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 Post subject: Review - John Fairbairn's Onomasticon (from GoGoD)
Post #1 Posted: Tue Sep 20, 2011 11:16 am 
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I recently replayed some games from this Chinese collection of games from Honinbo Shusaku. When looking over the player names, I noticed that neither was Shusaku. Somewhat puzzled, I looked for an answer. Now the way I eventually got my answer was through the following procedure:
1) Enter the chinese characters of the name I was looking for
2) Copy paste in google
3) Pray there would be either a sensei's library (I usually add sensei after the chinese characters) or wikipedia link.

Eventually I found out that the name I had been looking for (安田栄斋) was Yasuda Eisai, which was how Shusaku was known when he took the surname of his father's family. I found this information in a Sensei's Library comment (not surprisingly from John Fairbairn), but it would have been much easier to just use the GoGoD Onomasticon. The best explanation of what the Onomasticon is and does, can be found here: I've taken the liberty to quote some parts for reading continuity:
GoGoD Website wrote:
The Onomasticon is more than just a Names Dictionary.

The main item is, however, John Fairbairn's Go Names Dictionary, or Onomasticon, was first published in hard copy form in December 1999 after 30 years work in compiling it. It is currently out of print and will stay that way, because the GoGoD CD now contains a bigger and better version.

The names section alone has over 3,000 entries. Potted biographies are provided in English for all entries, usually brief (birth/death dates, origins, affiliations, promotions, teachers, family relationships, variant spellings) but often much longer. Both modern and historical players are extensively covered, male and female. There are over 1300 Japanese players, over 400 Chinese and about 200 Korean. Other entries cover about go patrons, reporters or other personalities, and there are about 600 cross references (nicknames, etc).

Specially for the CD an electronic look-up program has been added to enable you to read the names of Japanese, Chinese and Korean players. Even people unfamiliar with characters can now look up names quickly and easily. Most characters can be found with just two mouse clicks, in old characters, modern simplified characters, kana and hangul.

The diagrams show the Japanese kanji and kana pages. In the first case, above, a search on the single character in the top left has come up with a long list of people (Japanese, Korean and Chinese) who have that character somewhere in their name. The list is in the top white box. Clicking on any entry there brings up the full entry in the lower box.

You can, of course, search in English, too.
There, under HONINBO SHUSAKU [Hon'inbou Shuusaku], one can find all his known names. In fact, As I've found when searching for dozens of other names, there's often no SL or wikipedia entry for a player, while there is one in this Onomasticon. My prefered method of looking up readings for unknown players has now become:
1) Launch the onomasticon
2) Enter the name in chinese characters through multi-radical kanji lookup.
3) Be assured that the info will be here, even when Google, SL and Wikipedia can't seem to help me.

The contents of this piece of software are spectacular. Though we are specifically reminded that the Onomasticon is "more than just a names dictionary", it does perform this function really, really well. Good dictionaries are hard to come by, and when you encounter one, you should be prepared to pay for that quality too. I would be willing to spend the entire cost of the GoGoD cd on just the onomasticon.

So both price and contents are top-notch, so what else is there? Form, which in this case means the user interface. There's some room for improvement here. For example, I haven't yet found a way to copy the characters displayed in the results as plain text, so you can easily include them in, say an L19 post. You can export them as a bitmap image, but I can't figure out when I'd prefer that option over text. I had to reconstruct the correct characters in my word processor to include them in this post. That's a bit of an unecessary workaround. It does seem like pretty basic functionality for a digital dictionary. This missing feature was little more than inconvenient, however, and it's not really that big of a deal.
The only real problem I have with the software is that (at least on my system, a windows vista machine) there is a rather annoying display bug when using multi-radical kanji lookup. Part of the radicals and search results seem to be cut off. I've taken a screenshot to demonstrate the problem.


Running the program in any of the available compatibility modes doesn't seem to solve the problem. It is however, really just a display bug, as the missing radicals can still be pressed, so that with some patience you can still find all the characters you are looking for. It would be nice if this could get patched for future versions of GoGoD.

All in all, the Onomasticon is an invaluable tool if you're studying Chinese or Japanese texts or game records. The price and contents of the onomasticon are second to none, though there is some room for improvement in the user interface, namely the ability to export characters as text and a fix for the display bug in multi-radical kanji lookup.

 Post subject: Re: Review - John Fairbairn's Onomasticon (from GoGoD)
Post #2 Posted: Tue Sep 20, 2011 11:45 am 

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All in all, the Onomasticon is an invaluable tool if you're studying Chinese or Japanese texts or game records. The price and contents of the onomasticon are second to none, though there is some room for improvement in the user interface, namely the ability to export characters as text and a fix for the display bug in multi-radical kanji lookup.

Although it is very kind of you to notice this feature and to add some equally kind words of praise, it is slightly unfortunate in that it is soon to be out of date: a new Onomasticon program is currently being tested and should appear in the Christmas issue of the GoGoD CD.

It does rather more, or does it what does more prettily or faster, than the old program. The biographical data is the same (except for being constantly updated), but the new program is able to make use of Unicode fonts, and so there are improvements such as much larger font sizes and it is possible now to toggle between traditional and simplified versions of characters. The character finding process (using elements as shown above) is the same in essence but has been much improved to become more 'forgiving', i.e. if you think an element in your character looks like but is not exactly the same as in the table, you will probably now find that the programs believes you. There are now faster ways round the table, and I've turned on a feature I use a lot - click on a character and get info about pronunciations and also page reference in dictionaries like Nelson and Morohashi.

There is also a new and prettier version of GoLibrary on the way. I have a working version but T Mark has not tested it yet - roll on Friday. This really is something new rather than an upgrade as it does much, much more and is about 15 times faster (usually almost instant now). I can now do quickly things like find every game where Go Seigen was White in a no-komi game and get how many he won and lost. Nothing very special about that; it just happens to be something I tried earlier on as part of the testing, and it is something that would have been very tedious with the old version. I could also have refined the results down to a date range, or number of moves range, and to certain venues or to players of certain ranks, but even I can sense this is a little de trop.

The reason for this sudden burst of programming activity is simply that I have stopped compiling go books while the book market is in the doldrums. I might even be forced to return soon to the Korean for Baduk Players program (a sort of machine translation program rather than a standard course in Korean).

Incidentally, T Mark is still murdering his mouse and the games database on the Christmas CD should burst through the 70,000 barrier, which is rather significant if you are on the mind-numbing side of it as we are.

PS The display bug is known and seems limited to certain machines. Our best guess is a video card with too little memory (all the fonts on the old program were created as bitmaps). Machines that had this problem don't have it with the new program. Found characters can now also be freely exported to other programs (or imported, of course).

This post by John Fairbairn was liked by 2 people: ez4u, Hushfield
 Post subject: Re: Review - John Fairbairn's Onomasticon (from GoGoD)
Post #3 Posted: Tue Sep 20, 2011 12:01 pm 
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To add a little to John's post, I actually have exactly the same problem on my desktop with displaying thje characters, but not on my laptop, which is several years younger. As John said I am testing the new version of the Dictionary and I am finding it a lot easier, especially the larger fonts (and a trick to double the size in display boxes, for the most tricky names).

Best wishes.

No aji, keshi, kifu or kikashi has been harmed in the compiling of this post.

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