About "Pinyin Joe"
Hi, thanks for visiting! This site started out as a simple page with a couple of screen shots to help out a few friends. I never thought it would become so popular all around the world, but then again I still don't know why Microsoft makes this so hard for us.
I became fanatic about Pinyin input methods when I had the opportunity to market and support the TianMa system for DOS in the mid-eighties. With the best Pinyin phrase-based systems, you can type incredibly fast while the system guesses what you mean with well over 90% accuracy, rising to 100% as it learns from you.
After creating this site, I began receiving e-mail from Chinese readers asking "What do you mean when you say on your home page that you're a waiguoren? You're overseas Chinese, right?" Nope, sorry, I am a 100% large-nosed foreigner. I am a third-generation American, born in New York and currently living in California's Silicon Valley. My grandparents arrived in America from various parts of Europe in the early twentieth century.
I began learning Mandarin in college around 1980 or so, and eventually achieved a professional proficiency that I put to use in industry and government in both the US and China. I first studied the language in the CU Asian Studies Program in Boulder, Colorado, where I concentrated on Chinese and computing (and minored in t'ai-chi and Birkenstocks up in the mountains...). Then there was the Middlebury Language School immersion program, some self-study in Taiwan, and ten years later a Cal State MBA.
"You're learning Chinese? What kind of job will that get you?"
What kind of career did all that lead to? Not that I was thinking that far ahead when this all started, but it did lead to some fun and interesting work, some of which might have even made a difference in the world. My career began at China Books and multilingual software distributor Pacific Rim Connections. Then there were several years of US government international trade work, including a brief chance to play commercial diplomat at the US Embassy in Beijing, followed by management of an Apple Computer software localization and development joint venture in Zhuhai near Macau and Hong Kong.
During the dot-com boom I was jetting to Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, New York, London, Glasgow and everywhere in-between, evangelizing mobile e-mail devices for a startup and then working as vice president of marketing there and elsewhere. Over the last few years I've been based in the famous Chinese city of Cupertino, California, where I've invested in and run one business and started a few new businesses myself, successfully two out of three times so on average I guess I've beaten the statistics. I also volunteer to lead advanced website teams for the Taproot Foundation to help nonprofits, and I organize the IMUG language tech professionals Meetups here in Silicon Valley.
My wife is from Hong Kong and I enjoy correcting her Mandarin when she lets me. <<Ouch, sorry honey.>> OK, actually her Mandarin is great. In fact, when we met in California at an AAMA business event in 1995, the first thing I thought was "Wow, she's got the best Mandarin I've ever heard from a Heung Gong Yahn!" (OK maybe that was the second thing on my mind at the time...or maybe the third thing. OK so I'm a guy gimme a break.)
We have two children, and they are in a great Mandarin-language immersion program. Any day now they will be ready to take over this site. Thanks for visiting!