Sunday, March 12, 2017

Mnemonic for the character for mouse

I recently made this mistake while trying to remember how to write the character for "mouse":

Taking a closer look at it, I thought of a way that I could remember how to write it (my problem being the bottom half) correctly in the future. The four dots in the lower half represent the feet of the mouse, and the long "foot-less" (dot-less) stroke represents the tail. Since Chinese characters are written left-to-right, top-to-bottom, and when drawing a mouse, out of habit I would normally draw the head first, on the left, followed eventually by the tail on the right (that may be a consequence of my being right-handed and not being a very good artist).

The correct character (far more professionally rendered than mine!) is:

During my investigations, I also discovered this was a component of other characters, such as in these "mouse-related" words (詞):

臭鼬鼠 (chòuyòushǔ; skunk)
鼴鼠 (yǎnshǔ; mole)

The excellent Pleco dictionary app (I really should write an updated review for that, it's great) has a host of others for different rodents and more, but it's impossible for me to judge how frequently any given one is used by native speakers. I myself have been using 臭鼬鼠 verbally for years, and saw 鼴鼠 in a children's book, and am confident that native speakers truly use those two in everyday practice (as opposed to, say, only in zoology-specific contexts).

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

CopyTrans for updating apps

For years I've loaded and updated apps on my iPod, currently running iOS 10, mostly using the iOS App Store app, but occasionally using PC iTunes. PC iTunes was often useful when I wanted to restore a version of an app older than the current version in the iOS App Store, which was possible when I had a copy of the .ipa file for the older version of that app.

Recently I had a major crash of my iPod, which apparently seriously jammed up something for the Amazon Kindle app, which I had been attempting to update from 5.4 to 5.5. After that crash, I was not able to finish updating the app on the iPod using the App Store app.

Attempting to do so had rendered my existing version of the app unusable. My initial solution was to use an old .ipa file (a pre-5.4 one was the last I had saved) using the free CopyTrans Windows software, which restored decent functionality (i.e., I could read my books!), even if the app's features were not as good as those in a newer version.

I had expected/hoped that when the next version of the Kindle app came out, I would be notified within the iOS App Store app, and upgrading would be possible. Apparently things were gummed up worse than I thought, since "Updates" notifications of newer versions of the Kindle app didn't even show up within the App Store app. The display was still just stuck on the jammed up 5.5 version.

When I learned that Kindle app version 5.7.1 was available, I tried to update to it, but that, not surprisingly, jammed up my existing older (pre-5.4) version. I deleted that, and tried to load 5.7.1 using the App Store app, but again had no luck.

Finally I remembered(!) that I could download apps within PC iTunes*, something I have rarely done. Unfortunately, the Kindle 5.7.1 app (the ipa file) could not be transferred to my iPod via PC iTunes due to an authorization problem.

CopyTrans to the rescue! From their web site and probably elsewhere on the Internet, you can find out more, but I wanted to give a shout out to this great tool for management of apps on iOS (actually, they have a set of tools, some free and some paid). CopyTrans may be able to help others out with management of iOS apps and data, particularly if you are having problems using iTunes PC/Mac software and/or the iOS App Store app.

Here's hoping that future versions of the Kindle app can once again be straightforwardly updated from my iPod! (3/2017: Nope, not on their own, but upgrading from iOS 10.0.2 to 10.2.1 fixed that problem, allowing me to upgrade to Kindle 5.8 directly from my iPod.)

*Note: According to, starting from iOS 9, it is no longer possible to back up apps from an iOS device to a PC (or presumably to a Mac) using iTunes, nor by using the CopyTrans Apps tool. A laborious solution (if, e.g., you want to keep the .ipa file for an app version) would seem to be to download the app into iTunes, and save a copy of that .ipa file elsewhere.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

iPod 6th generation blackout crashes

Almost a year ago, I bought a 6th generation iPod touch, which has largely been a huge improvement over my previous 4th generation one.

However, it has had maybe half a dozen "blackout crashes" from Sleep mode (screen stays dark), which I had imagined were due to faulty hardware. Although an in-warranty replacement would include the benefit of a new battery and shell, I hoped to keep this unit since I'd had the back personalized by Apple.

When it has plenty of remaining battery power, I've put it into Sleep mode, only to find that it won't turn on (Wake) when I pressed either of the two physical buttons. Up until a few weeks ago, my fix had been to charge it for a long time (e.g., overnight), then hope it turns on (Wakes) later, which did work but was frustrating.

Eventually I searched on the Internet and found the "Force restart iPod touch" solution, which worked for me and is in Apple's downloadable iPod touch (iOS 9.3) manual as well:

"hold down the Sleep/Wake button and the Home button at the same time for at least ten seconds, until the Apple logo appears."

Maybe I'd used this technique for earlier iPods, but if so, I hadn't remembered it.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Sea creatures in Chinese and French

(Mandarin Chinese Pinyin) French
whale 鯨魚 (jīngyú) la baleine
squid 魷魚 (yóuyú) le cal(a)mar
dolphin 海豚 (hǎitún) le dauphin
jellyfish 水母 (shuǐmǔ) la méduse
seahorse 海馬 (hǎimǎ) le hippocampe
shark 鯊魚 (shāyú) le requin
turtle 烏龜 (wūguī) la tortue marine
crab 螃蟹 (pángxiè) le crabe
skate 鰩 (yáo) la raie
octopus 章魚 (zhāngyú) la pieuvre

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Sunday, January 31, 2016

French porcupines and Porky Pig

After listening to my Larousse dictionary app pronounce porcupine in French (porc-épic), I could not help but think of Porky Pig, an American cartoon character.

That link can serve as a mnemonic for remembering the French word for porcupine, if nothing else. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Stir and wind/crank pronounced the same in Chinese

I found it interesting that in Chinese, the verb for a circular motion typically done in the horizontal plane (to stir, e.g., like sugar into coffee; 攪) shares the same pronunciation (jiǎo) as the verb for a circular motion typically done in the vertical plane (to wind/crank, e.g., like a fishing rod; 絞), although the characters differ.