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I’m turning Taiwanese (I really think so)

Having blogged recently on multilingual application development I was intrigued to find that my first experiences in the brave new world of the netbook are tinged with more than just a little internationalisation.I speak of none other than Linpus Linux Lite and its residency upon the Acer Aspire One sat on my desk.
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Written by Adrian Bridgwater on

Having blogged recently on multilingual application development I was intrigued to find that my first experiences in the brave new world of the netbook are tinged with more than just a little internationalisation.

I speak of none other than Linpus Linux Lite and its residency upon the Acer Aspire One sat on my desk. Already the subject of some discussion on ZDNet.co.uk, Linux in any flavour is somewhat new to me having been successfully weaned off of PCs onto a Mac sometime ago now – I know that’s no excuse, but I’m very happy with Leopard thank you.

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Approved Use of Photo by the Taiwanese Tourism Board

Anyway, Linpus Linux… it was created in Taiwan and was specifically designed for Asia as it ships with Unicode support for Chinese and Japanese. It seems to work fine for this particular English speaking user in leafy Surrey too, so one can only assume that it was internationally architected from the core at ground zero level.

So with China getting far more than its fair share of technology news, shouldn’t we pay a little lip service to the Taiwanese tech market? Search for software companies in Taiwan and you might only get Insyde Software, UserJoy Technology and Thin Chen Enterprise.

Not exactly household names are they? Two of those three are in the video games industry – again, it’s not profitable data warehousing or cutting edge cloud computing services is it? So I went off on the trail looking for Taiwanese software supremos and, in the main, I was re-directed to the hardware industry. So it would be rather remiss of me if I failed to mention that, of course, Acer itself originates from Taiwan and the company, according to the web, owns the largest franchised computer retail chain in Taipei.

But it seems that where Taiwanese-tech-talent does exist these days, the diaspora towards Silicon Valley has meant that the country has been left with regional offices of companies started by Taiwanese nationals that have emigrated. Trend Micro chairman and founder Steve Chang being a case in point.

Whatever happened to Taiwanese technology then? These days they make more headlines for their agriculture than their microchips. Shame really.

I did ask around for some opinions on this subject and found one proud Taiwanese IT player in the form of the semiconductor ‘foundry’ TSMC. Their press function gave me the following words, “On the contrary to your statement that Taiwan is no longer famous for technology, this Taiwanese company is at the forefront of many leading edge technologies. The 28nm node will enable the next generation of portable gadgets in terms of both functionality and battery life.”

So there you have it – the next time you want an opinion on high-k metal gate (HKMG) or silicon oxynitride (SiON) materials, you’ll know who to ask right?

I suppose I am forgetting those nifty little PDA phones from Taiwan’s HTC aren’t I? They don’t seem to make as many headlines here as they do in the US where I seem to get offered a trial unit at almost every conference I attend. There’s plenty on these units on ZDNet.co.uk if you care to go looking.

I also spoke to Trend Micro on this topic and – although I admit that I didn’t speak to him in person – they gave me this statement attributed to Steve Chang himself, "Since the company's start twenty years ago in the US and to this day, we have maintained a large pool of talented engineers in central Taipei who are at the heart of our product innovation and development. While we have increasingly become more visible to consumers in the US and across EMEA, we remain a top consumer brand in Japan as well as in Taiwan. In fact our brand presence in Taiwan has been ranked Number 1 in five of the last six years."

Of course if you want to investigate this subject for yourself you may want to just visit CNET’s Taiwanese pages live linked for you here.

As for my first non-Mac experience in some time, Linpus Linux served on Acer Aspire has me pretty well hooked. I’ve got pretty close to touch-typing on the keyboard; and that was my biggest area of concern. The screen quality is as good as any of the reviews have already said it is. Video seems to play really well (although it struggled a bit with Little Britain USA on BBC iPlayer) and I think the on board games are cool.

All I need to do now is try and install my Vodafone USB modem (which absolutely refuses to work on my Mac despite very good tech support) and I may just be able to blog from the train on my way to Heathrow before I catch a flight to Taipei. If only…

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