IT46 Blog

May 8, 2009 01:00

Contextual information in software localization

Contextual information in software localization

podebug for Firefox in Swahili

As you know I am supporting the Tanzanian Linux User Group (tzLUG) in their effort to localize Firefox 3.5. One of the challenges that the team faces is to have enough contextual information to properly translate the application. It is difficult to translate something that you have never used before, functionalities that the translation team is not familiar with or English words that can be understood in several ways... For example, the word "archive" could be a verb (to archive) or a noun (as in an -archive- of pictures). In Swahili the world will have to be translated differently if it is a verb (jalidi) or a noun (jalada). Without the contextual information, translations are normally of bad quality.

Having contextual information is needed to have good localizations, the challenge is not only to master the language but also to understand what exactly is being localized. A few years ago, while localizing OpenOffice.org to Swahili, we decided that it was good idea to add tags to the strings, so when the software was built we could backtrace bad translations. The concept is very simple, localize the software, build it and if a localized string does not make any sense when testing the software, use the tag to find the file where to change the translation.

If you like the idea, have a look to the The Translate Toolkit and podebug.

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May 1, 2008 19:07

Second visit to Tegucigalpa

Second visit to Tegucigalpa

A319 and Tegus

It has been almost year since my last visit to Honduras and UNAH. During this visit we have been working in the migration of Zimbra to a new server and the implementation of new information services. For those that are looking for an integrated solution (mail, webmail, antispam, calendar, messengering, etc.) with all the power of softwares like postfix, openldap, mysql, clamav etc. check Zimbra! The architecture is clean and easy to troubleshoot, community forums are extremely useful and runs smoothly in Debian 4.0 :)

During this visit I got to know San Pedro Sula and Ceiba, we visited the two regional centres there and implemented a couple of point-to-point radio links. It has been a very intensive productive visit. I got to know the differences between the South and North of the country and the huge social differences between those who life the 'american way" and those who 'does not'. One highlight of the visit was a quick visit to a lonely beach in a town known as Tela. I like that part of Honduras that still keeps a soul and has not surrendered to the just-another-big-shopping-mall full of tasteless fast food.

But if there is something that makes visiting Honduras an experience is landing in Tocontín... yes, this time we recorded the landing from the run away. Here, it is the video [Aterrizaje en Tocontín] o debería decir en Ton Con Teen

:-)

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February 9, 2008 09:49

Kenya: Testimony of Chris Albin-Lackey on Behalf of Human Rights Watch

As you may know IT46 is working in Kenya in the design of a SMS communication gateway to enable an information system for farmers in rural areas. During the last weeks, we have been following closely the political developments in Kenya via radio and satellite television. This article from Chris Albin-Lackey (Human Rights Watch) is a good summary what is going on at the moment.

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July 23, 2007 21:31

TRICALCAR workshop, Andes Region

TRICALCAR workshop, Andes Region

Radio tower in Huaral

It has been a very long and intensive week. During the 16-21 of July, it took place the first of a set of community wireless trainings in Latin America. I must say that the training was very different from other trainings i have been involved before as the group of participants had strong community connections and it was interesting to learn from their projects and challenges (mostly capacity building and sustainability). No surprises! Although the training was mostly technical the other non-technical components as outcome mapping, ICTs and gender and planning of the wireless network tried to provide a necessary balance of what it takes to make a wireless community project a success. Fine tuning and balancing the technical and non-technical aspects is definitely worth pursuing.

The wireless training also included a VoIP session. Although I have been working for a while now in community wireless networks, I have a strong feeling that in order to see more initiatives we need to focus more and more on capacity building and the development of sustainable business models. My regards to all participants and looking forward to see knowledge put into action.

The official picture of the workshop is available here

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July 1, 2007 14:44

Booking a flight to Nigeria

Booking a flight to Nigeria
We are preparing for another trip to Nigeria to work on a Electricity Backup System for Fantsuam Foundation in rural Nigeria. As usual, we do the bookings online, except for the hotel reservation in Kafanchan that requires local assistance since no fix telephony exist (hence no fax), the hotel lacks Internet connection and the GSM network is highly unreliable.

Anyway, I look for a suitable flight to Abuja, that is the capital of Nigeria, with my favorite booking site, Travelpartner. Instead of a list of available flights, the following text is displayed to me:

"Unfortunately, we can not book tickets to Nigeria on the Internet, please contact our support center."

Although this is my second trip of Nigeria, I get a bit surprised. Last time I book the ticket, I was only restricted to pay via bank transfer as no credit cards were allowed for Nigerian destinations. This time, not even that is possible! What's next? I need to charter my own plane to Nigeria, or?

Note that the URL in the snapshot includes the tag "blocked country" (click on the image for higher resolution). Wonder who else are included in that list of countries?

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June 17, 2007 16:42

Life and the elements

Life and the elements

Trees and power lines...

I have been working intensively in Tegucigalpa in a radio link with the University. After four days of training and hard work the link was up and running. The radio link runs between the University Campus at the Faculty of Medical Sciences. All was looking great, the link was running stable with a steady 3 Mbps (useful) bandwidth. It was lots of fun to work at University and the Hondurans have a great sense of humor when it comes to life. We joked a lot about the weather and what may happen to the link during those months of rain, wind and thunders. The very same day that the link was implemented I gave a presentation to the different representatives of the University. I took the chance to talk to the members from different regions of Honduras as they were attending a training. I prepared a short presentation about wireless... I concluded the presentation saying that I was waiting for a big storm to see how the link was going to behave. And yes!! I got my storm, we lost electricity for 36 hours, a few electrical transformers blew up and during that time I was wondering, will the radio link survive? How am i going to explain to the funders that the radio link that I just implemented was gone :-D.

We were lucky -this time-, the radio link DID survive and it is operating now back again. I learned a lot of things in Honduras... I learned about life and living with the elements. I learned to be patience with planet Earth (that we are really f* up) and to relax and enjoy the hours without electricity.

Thanks for the goodbye beer at the Laboratory after working a few hours installing Debian on a couple of servers powered by generator. I hope that Wilkins does not mind this picture of him...

If you want to see the fun we had: A presentation of the implementation of the link is available here

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June 16, 2007 22:34

A first time for everything...

A first time for everything...

52 minutes later at the University.

There is always a first time for everything. In Honduras I lived a tornado... some will say it was hurricane, the distinction is still unclear to me. During those 52 minutes we got even hail... It was only 52 minutes and all started like any other storm...

After the experience I can imagine what can happen when something like this stays for days. A few more pictures in a local newspaper: El Heraldo

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June 16, 2007 22:05

Landing in Honduras, Tegucigalpa

I finally got a pointer to a video of a landing in Tocontin airport. Follow the link and enjoy it!

Mine was in the middle of a storm :)

Here you have a couple of more videos that I heard while I Honduras. [1],[2]

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May 20, 2007 18:40

Living in Spain... the price of a house

Living in Spain... the price of a house

Squatt and flight!

It was eight years ago when I left Spain and since then I have witness -from the distance- the insane price of real state in the country. I wonder how is it possible that housing in Spain is more expensive than in Sweden... one of the winners of the situation is going to be IKEA, people are left with very little money after paying the monthly mortgages and the ultimate solution is to buy furniture do-it-yourself. This globalization thingy creates situations that deserve reflection and reaction. Spaniards buying furniture from a Swedish multinational company that brands design and quality while keeping most of the production in countries with poor worker rights. The worker of Spain pays the mortage to a bank and imports furniture produced in China, Romania and Vietnam. Of course with the design and quality of Sweden a country proud of their workers' rights.

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March 5, 2007 15:38

A movie evening!

As part of the wireless training we had a movie evening!. Food, drinks and of course a generator... the movie was Blood Diamonds. I will not tell you anything about the movie; you should go and watch it! There are many things in the movie that are common to Nigeria. Countries that have plenty of natural resources but do not benefit to their people. It feels insane that a country that exports more oil than Norway or South Arabia has not provided a stable power grid to their citizens. National Geographic this week talks about the Nigerian oil... another interesting reading.

It is not an easy feeling to live in the rural Nigeria knowing that not far from here, it is the oil that pumps our western economy! Need to rush and finish this posting before the next power cut.

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