In memory of Steve Jobs: the language friendly Mac

I grew up in a Mac and Windows household. We had a pizza box Mac and a PC. I can’t remember why – probably a combination of what was used at school and what was needed at work. Now, I use a PC and have an iPod Touch. I was in shock when I learned the sad news that Steve Jobs had passed away. He was a genius and an innovator. He will be missed.

One thing I want to share is Steve Jobs’ 2005 commencement speech at Stanford. It has lessons everyone can learn at any time in his or her life.

In remembering Steve Jobs, I want to celebrate the beauty of the Mac. I distinctly remember always using the Mac to write my French homework because it had the ability to produce letters with accents regardless of the font. I also remember it was not that difficult – something I just had to remember once and it worked on all the vowels. There was no need to go back after the paper was printed to put in accents with a pen. It was already there. I believe it helped with my use of French because I was able to type in French just as I would write in French. There was no disconnect in the mind. Each letter in every word was typed the way I would have written it. And that’s a sign of a good word processing system: when the emphasis can be on the actual words and not how to format the words.

With the latest generation of Apple products, typing in different languages could not be any easier. The little globe button on the side of the iPod Touch keyboard switches between the different international keyboards. I was so happy to see two different types of keyboards for entering traditional Chinese characters.

The first way of entering Chinese is the handwriting characters. More than half the keyboard is an area to write the character with a finger. A column of suggestions appear on the right. The “123” button is used to access numbers and punctuation.

   

The second way of typing Chinese is using 注音符號 (zhu yin fu hao). The initial keyboard is smart: it only shows the characters for the starting sounds. To access the characters for the other sounds and the tone markings, hit the shift (arrow) button. Again, the numbers and punctuation can be accessed by the “123” button. After entering the entire 注音, different character choices appear.

   

The first time I tried these keyboards, I was absolutely elated. The design was elegant and clear. Both keyboards are easy to use. It was so intuitive that the second I started using it, I felt like I had always used it.

Thank you Steve, for introducing us to elegant design and for teaching us to think differently. Your reach extends beyond the physical existence of Apple products. We will continue to be touched by your genius. Rest in peace.

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