Friday, June 30, 2006

Gmail blocked

It was rumored last January that Gmail and Gtalk would be banned. It is confirmed now. Many of my friends were frustrated.


An official from Bagan Cybertech, the country's only Internet service provider, confirmed that both Google and gmail were inaccessible but declined to comment further.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1692971.cms

I truly hope that they will reconsider this.

Some work-around to bypass

Gmail Lite

Search for keywords "gmail lite links" or anything related to gmail lite and you can find some links to check gmail (which are intended for mobile devices).

http://m.gmail.com

http://gmail.asware.net

http://www.serendipity.org.za/monday/

http://mobile.pocketmatrix.com/gmail/index.html?sid=43e174f60f050f9c9252730f2128dedb

https://laputa.sytes.net:883/gmailer/gmail-lite/

http://www.jimiz.net/gmail/

http://dev.yk55.com/g/glite-mobile/index.html

http://glite.sayni.net

http://mickey.globalogc.org/glite

http://gmobile.phpmagazine.net

Gtalk web based client

http://www.meebo.com

http://67.19.154.173/gtalk/index.html

Proxies

http://www.unipeak.com

Note: For some of you from Burma who are searching for www.bypass.ds4a.com, that web site has been dead for a while. Please don't waste your time.

Maxthon Browser getting popular in China to bypass censorship

http://www.maxthon.com

I don't know how Maxthon Browser works. You need to configure something to bypass the firewall. Enjoy tweaking it. If you figure out how, please let me and others know. Download it form one of the following links:

http://www.majorgeeks.com/download1244.html

http://fileforum.betanews.com/detail/1029407732/2

Mirror 1


Monday, June 26, 2006

MIT education at your finger tips for free

In 1998 when I first went to the States to study, I dreamed that one day open and free online course materials will benefit all the unfortunate kids all over the world who couldn't afford to go to MIT or Harvard. Now MIT has its course materials available online FREE. Take advantage of it and get MIT education at your finger tips. I hope Burma will realize that Internet censorship is a bad thing after all. Open and free flow of information will benefit all people concerned down the road. Enjoy MIT courses here:

http://ocw.mit.edu


Saturday, June 24, 2006

Aw Pi Kye's Wisdom

This joke is for Burmese people only :-) Sorry if you can't read Burmese. I got this from Mg Hla's blog.




Friday, June 23, 2006

69 Burmese women were sold in China

69 Burmese women were sold for as much as 20,000 yuan ($2,500) each in China. According to a report by Reuters, Chinese police in the poor, inland province of Henan have rounded up 69 women from Burma who were sold to farmers unable to find local wives, quoting a Chinese newspaper report.

The women were smuggled into Xincai county from Burma some 4,000 km away, and sold for as much as 20,000 yuan ($2,500) each.

Source: http://in.today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=worldNews&storyID=2006-06-16T155506Z_01_NOOTR_RTRJONC_0_India-255099-1.xml

If you can read Chinese:

http://www.nanfangdaily.com.cn


Sunday, June 18, 2006

ALOHA from the Land of Smiles

June 18, 2006

Sawadee Khrap (in Thai), Min Ga La Bar (in Burmese), How are you (in English :-) ? It was hot and humid outside. The rain is so scanty in Bangkok. It is nothing comparable to Burmese rain forest. The cloudy sky made the weather hotter and more humid. Eighty degrees Fahrenheit plus 85 % relative humidity is something not pleasant to bear.

Nevertheless, it was very nice and cool inside Bangkok Christ Church. Leaving a nice air-conditioned building, Steven, Mar Naw and I went to rent a car at Lumpinee Car Rent Center Co., Ltd. at 167/4 Wireless Road, Bangkok. Steven and Mar Naw were students from Burma, studying at St. Johns University in Bangkok. A tall, thin Stephen with a nice smile, was the best in Thai among us.

After showing us around which car we could have, we needed to sign a rental agreement. Steven showed the office girl his passport. As soon as she saw the passport, she said we needed a Thai citizen's help to rent the car. She didn't say it at first even though she knew that we were foreigners. Only after she saw his Burmese passport, she changed all of a sudden. Maybe they had a double standard for Burmese. Steven called his Thai friend for help. Unfortunately, he was out of town. He couldn't come to help us.

A little bit being upset, we decided to go to another place, Highway Car Rent at 1018/5 Rama 4 Rd. Bangkok. This time, the guy from the car rental didn't say that we needed a Thai citizen. Instead, he took my friends' passport and went back into the office. It was more than half an hour later when he still didn't appear back from the office. We told the front office guy to give us our passports back if we couldn't rent a car. He went into the office, took our passports and give them back to us. Later we found out that the guy from the Highway Car Rent called Steven's family, talked to his father and asked questions like a detective would to investigate a crime. What was our crime? Being Burmese? :-)

Desperate, we decided to go to the car rental place at the airport and it went smoothly there. We were able to rent a four-wheel drive with no problems.

Burmese people have faced all kinds of discriminations and prejudice here in Thailand. However, many migrant workers, who crossed the border illegally, still want to live and work here. They are making more money and they have more freedom here, not being harassed by village authorities in Burma. However, they were still harassed and extorted money by the Thai police occasionally. When being asked by strangers, they are either too afraid to say they are Burmese or they are ashamed to do so. I truly understand why.

I hope our country's human rights situations and economy will improve so people will work in our own country to contribute to the development of beautiful Burma instead of contributing to the development of other countries.

Please remember all migrant workers, both legal and illegal in Thailand, of Burma in your prayers. May God bless you all!

Love in Christ,
Lwin Moe
http://lwinmoe.friendsofburma.org

Renting a car in Bangkok

It was hot and humid outside. The rain is so scanty in Bangkok. It is nothing comparable to Burmese rain forest. The cloudy sky made the weather hotter and more humid. Eighty degrees Fahrenheit plus 85 % relative humidity is something not pleasant to bear.

Nevertheless, it was very nice and cool inside Bangkok Christ Church. Leaving a nice air-conditioned building, Steven, Mar Naw and I went to rent a car at Lumpinee Car Rent Center Co., Ltd. at 167/4 Wireless Road, Bangkok. Steven and Mar Naw were students from Burma, studying at St. Johns University in Bangkok. A tall, thin Stephen with a nice smile, was the best in Thai among us.

After showing us around which car we could have, we needed to sign a rental agreement. Steven showed the office girl his passport. As soon as she saw the passport, she said we needed a Thai citizen's help to rent the car. She didn't say it at first even though she knew that we were foreigners. Only after she saw his Burmese passport, she changed all of a sudden. Maybe they had a double standard for Burmese. Steven called his Thai friend for help. Unfortunately, he was out of town. He couldn't come to help us.

A little bit being upset, we decided to go to another place, Highway Car Rent at 1018/5 Rama 4 Rd. Bangkok. This time, the guy from the car rental didn't say that we needed a Thai citizen. Instead, he took my friends' passport and went back into the office. It was more than half an hour later when he still didn't appear back from the office. We told the front office guy to give us our passports back if we couldn't rent a car. He went into the office, took our passports and give them back to us. Desperate, we decided to go to the car rental place at the airport and it went smoothly there. We were able to rent a four-wheel drive with no problems. Later we found out that the guy from the Highway Car Rent called Steven's family, talked to his father and asked questions like a detective would to investigate a crime. What was our crime? Being Burmese? :-)

Burmese people have faced all kinds of discriminations and prejudice here in Thailand. However, many migrant workers, who crossed the border illegally, still want to live and work here. They are making more money and they have more freedom here, not being harassed by village authorities in Burma. However, they were still harassed and extorted money by the Thai police occasionally. When being asked by strangers, they are either too afraid to say they are Burmese or they are ashamed to do so. I truly understand why.

I hope our country's human rights situations and economy will improve so people will work in our own country to contribute to the development of beautiful Burma instead of contributing to the development of other countries.


Monday, June 12, 2006

Myanmar Unicode Fonts

I think it's time for me to write something about current status of Myanmar Unicode fonts. Recently I have been seeing many people using ZawGyi-One Unicode font on some blogs. So I installed that font on my system. I also had MyaZedi font installed. Yesterday, I installed a new one, MyMyanmar Unicode font. What I found out was that since they used different partial encodings, it messed up my Burmese language display. It's very bad that they all use their own partial encodings, not fully compliant to true Unicode standard.


Padauk is the one and only almost-truly-Unicode-compliant. The only problem with Padauk is they use Graphite rendering engine. You need to install a special build of Graphite-enabled Firefox. Graphite rendering is slow for a very long Burmese page. And if you type in Padauk using Microsoft Word, it won't render correctly. You will also need a special Graphite-enabled word-processors such as OpenOffice.

Myanmar1 from Myanmar Unicode and Natural Language Processing Research Center is also said to be standard compliant. It's not completely done yet, I think. Correct me if I am wrong.

MyMyanmar, according to their web site, can also support true Unicode encoding.

ZawGyi-One and MyaZedi do not follow Unicode standard.

I personally think that the best and most elegant solution is Padauk.

My issue here is not to suggest you what font to use. Just to suggest to think in the long run. If you think your data are important and want it to be future-proof, please do research about the commitments of the developers of the fonts you are going to use. Make sure that it can be easily converted to future true Unicode encoding. The problem with partial encoding is that the future of your data will be at the mercy of the developers of those partial Unicode fonts. If they don't provide you any tools to convert to the new and latest standard, you will have to write your own converters if you are a programmer. If you are not, you are at the mercy of computer programmers.

If you absolutely have to use one of the partially-compliant Unicode fonts, please research their web sites for their committment to the future. Otherwise, it's better just to stick with old ASCII WinMyanmar fonts for now.

My experiences with Myanmar fonts

I have been involved in Burmese-English dictionary project for a while now. The dictionary was typed in Chitwin font, one of the earlier Myanmar fonts. We just had to write our own converter from Chitwin encoding to WinInnwa because Chitwin is too old. No converters for that encoding can be available from anywhere.

From WinInnwa to Unicode is easy because we used Keith Stribley's TECkit converters.

http://thanlwinsoft.org/ThanLwinSoft/MyanmarUnicode/Conversion/TECkit.html

Now that our dictionary data is in Unicode standard encoding, any standard Unicode fonts can display our web site correctly. Padauk can do it using Graphite-enabled firefox. MyMyanmar can do it with regular firefox.

If the Unicode encoding is modified in the future, I assume someone will have to write a converter from old unicode to the new version.

In my personal opinion, it is the safest to go with the standard becaues we are not relying on any fonts, Padauk, MyMyanmar or Myanamr1 per se. Upgrading from the old to new version might be complicated. But somebody definitely has to write the conversion tool. It's inevitable.

Paper and standard specifications on Myanmar Unicode

Representing Myanmar In Unicode, Details and Examples by Martin Hosken and Maung Tun Tun Lwin

Myanmar Unicode Standard


Saturday, June 10, 2006

MyMyanmar Unicode System

http://mymyanmar.net

This Myanamr unicode font is said to be truly unicode compliant.

Here is their font rendering our Burmese-English dictionary site correctly. Our dictionary will be released online soon here:http://www.sealang.net. Right now, we are still doing development work on it. Countless hours of Perl coding!




Thursday, June 08, 2006

China - Children of Blessing

I am right now watching a documentary called "China - Children of Blessing" on Australian TV. The documentary is about Lahu girls attedning urban Chinese schools. It reveals how China assimilates its minorities. Actually, Lahus are not only China's minorities. They also live in Burma.

Today's globalization has caused huge pressure on ethnic minorities to conform. I hope their cultural identity wouldn't be lost.

http://www.journeyman.tv/?lid=19246

The girls work hard determined to make their parents and Miss Peng proud. They sweep the boards in the games and score the highest in the Chinese exams. They should be happy but are they? They were lured into China with the promise of a better life. But over the past year, they've learnt they can only have this on Chinese terms.

http://www.childrenofblessing.com

"We Lahu people need to learn to speak Chinese, and just because we can speak Chinese doesn't mean we'll lose our culture and language," says Muga's Lahu mayor, Li Xinguang. "We need to communicate with the outside world, learn to farm better, and attract more investment."

Burma also needs to do a lot of work to help and educate the ethnic minorities living in Burma.

In the near future, I think I will go live near the border to help these people with their education.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Family Registration in Burma

Burma's military government has told residents in some townships in Rangoon to hang their family photos in their homes and to send copies to local authorities for security checks, according to residents in the capital.
http://www.irrawaddy.org/aviewer.asp?a=5844&z=154


Monday, June 05, 2006

Practical Aspects of Modern Cryptography

http://www.cs.washington.edu/education/courses/csep590/06wi/lectures/



The University of Washington has made "Practical Aspects of Modern Cryptography" course availabe free online. One of these days, our young students in Burma will be able to follow a course from a prestigious university without having to spend a lot of money. My dream would come true one day.