Babelcarp news (newest first)

This just in (Jul 8, 2021):
For power users and people who think you can’t have too many browser tabs open: you can now click a button that puts your selection in a new browser tab.

User interface overhaul
The user interface has been improved a lot, I think. First, the Related Entries section has been changed from a variable-height column of links to a dropdown listbox, so the whole page no longer expands and contracts depending on the number of related entries. Second, there’s a new section, Pick a Remembered Chinese Tea Phrase, that lets you go directly to any Babelcarp entry you have already viewed in the current session. Privacy note: the record of where you’ve been is never saved on the server, and in your browser it disappears when your current browsing session ends.

If you think Babelcarp is ten times as fast returning the definition for a typical phrase, you are right! There was a ridiculously slow algorithm involved wherever the definition includes some Chinese characters, which is most definitions, and I fixed it. Thanks go to Jens Dennig for prodding me on this.

RSS feed
A couple of months ago, I decided I had had enough social media craziness, so I stopped using social media. I soon missed a lot of what I had been seeing on Tea Twitter, so I tried to remedy the loss by reading tea blogs. Refreshing tea blogs in a web browser periodically to see if anything is new gets tedious fast, so I rediscovered RSS, which is what I had been using to stay current before I discovered — or enslaved myself to — social media.

(If you are hazy on what RSS is, this is a good introduction. There of course is also a Wikipedia page if you want to get down into the weeds.)

I was complaining as politely as I could to a tea blogger whose blog had no RSS feed when it occurred to me that Babelcarp could produce an RSS feed even though it isn't a blog. So I implemented an RSS feed containing some of the stuff I used to post on Twitter and Mastodon: pointers to new entries that I find notable, as well as selected blasts from the past.

The best way to use an RSS feed these days is to subscribe using either a browser RSS reader extension/plugin or a dedicated RSS reader app. The Lifewire link above is a good place to look, and there is also this article.

Update requests
If you want to request that the Babelcarp database be updated, now you can do so from within the web app. There is now a form allowing you to submit (in Pinyin or Chinese characters) a new term to be defined, or a preëxisting term whose definition you think could be corrected or improved.

Geocoding completed
I finished geocoding all the place names in the database that I could find on the surface of planet Earth: 632 in all as of September 23, 2018. There are others I couldn’t find, so if anyone out there can find one of those, please let me know the coördinates.

Are you feeling lucky?
Yes, it’s that old Google slogan from when “Don’t be evil” still meant something. There’s a new “??” button on the Babelcarp form — if you click it, you will see the definition of a random tea term.

The app’s code has been updated to show a map as part of the definition of a geographic term. See, for example, this entry.

Improving the water you brew tea with
If you have been drinking tea for a while, you probably know that the water you brew tea with has a strong effect on the quality of the beverage. Quite likely then, you are dissatisfied with your local tap water and unhappy about buying mineral water that is transported across great distances. I recently developed a Web application to help you make your own mineral water starting from your local tap water or, failing that, distilled/deionized water. Please try it and let me know what you think.

Babelcarp on Pleco You probably know that Babelcarp can be used to read Chinese text, but the Babelcarp web app knows only tea terms, so submitting a Chinese sentence or paragraph to the web app is frustrating. Probably most westerners with a serious interest in Chinese these days use the Pleco app on an iOS or Android mobile device to read Chinese. Now I have developed a Babelcarp-derived dictionary that works as an add-on to Pleco. That way, you can read Chinese text and see Babelcarp definitions for the tea terms and definitions from other corpuses for everything else. If this interests, you, you can download and install the Babelcarp Pleco dictionary gratis the same way you would obtain any other optional Pleco dictionary: see the Add-Ons menu; from there, you want Available / Dictionaries / All Free Dictionaries. But remember, the Pleco add-on is not updated nearly as often as the web application — it’s the latter that is authoritative.

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