Beijing Olympics on Safari is a nonstarter

The official Beijing Olympics website is great to look at, but sadly, does not work under Safari on the Mac. Here’s what it looks like:

 

Olympics awry on Safari. Click for larger image.
Olympics awry on Safari. Click for larger image.

As opposed to what it should look like when rendered using Firefox on the Mac:

 

Olympics on Firefox. Click for larger image.
Olympics on Firefox. Click for larger image.

It’s not as if Firefox is hugely popular in China either. Firefox 3 has managed only 721,524 downloads as of 2nd July 2008 in a country of more than 150 million internet users

I guess most of them use Internet Explorer?

Next to the UN perhaps the most international forum in the world (and certainly more telegenic) deserves to be as platform and browser agnostic as possible. That the IOC and the Chinese have made a site that isn’t compatible with a major browser that is the default on many Macs is a problem. 

But I guess this particular problem pales into insignificance when juxtaposed with some of the other issues related to China’s exceptional approach to the Internet.

E-Sanvada and Sinhala UNICODE on OS X Leopard

I last blogged about Sinhala script support in OS X Leopard in April this year and didn’t have much hopes of seeing correctly rendered fonts when I checked out E-Sanvada, a (great new) website on developmental issues in Sinhala. I was very surprised to see this:

Perfectly rendered Sinhala. Click for larger image.
Perfectly rendered Sinhala. Click for larger image.

The Sinhala script on E-Sanvada is rendered perfectly. For reference, here’s how the Sinhala Wikipedia renders on my Mac,

Sinhala on Wikipedia. Click for larger image.
Sinhala on Wikipedia. Click for larger image.

And here’s another blog in Sinhala,

Malinda's Blog in Sinhala. Click for larger image.
Malinda's Blog in Sinhala. Click for larger image.

Notice the significant qualitative difference in font rendering. What the devil is E-Sanvada doing right that even Wikipedia isn’t?

Just to note that I do not have Nicholas Shank’s Sinhala font for OS X installed. I do have the University of Colombo’s Sarasavi font and a couple of UNICODE Sinhala fonts on my Mac. If Nokia can do it even on low-end phones, I wonder why no one has come up with a simple, easy way to enable good Sinhala UNICODE rendering on OS X?

UPDATE – 5th August 2008

Malinthe’s comment below points to one explanation as to why the rendering is so good on E-Sanvada. Malinthe’s own site renders perfectly on Safari.

Sinhala font rendering on Malinthe's blog
Sinhala font rendering on Malinthe's blog

Sinhala on OS X Leopard – Still out of luck

Cerno’s post encouraged me to go back to what I had written mid-last year on the lack of Sinhala language UNICODE support on Macs. At the time I was on Tiger, Safari 2 and Firefox 2. Here’s the same page as before on the new browsers:


Click for larger image – Safari 3 on left, FF 3 Beta 5 on right

Clearly, things haven’t improved with Safari 3, Firefox 3 Beta 5 and Leopard.

I’ve download several UNICODE Sinhala font files, including Sarasavi from the University of Colombo Language Technology Research Laboratory. I’ve used their online font conversion.

Yet nothing gets the rendering quite right on Leopard, though what I see is strangely much better than what’s rendered on Cerno’s Mac.
Sinhala Blog Post

Anyway, I still have to Bootcamp it into Vista whenever I have to do any serious work with Sinhala.

Here’s a tip for Windows users – the rather unimaginatively EnSiTip English Sinhala popup dictionary extension for Firefox, which under Windows is really quite brilliant and I found on the LTRL blog.

WARNING: For folks who are so advanced with technology, I would have imagined that LTRL would have had the good sense to optimise images for the web. But no. The LTRL blog has gems like 2Mb+ JPG images which make the page a nightmare to load. Just don’t try it over SLT ADSL on a bad day…

In short, us Mac users are still out of luck. Which is such a pity, since in every other respect, Macs trump Windows hands down (my two year old Dual Core Macbook Pro gave a Windows Vista Experience rating higher than a Core2Duo Sony Vaio bought earlier this year).

Are ICTA / LTRL listening?