mitcho Michael 芳貴 Erlewine

Postdoctoral fellow, McGill Linguistics.


Archive for the ‘link’ Category

Light of Firefox (tomoshibi 灯) from Mozilla Japan

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Here at Mozilla Japan Firefox 3.5 Headquarters,1 we just launched the new and improved Light of Firefox (in Japanese, tomoshibi (灯)) for Firefox 3.5. The Light of Firefox is a real-time, interactive website which shows sparks on a map of Japan for every manual download of the new Firefox from


The name tomoshibi means “torch” in Japanese. As a new Firefox brings new technologies and possibilities to all corners of the web, so too will the tomoshibi light up the night in Japan!

The site was designed and coded by Daisuke Akatsuka of the Keio Kakehi Lab (xlab), the same fine folks who brought you interFORest.

  1. thecountdown-thumb.jpg 

The (Shiretoko) Revolution Begins Now

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

As many of you know, the upcoming Firefox 3.5 was code-named Shiretoko after the [[Shiretoko National Park]] on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido. The Shiretoko Foundation and Mozilla Japan just launched a very cool open-web-powered promotional website, interFORest, together with a very powerful educational site, I just went to and registered for my own virtual tree to be planted on the virtual Shiretoko Park. This tree banner will keep track of traffic through my site to the interFORest site and will grow this tree accordingly over time. You can then go to and see all the trees growing on the park. With your help, we can grow it into a forest!

If you are reading this through a feed reader or planet, click on the permalink to view the banner embedded below:

Place one of these personalized canvas-powered virtual tree banners on your site to spread the word on Firefox 3.5, the Shiretoko Park and Foundation, and the power of open communities. All the cool kids are doing it. ^^

Ten Grand Is Buried There

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

By now many of you have probably seen this new Microsoft Australia campaign, “Ten Grand Is Buried,”1 which calls Firefox “old” and Safari “boring”:


I’m not sure what this is saying about me, but my immediate reaction was to go check whether was available. To my surprise, Microsoft had yet to snatch it up! A few hours later, here’s the result:


Go ahead, visit the site and give it a try!

Note: Not being a marketing guy, I just threw some text together to introduce Firefox. If someone has some better copy for this display, please let me know.

  1. As of this writing, this domain actually has yet to serve anything. 

Matt Mullenweg recommends YARPP on Tekzilla!

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

A new user of my WordPress plugin tipped me off to a recent Tekzilla segment where WordPress founder [[Matt Mullenweg]] recommended Yet Another Related Posts Plugin as one of his personal favorite WordPress plugins. Thanks Matt! ^^

Ubiquity interview in Chinese

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Mitcho on Ubiquity i18n / l10n on YouTube

This past weekend was Mozilla Party JP 10 here in Japan and one of the speakers was Bob Chao (趙柏強) of Creative Commons Taiwan and MozTW. We got to talking in Chinese and he got a video interview of me talking about Ubiquity and our upcoming Parser 2 and the challenges of localization. I’ve never talked about my Mozilla work in Chinese before so it was definitely a challenge and I stumbled a lot, but hopefully some of the ideas got through. :)

前天我參加了Mozilla Party 10,一個日本 Mozilla 社群的會議。我在 Mozilla Party 才認識台灣 Mozilla 社群的趙柏強,我們就開始講國語。因為我自己很想念用中文,所以我非常高興有這個機會跟他談話。以後他拍一端 video,我給台灣的 Mozilla fans 把 Ubiquity 介紹一下。我的中文真的亂七八糟,大家對不起喔。 ^^;

Contribute to Ubiquity! No Coding Required!

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Jono’s recently been thinking about how to get users involved with aside from programming, and he decided to put the textual content of Ubiquity’s builtin commands and the new interactive tutorial on the wiki for all to edit.

Changes made to these wiki pages will be tracked and edits will be moved back into the Ubiquity codebase as early as 0.1.9.

Combined with the imminent internationalization of Ubiquity commands, allowing contributors to localize commands without digging into the JavaScript code, there will soon be lots of different ways for to get involved with the further development of Ubiquity!

Start Panic!

Monday, May 11th, 2009

Just saw this nice demo of the a:visited browser history security issue in action. Visit and click “start” to see it in action.

Picture 2.png

Read about how this security hole works here. Hopefully flashy demos like this will bring more attention to this issue.

Dates in the Month of May that Are of Interest to Linguists

Friday, May 1st, 2009

Happy May! May, as you surely know, is an important season of celebration for linguists. Some of my favorite items are below.

From Dates in the Month of May that Are of Interest to Linguists by the late [[James D. McCawley]]:

May 6, 1939. The University of Chicago trades Leonard Bloomfield to Yale University for two janitors and an undisclosed number of concrete gargoyles.

May 23, 38,471 B.C. God creates language.

May 29, 1962. Angular brackets are discovered. Classes at M.I.T. are dismissed and much Latvian plum brandy is consumed.

May 31, 1951. Chomsky discovers Affix-hopping and is reprimanded by his father for discovering rules on shabas.

Unfortunately May 31, 1951 was a Thursday…

Foxkeh Strikes Again!

Friday, May 1st, 2009

I just wanted to point out that our beloved Foxkeh is featured1 on! He can be found on the Twitter business profile page in the first photo in the gallery:


  1. Okay, maybe “featured” is a strong word… 

Command Chaining with Oni?

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

There are two challenges to implementing so-called command chaining, but only one of them is choosing a linguistically appropriate structural standard and parsing it. The other is the underlying difficulty of processing each individual “clause” in sequence, asynchronously. Alex Fritze blogged about how a project like his own Oni could dramatically simplify this underlying process.

Ubiquity, Oni, and Composability:

but I cannot instruct it to give me list of translated google results:
translate (google foo) to German  // doesn't work
Or email me the resulting list:
email(translate (google foo) to German) // doesn't work
…So how does Oni relate to this? Oni is a browser-based “embedded structured concurrency framework”. It allows you to write asynchronous code as if it was synchronous, adding back the kind-of composibility that is lost when juggling concurrent strands of execution (such as e.g. pending XMLHttpRequests) with ‘conventional’ sequential languages.

The Hit List: Better Software Through Less UI

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

The Hit List is a to-do list app for Mac OS X with a beautiful interface and some nice features. Creator Andy Kim’s latest blog post (Better Software Through Less UI) is excellent reading for the Ubiquity community. He describes the thought process behind the design of a new clean and “frictionless” interface for specifying how tasks are repeated. After throwing out the regular combinations and templates of different input widgets, his solution was to implement a partial natural language input interface:

There is no myriad of buttons and fields to choose from. All the user has to do is directly type in what he wants.

Here are a couple other choice quotes which will ring true for the Ubiquity users and internationalization folks in the audience:

For this to work without driving the user mad, the natural language parser has to be near perfect. The last thing I want is for this to come out smelling like AppleScript.

This design isn’t perfect as it has two glaring problems. One is that the user has no easy way of discovering how complex the recurrence rules can be. This isn’t such a huge problem, but a way to solve this is to include a help button to show example rules or to include an accompanying iCal style UI to let the user setup the recurrence rule in a more typical fashion. I didn’t include these in the initial implementation though because I wanted to see how users would react to this kind of UI.
Another problem is localization. Even if I write parsers for a few more popular languages, it won’t accommodate the rest of the users in the world. Again, the solution is an accompanying traditional UI, but for now, I’m leaving it the way it is until I get some feedback.

There’s a trend in the wind, my friends: the incorporation of near-natural language for more humane interfaces.

Ubiquity in Italian

Monday, March 9th, 2009

flod put up a nice blog post on thinking about Ubiquity in Italian. flod points out that what seems natural to him as a speaker is the use of the imperative form of the verbs, but that some verbs may not translate neatly, even following the overlord verbs proposal:

For example, the verb “make” is quite difficult to translate (too generic): “to make” could be “fare”, but “fare grassetto” (”make bold”) doesn’t make any sense, people would use more specific verbs:

  • make bold -> trasforma in grassetto (sounds like “change to bold”)
  • make page editable -> rendi pagina modificabile

This is a great point. Although the overlord verbs may naturally map into many languages, it may not be perfect for some commands in some languages. Where would English overlord verbs not translate well into your language?

I suggest on flod’s blog that a “synonym” system could be implemented to map single verbs to specific overlord’ed functionality, but these would definitely have to be done on a language-specific basis, unfortunately adding a little work to the localization process.

Ubiquity in Portuguese

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Felipe, a Ubiquity user, put together a wonderful look at what Ubiquity might look like in Portuguese. He has some great points here particularly regarding the “map” verb used in English—Felipe points out that Portuguese does not have a very common “map” verb and that it would be much more common to use enter me dê (literally me give) to use a verb to request a map. This is a great example of how Jono’s overlord verbs proposal may be an important aspect of our i18n efforts. The post is also timely as we’ve recently been discussing in our regular meetings (open to all!) that Portuguese may/could be the focus of our next parser construction efforts.

What would the challenges be for Ubiquity in your language? We’d love to see an increasing number of blog posts on this topic in different languages. Thanks Felipe! ^^

Grand Unified Weekly

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

I just want to take a moment to plug a new podcast find. I’ve been subscribed to Slate V for a while, but they recently started producing a hip new weekly digest of fascinating science stories. The creative choice to put the show together as an edited screencast and use of [[Exposé]] as a transition is genius.

Check out Grand Unified Weekly.


They read PNAS so you don’t have to.

The Mori no Ike Songbook 1996

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

[[Mori no Ike]] veteran and friend Kikai (aka “The Machine”) scanned his copy of the 1996 Mori no Ike songbook distributed to villagers and staff:

Long long ago, in the tiny po-dunk town of Dent, Minnesota, population 156, where a rag-tag bunch of gaijin (guy-jean) lived hippy lives while wearing hapi clothes, spending their summer speaking, living, learning, eating and singing Japanese.

From those years past I now resurrect the sacred song book for anyone who is interested, to share, educate, or practice their Nihongo no Uta’s during what has come to be known as “the off season” for many villagers.

Catalogued and printed over 10 years ago, the 1996 song book for Mori No Ike, the Japanese language village of the Concordia Language Villages, is just as timely today as it was in years past. Hopefully, this online publication will help bring back songs that have dissappeared with the passing of sensei through the ranks, out of the camping life and on to wider and greater adventures.

Talk about kicking it old school. My question: what the heck is トンバイ?