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 and others have to make this so difficult.
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 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 while pursuing an interdiciplinary degree focused on Chinese, Classics, and Computer Science with what is now called the Center for Asian Studies at the University of Colorado-Boulder, where you could say I also minored in t'ai-chi and Birkenstocks. :-) A Middlebury Language School summer Chinese immersion left me often actually thinking in the language after nine weeks. Some private study, plus regular real life use in Taiwan and elsewhere, and a Cal State MBA rounded out that education.
"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 in New York and California, and I also spent some time traveling and trading in Taiwan. Then there were several years of US government international trade work, including trade missions to mainland China and other countries, plus a brief chance to play commercial diplomat at the US Embassy in Beijing, followed by management of an Apple software localization and development joint venture in Zhuhai near Macau and Hong Kong.
I then moved on to Silicon Valley startups, but still often found myself abroad. One year I traveled 217 days out of 365, jetting to Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York, London, Glasgow and many places in-between, managing strategic partnerships, OEMs, and other business. But in recent years I've managed to stay put in the famous Chinese city of Cupertino, California, where I've invested in and run one business and started a few myself, successfully two out of three times on average, so I guess I've beaten the statistics. I also volunteer to lead advanced web projects for nonprofits, co-organize a speaker series for language tech professionals, and yes still practice taijiquan.
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.)
Our two children completed a great Mandarin immersion program here in Cupertino, and could probably take over this site if they ever want to be this uncool. Thanks for visiting, and feel free to write with any questions, comments, or suggestions.