Retirement Postponed

Steven J. Searle

Web Master, TRON Web

This was supposed to be my last opinion piece. I had already suggested to Prof. Sakamura that I should move onto something else, something more in line with my university training, which is to say something involving linguistics on top of BTRON, and he had agreed. That, after all, is why I got involved in the TRON Project way back in 1988. Prof. Sakamura was the first computer scientist to propose an open, multilingual character set for processing the languages of the world, and I, being a linguist, thought it would be worthwhile to be involved in this work. Unfortunately, that turned out to be the year that the Office of the United States Trade Representative chose to attack the TRON Project at the request of U.S. industry, and I soon found myself doing damage control work rather than creating linguistic resources on top of BTRON. In recent years, though, the project has turned around, and, since the T-Engine Forum has a huge budget and can afford to hire its own news writers, I thought, now at long last I can return to linguistics on top of BTRON.

Alas, my long planned retirement must be postponed. At TRON SHOW 2005, I got a chance to meet some of my readers, and they were upset at that idea that I was planning to turn TRON Web into an archive. They are desperate for more information on T-Engine, and although TRON Web is not really a developers' site, it is the first one that pops up when you do a keyword search for "T-Engine programming" on Google. Prof. Sakamura was a little surprised when I told him this, but a lot of people seem to have linked to TRON Web's technical documents section. At present, there are only four technical translations of articles that appeared in TRONWARE on the Web site, but they cover the basics of T-Engine programming, and thus they are very important. Some Indian programmers I met at TRON SHOW 2005 actually thanked me for translating them, saying they are very good for beginners. The reason I translated them is because I received an e-mail from Indonesia asking for such information, so writing to the Web master does lead to favorable results.

Since there is a pressing need for more technical information on T-Engine and T-Engine programming, I am going to spend the remainder of the year translating as much technical information as possible, while doing my best to update the TRON news and opinions sections of TRON Web. If all goes well, there should be in excess of 100 pages of technical information on line before TRON SHOW 2006 begins. Please keep in mind that TRON Web operates on a shoestring budget--basically my salary and the monthly charge for an Internet connection--and that it has a staff of only one guy working half time. Considering what a low cost operation it is, it has certainly produced results beyond expectation. TRON Web provides its readers with a complete overview of the TRON Project and the TRON Architecture; in particular, it's the best source of English language information about the BTRON subarchitecture. All in all, it probably wouldn't be an exaggeration to call TRON Web one of the most cost effective undertakings in the history of the TRON Project.

There are a couple of things that you, my readers, can do to help yourselves. One thing I have mentioned on a couple of occasions to visiting foreign professors is that they should lobby their university officials to set up within their universities a Japanese language technical translator program. Such a program would combine survey courses that teach the basics of various technological fields--the students, of course, would not have to master the technologies and become engineers--and practical Japanese language training. After a couple of years of learning the basics of science and technology and doing guided readings in technology, they would be able to begin translating technical materials from Japanese into whatever language is their native language. Such a program would also be beneficial for engineering students who wish to go off on their own and read Japanese technical documentation. In short, let's start knocking down the language barrier at both ends. That way the flow of information from the T-Engine Forum to the rest of the world will accelerate.

The Japanese government would probably help poorer countries set up such a program in selected universities. It is their job to spread Japanese language and culture, which is not to mention technology, overseas. Obviously, the more people who know Japanese overseas, the easier it is for Japan to communicate with the rest of the world. And communication is the second thing that you, my readers, can do to help yourselves. During TRON SHOW 2005, I met a participant who had a long list of suggestions to improve the course of the T-Engine project. He told them to me because he felt he couldn't approach Prof. Sakamura, and I later passed those suggestions along to the Project Leader in written form. However, you also can do this. Write down your ideas and pass them to Prof. Sakamura when he is on one of his overseas trips. TRON Web, for example, began as a suggestion on my part, and since no one at the time was doing an English language Web site on the TRON Project, he agreed. By communicating with each other, we will make the T-Engine project a success.