Force-relaunching it will do this too). Other apps will switch on next launch.

You can enable Japanese (or other language) text entry in the Input Menu Tab of the International System Preferences, which will show the menu in running apps too.

Multi-lingual text display is on by default.

Did you get the OS X font sample I sent OK?

Posted by Kevin Marks on 24 January 2003 (Comment Permalink)

Ah, the seduction is well underway.

It's only a matter of time at this point....

Posted by ralph on 24 January 2003 (Comment Permalink)

I find your site more readable upon clicking the new sans button.

Have a good long weekend.

Posted by Jason on 24 January 2003 (Comment Permalink)

Thanks, Kevin, I've updated the post to include the Macintosh font samples.

"Only a matter of time," you say, Ralph. This could be the basis of an interesting competition: guess when JD buys a PowerBook.

Glad you like the sans serif font, Jason. You have a good long weekend too.

Posted by Jonathon on 24 January 2003 (Comment Permalink)

Hey, Jonathon, Happy Birthday©!

You’re a treat to count as friend, and I hope that someday we’brought to the same place at the same time. . . .

Posted by AKMAdamtheSudsyChaplainoftheUniversityofBlogaria on 25 January 2003 (Comment Permalink)

Thank you, AKMA. As it happens, we may be getting together sooner than you thought.

Posted by Jonathon on 25 January 2003 (Comment Permalink)

This discussion is now closed. My thanks to everyone who contributed.

© Copyright 2007 Jonathon Delacour