Monday, January 21, 2013

Street intersections in Chinese

Two Chinese characters are commonly used to describe street intersections (路口; lùkǒu) on account of their shapes: 十 (shí; 10) and 丁 (dīng; one meaning is fourth in a series, e.g., company "D" when discussing 4 or more companies). When the character 字 (zì; character) is appended to each, their meanings become cross-shaped and T-shaped, respectively. We thus get:

  • 十字路口 (shízì lùkǒu) A 4-way intersection (the normal American assumption for such being that the streets meet at 90 degree intervals).
  • 丁字路口 (dīngzì lùkǒu) A T-shaped intersection, although in my experience Americans don't necessarily describe them as such, or as a "T intersection" (unlike "4-way intersection", which is common parlance). For directions, it seems more common to say or hear, "Drive down street 1 until it ends, then turn left (or right) on street 2." or possibly "Drive down street 1, which ends in a T. Go left (or right) on street 2."

I've never heard of the character 丫(yā; girl/servant girl) being used to describe forks in the road, even if it seems well suited for such. In truth, the typical fork in the road is more like the shape of a divining rod than the shape of a typical fork. Hmm, I guess sometimes people describe such as a Y-intersection, but fork is more common by far. Of course, the 丫 character, a divining rod, and the capital letter Y are all similar in shape.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Photo Mage app

The (free) Photo Mage app (version 1.0.2) is wonderfully efficient for cookie-cutter, square-shaped editing of screenshots, which happens to be perfect for my occasional chess blogging.

My starting point is a screenshot (Hold down the power button, then press the Home button to save a screenshot to the Photos app) from a chess game in the tChess Pro app:

Within Photo Mage, tap Camera Roll:

Choose the image from the built-in Photos app's Camera Roll album:

Each time, I need to crop out everything except the board, plus the letters and numbers along its edges. The default shape that the Photo Mage app offers is a square (faint white outline in the image below), which only needs the screen moved a bit vertically for proper positioning, after which tap Choose:

Click Save, and the final image is saved into the Camera Roll album of the Photos app:

The final image:

A caption can be added as well, although I wouldn't use such on chessboard images. The portion of caption text ultimately visible is limited to one line, even though more text can be entered.

The projected caption display superimposed on the image is visible as you type:

A caption would be more useful on other types of images:

The native iOS Photos app also allows cropping, but it crashes reproducibly on a tChess Pro screenshot I have saved. It also starts with the more flexible rectangle shape, which is actually a disadvantage for my desired square-shaped final result.