Back to landlubbery
So, back to geekery after too many months away. While we were in Thailand, I met Theppitak Karoonboonyanan and his friend Neutron Soutmun and a couple of others from the Thai Linux community. Thep is in the NM process for Debian, he maintains Thai support packages in Debian and Neutron is a Debian user. Neutron writes firmware for GPS receivers (IIRC) and other GIS stuff, I'm hoping he will get involved in the debian-gis subproject. I think I convinced Neutron to at least think about applying to NM :D. We talked about a lot of things, mainly about Thai localisation and the challenges involved. He mentioned that the language barrier is a big problem for Thai people, so their main focus has been firstly infrastructure (text rendering, layout and wrapping, fonts, input methods, locale, etc) and now translation (and the associated, laborious localisation efforts). He told me a bit about the writing system and how it is related to other systems in the area. Thep also mentioned the possibility of debconf9 being in Thailand, I recon it would be bloody awesome to have debconf in Asia. At least one other Debian Developer is interested in this, madduck is the initial instigator. I hope we both make it to debconf in the UK this year. I also visited the open source lab at NECTEC (the Thai National Electronics and Computer Technology Center), which is government funded. There, they develop LinuxTLE (an Ubuntu based desktop distro), LinuxSIS (a simple internet server for schools and businesses) and do lots of translation and advocacy work within NECTEC and with businesses and other organisations within Thailand. One thing about LinuxPLE which I noted was that during the post-install GUI configuration step, there is an option to setup the system to use fonts from a mounted Windows partition. IIRC, they explained that they found this was important because of a reliance on Microsoft fonts in Thailand. While I was there, I went to a couple of other labs and saw a demo of a cool Thai OCR and car registration plate recognition system, English to Thai machine translation (text) and direct English speech to Thai speech conversion. They were also working on some medical imaging and speech recognition stuff that I didn't get to see. I also met the founder of linux.thai.net, whose company develops this online map for Bangkok..
Also posted some photos from our trip through Thailand.