Blog / December 2010

  • 29 December 2010The Final Countdown Wulfgar Challenge 2.0

    The end of the (amazing) Christmas 2010 donation run is in sight!

    I know, I know. It did not seem possible for it to end, with truando showing no signs of fatigue, and wulfgar raising a new challenge. But, alas. Time eternal is pressing on, and the New Year is almost upon us.

    December 31, midnight EST time, is the end of wulfgar's challenge 2.0: if we reach 1450 €, he will raise another 50 € to reach 1500 €, ending the Christmas donations with three times as much as truando's original goal!

    As of writing we are a mere 129 € from our final target! Did you ever hesitate about making a donation? Now is a great time to chip in!

    I will update the thread in the next couple days and then see you all in 2011!

    Happy New Year everyone!
  • 24 December 2010Christmas Update!

    Today's update adds the RTK Supplement kanji, fullscreen flashcard reviews, and a new Flashcard Edit dialog on the Study pages.

    Read on for the detailed changes!

    RTK Supplement : 23 new kanji from the RTK Supplement (the "Newly Approved General-Use Kanji") can now be added to the flashcards. As James Heisig explains in the introduction to that supplement, 39 characters were already present in RTK Volume 1, while 134 were also present in RTK Volume 3. This leaves 23 new kids on the block, which are now available on this site.

    Without knowing exactly what the newer RTK editions numbering will be like, I chose to simply add the kanji not previously available to the end of RTK 3 with the frame numbers extended from 3008 to 3030 (thanks NeoGlitch). You can add these one by one from the Study page (see below), or just add the whole range in Manage > Add Custom Selection ("3008-3030").

    A new "RTK Suppl." item will appear in the Check Progress page if any of the kanji in that range are added.

    Please use this thread for feedback on the RTK Supplement kanji. RTK Supplement discussion and PDF link is here.

    Flashcard Options on the Study page : You will now find a flashcard menu in the Study page. The flashcard icon tells you at a glance whether there is already a flashcard for the present character or not. Click the icon to get a list of options: add a flashcard, delete a flashcard, and "fail" the card (put it onto the red pile). Basic information about the flashcard status can also be seen in the dropdown menu.

    This is potentially a better way to work with the flashcards. Just browse in the Study page, and add flashcards one by one for the characters you are studying. After you are done adding a few cards, you can take the "Review new cards" shortcut, also in the flashcard menu. I hope you'll like it. It seems to me on hindsight that this is a more natural way of working than going through the Manage options, it also improves the workflow a bit. Let me know what you think!

    Fullscreen Flashcard Reviews : I thought I would finally make the fullscreen flashcard review mode the default. After all, this website is really a web application. In order to avoid disorientate users, I added an "Exit" button. For the really fearless, try the "Fullscreen" option of your browser as well, for truly distraction free reviews :-) (in Windows it is usually F11, Google Chrome Mac is Cmd-Shift-F, etc).

    You will also find a new "Help" button that lists the available keyboard shortcuts. Did you know you can use the numeric keypad?

    This update was tested to work in Internet Explorer 8. The website makes use of CSS3, some buttons and dialogs will look better in Firefox, Google Chrome, etc. (and hopefully IE9 as well).

    Drama!I have a bad habit of letting my mind linger on projects. Since I work at home the distinction between "work time" and "off time" is not always easy to achieve. I really wanted to put out a little update, and then disconnect as much as I can from the site for the Christmas/NewYear holidays. I really raced to complete this one.

    Donations galore and Wulfgar's Challenge!

    Earlier this month truando kick-started a Christmas donation run. The support you've shown was amazing. I wasn't confident at first that we would gather more than a few hundred euros, but was quickly proved wrong. As we were nearing 700 € another member, wulfgar, raised the bar and his challenge was met in just a couple days. Thank you all for the amazing support!

    As I wrote there I will most likely buy one the newer tablet devices coming out in early 2011. This will be a great motivation to further optimize the website layout for smaller devices. Whether I end up buying an iPad 2 or a Android device, rest assured that most of the work on the layout will benefit both sides.

    Well I was going to write more thoughts about 2011, but I'm running out of time tonight. I'm going to stay with a friend in Brussels for the holiday break. It's good to go back to the capital where I used to live for the past nine years! I'm going to load up on Durüms (kebabs) and otherwise shamelessly play games, read stuff, enjoy the city and take my mind off projects.

    Merry Christmas everyone!

  • 21 December 2010T-Shirts Promotion from our sponsor

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  • 20 December 2010Website update scheduled Friday 24 Dec

    The website will be down around midday CET on next Friday for an update.

    The update will add 23 kanji from the RTK Supplement Newly Approved General-Use Kanji; a way to add and remove flashcards from the Study page; and a few other tweaks.

  • 14 December 2010RevTK is on Chrome Web Store!

    You can now Install RevTK on Google Chrome, thanks to the Chrome Web Store. The website is still an online web app, but Google's Web Store, along with Apple's announced App Store, certainly got me thinking :)

  • 10 December 2010Secret Santa Holiday Discount at JapanesePod101!

    The 2010 Secret Santa Holiday Countdown begins on Monday, December 13th. All Basic and Premium subscription discounts start at a whopping 50% Off on Monday with the discount dropping everyday until Christmas! The earlier you buy, the more you'll save.

    Coupon code XMAS2010 goes live on December 13th and new seasons of our popular language podcasts begin January 3rd, making it the perfect time to upgrade to Basic or Premium!
    Reviewing the Kanji earns a commission for JapanesePod101 sales made through this website. To support us, please make sure to follow through this affiliate link to, thank you!

  • 8 December 2010Javascript Bugs Shall Not Pass

    Hooray! I've just finished configuring a new step in the website build script to check all javascript files with Douglas Crockford's jslint. Then I added a pre-commit hook to the Git repository so that any new javascript files will have to validate before being committed. This will reduce the likelihood of javascript bugs in the future, especially the syntax errors that make Internet Explorer choke, but are ignored in other browsers.
  • 6 December 2010Today's update: fixes for Internet Explorer.

    After much tweaking and twitching... Internet Explorer support is now restored.

    While the site should work in IE6 with today's update, I am no longer supporting it. Future updates will be tested in Internet Explorer 8.


    • Fixed mouseover highlight in the story edit area (which restores story edit functionality).
    • Tweaked stylesheet to show a dark background in the dialogs which use CSS3 properties not recognized by IE6/8.
    • Fixed minor bug with the "Go back" links on the Manage page.
    • Added a X-UA-Compatible meta tag, which may help when IE9 comes out of beta.
    • Clicking anywhere inside a table row on the "Remove Cards > Select from list" page now correctly checks that row for deletion (non IE specific).
    Much of the time was spent getting a proper testing environment, rather than changing the code.

    I must admit it was useful testing in IE as this highlighted problems that give no warning in other browsers/versions. For example the infamous trailing comma error was sufficient to break the review page in IE6.

    I would normally use jslint to detect such problems, but it is not automated so far. I use VIM, but even in Eclipse I never liked the way the automated syntax checking worked. It was just annoying, and slow.

    To solve this, I will add a new step in the website build to run the command line version of jslint on all javascript files.

    I'd like to thank member ivoSF who offered working Windows licenses. I realized I couldn't use them after all, so I ended up "recycling" my old Windows XP license. I figured that it had served me well (from late 2001 to late 2009 !), so I used it to install Windows XP into a virtual machine.

    When IE9 goes out of beta, I will be in trouble again, because it will not work in Windows XP. I will need another virtual machine with Vista or Windows 7. IE9 has a much better support for CSS3 and HTML5 however, so I may not need to test in IE9.

    Here is a great table that shows HTML5 and CSS 3 support accross browsers.

    With the last major update, I started using CSS3 properties like "border radius" and "box shadow". These properties have been widely supported for more than a year in Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari. Thankfully, they are finally going to be supported with IE9.