Posts Tagged ‘software’

File renaming utilities

When working with foreign language (learning) digital media files electronic repositories, typical problems include having to:

  1. adding metadata information to the filename
  2. handling of foreign language characters in filenames across operating and file systems, including code pages

A good file renaming  utility can work wonders in such situations.

I have been using the excellent BRU (Bulk rename utility) for a while, and always liked its flexibility – which is apparent from in its (initially somewhat intimidating) UI:

Now I found to my surprise, and confirmed with the help of the support forum, that the foreign language character support is lacking from BRU’s Regular Expression implementation.

Enter Renamer, another file renaming utility, which features a stable and beta version, pdf documentation and a wiki.

As you can see in the following screenshot, Renamer makes it possible, using Unicode character codes in Regular Expressions, to replace e.g. all Mandarin characters in a filename.

Renamer also has in-built support for common tasks like cleaning up filenames by stripping common tags, transliterating foreign alphabets or adding file numbering (serializing).

Both utilities are free and highly recommended, but also see TBA:part II for limitations.



How to use Bulk Rename’s RegEx matching capability

Much desired, but took me a while to figure that one out:

By default, any filename with a  matched substrings will be replaced by nothing;


What you want to remain, you have to refer to in the replacement with backticks:image

Moodle Metacourses, part III: The support workflow: File-renaming

2011/08/31 2 comments

We discussed file renaming utilities in an earlier post. Here are some more practical tips:

Limitations: While both utilities can accept Windows Search Result sets, drag-drop seems limited to fewer than 256 files at a time (on my Vista 64-bit – but that is not an OS limitation, since MS Expression Encoder can accept a drag-and-drop of all over 3.5k files that need reencoding).

Workaround: both utilities have a folder-select, and Renamer in addition accepts file masks, which can mimic some basic searches:


Bulk Rename Issue: While it allows for “Select from Clipboard” which you can use with the Windows “Copy as Path”/”Send  to Clipboard as Name” feature which works with search result sets. However, I could not get this feature to work (neither with the default “” around the path nor, after removing them manually,  without).

Renamer, Issue: rule, clean up, strip-out-content-of-brackets-does-not-what-it-should:

Renamer-translit-anglicize-foreign-language-diacritics: unfortunately still recommended for technical reasons; Renamer has presets, e.g. German here: TBA

Only one preset can be inserted add a time (overwrites previous) – but you can build your list with copy/paste from/to this text box and persist it to disk to load it later, just like the search rules – an extremely handy feature.

Testing Ribbon Hero 2 as a training resource for MS-Office

“A game fit for playing at work”? I am game!

Easy to tell after a couple of rounds that this constitutes a nice effort, but…

I wish the Excel Ribbon Hero game would remember – after all, Office 2010 still does, thank you! – the Office 2003 keyboard shortcuts, like for Data / Sort.

Or do you really think I needed a hint to sort a table in Excel?

“Right, but is the game called Excel Keyboard Shortcut Hero?”. Oh well, I earned my points via the context menu, that is not a Ribbon feature either, is it?


How to view non-displaying video files on Windows XP, using VideoLan VLC player

Not an uncommon sight when trying to play video files, given that Windows XP is an 11-year old operating system:


It may come as no surprise that Windows XP  -despite a number of upgrades of its built-in Windows Media Player application -, lacks native support for newer video codecs (= what the computer needs to understand the compression of video data, does not map 1-to-1 with video file formats. Video codec support in Windows 7 has been much improved).

If you run into the common problem that, when trying to play a video on your computer, only the audio displays, try downloading, installing and playing the freeware, open-source, cross-platform VideoLan VLC player from here.

If VideoLan cannot display your video either, download, extract, start and open the video with this utility from here , to diagnose which codecs your video files uses, like so:


You may find it easier to pass only this codec information to local IT support than the actual video source file. However, before trying to install missing video codecs from unverified internet sources, make sure to consult local IT support (a lot of malware is distributed with video codec packs). 

Chinese: Character Input: Stroke order: How to learn

2011/02/21 1 comment

Chinese characters are written in a stroke order (which differs for traditional, simplified, and Kanji). This convention is useful for memorizing characters, but also aids handwriting recognition software, and can be used for looking up Chinese characters.

Some free tools that aid in learning stroke order during SLA:

The tool I remember from supporting my first Chinese program a long time ago in Iowa where also Ted Yao’s Integrated Chinese (Cheng & Tsui) was used, is the Bihua project which lets you search by number of strokes, and displays stroke order animation in the results by means of QuickTime videos. Note that links to the corresponding chapters of Integrated Chinese are included in the results:

`bihua-mandarin-stroke-order-integrated-chinese has  animated GIFs to teach the stroke order. is also based on animated gif, but the animation is a bit easier to follow since the current stroke gets highlighted, and you can search for characters.

There is some more animated gif material as overview in wikimedia:


If you teach simplified, this Taiwanese education ministry website will be of no use to you: , but maybe the Hong Kong version for primary education is of use for your students, esp since it is partially in bilingual English:

Practice memorization with Google pinyin IME which allows you to look up characters by strokes:  “This allows you to input Chinese characters not only by using pinyin but also by using strokes if you do not know how a character is pronounced. First, press “u” to enter the stroke mode. Then use “h” for heng, the horizontal stroke, “s” for shu, the vertical stroke, “p” for pie, the left falling stroke, “n” for na, right falling stroke, “z” for zhe, the turning stroke, and “d” for dian, the dot, to input a Chinese character according to its stroke order. Among these strokes, “n” and “d” are the interchangeable. For example, if you want to input , then you press “u” first, and then press “dppn” or “ nppn.” A character often appears before you finish keying in all the strokes. For examples, appears when you key in “udppdps” without the need to input all the strokes.”


Some non-free tools include the  Chinese Character Stroke Order Animator and eStroke (singe license expensive, price comes down to about $35 per seat for a 30 seat site license which may be a good size for a language center)

Animated Gifs and other video-based teaching tools may be a bit to non-interactive, and also too fast (but could be slowed down). Even better would be a pen- or touch-enabled software that allows the learner to practice the stroke, following guiding lines. Unfortunately, pocketChinese which would fit the bill ((on Java enabled phones) seems to not have been updated  in almost 3 years.