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Everybody rants...

Sep. 23rd, 2008 | 05:18 pm

i WANT to go on a vacation...

end of rant

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Happens.. but I want to focus ahead

Sep. 11th, 2008 | 11:36 am
mood: busybusy

Much has been happening over the past few days that distressed quite a few of us. The West Bengal government announced a Bengali Linux Distro called Baishakhi Linux. Thats the news. The story behind news has already been blogged by Sankarshan[1][2] and Sayamindu[1][2]. As of now, the source code is still not available. As I had twittered already..it hurt us all, but did not surprise me. A specimen below:

Moving along...sometime back I had blogged about Glossaries for Bengali Localization that I was working upon. The work done has moved to a more permanent place now: ankur.org.in/wiki/WordCollections. Content is still in the process of being added. From our past 6-7 years of experience of translating User Interface messages, one of the primary requirements that emerges for such efforts is the understanding of the contextual importance of terminology. The current focus of this effort rests on the following criteria:

  • Identification of context specific terminology
  • Application genre specific (as against specific applications) content
  • Reusability of terminology across multiple projects
  • Modular segments for ease of extension and distribution

    At this point of time, we (more hands are always welcome) are in the process of classifying the available terms (english) into appropriate sections and mapping translations. Along with Translation-filter (Kushal r0cks!!) we intend to ensure complete standardization of the bn_IN localized content.

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    Of many things and one

    Aug. 16th, 2008 | 12:34 am
    mood: okayokay

    Long time since this page saw some activity. *sigh*. This could have been a post of many things, like:

  • How stress induced fatigue (my dad's words not mine) caused me to sleep for nearly 36 hours at a stretch
  • The updates to the Gnome Mango system done by Olav Vitters and account system documentation done by Christian Rose has made things so easy for us translators
  • The mad rush for KDE 4.1 Translations
  • The LC Python workshop conducted by ramkrsna, at our office in Pune. Rahul Sundaram followed up with a talk on contributing opportunities in Fedora
  • Our new car
  • The huge power and water shortage that happened in Pune and messed up our daily schedules
  • The much-delayed fun trip to Mumbai and about the time spent with Barkha and her family, the ride on the deccan queen, boat ride to elephanta, visit to mahesh lunch home, getting soaked in the rain at Juhu beach, riding back to Pune in an ambassador taxi amidst pouring rain
  • My views on why overt channel admins (the pronounced green medals, not the access lists) on irc channels in some open-source projects creates unwanted hierarchical levels.
  • Mozilla 3.0.2 translation sprint. Am waiting for a few bug responses at the moment, but hopefully that should not stop the inclusion of bn-IN this time.

    But then let me talk about something thats really much more important. The other day Ani showed me the search feature on the KDE Translation Project website, that allows searching of a term/string in translated content. The setup in this case gets the content from a selected directory of the svn, runs a query for the search string and presents the output results (string and its translated version) with direct link to the source documents. A database is also involved somewhere in between the process.

    So a few of us were talking about having a similar tool that would allow us to search strings on user-defined content locations and present the strings with the search items, corresponding translated content and pointers to the source document. And so evolved Translation-Filter, by Kushal. A nifty little tool, that does just what we need. Its still being worked upon, but at the moment what you can do with it is:

  • Define a custom location with multiple .po files
  • Provide a string to search in the defined location
  • Get an output with the original english string containing the search item,corresponding translated string and the source file name
  • Provide a list of strings to search via a plain text file
  • Save search results as .html pages
  • Use the tool from the command line and a basic GUI dialog box

    The project is a part of Fedora already and Kushal has packaged it.

    At this moment the benefits look huge. Primarily it will allow us to ensure consistency of bn-IN translated content across projects (the ones using .po files at the very least). Perhaps (as Sayam thinks) very soon we can make a web-based version of it too. So right now... kushal++ :D

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    Birthday Boys!

    Aug. 4th, 2008 | 10:49 pm

    Wishing three good friends many happy returns of the day....

    All Photos by ramkrsna

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    Gnome Mango - Some answers

    Jul. 10th, 2008 | 12:13 pm
    mood: busybusy

    I had made a post last week about the problems that quite a few of us were facing with Mango. Finally, after a lot of discussion on the gnome-i18n Mailing list, the missing bits of information came forth from Olav.

    To summarize it:

    For any language, not listed in the New Account Request interface on Mango, please send a mail to accounts at gnome dot org with the specifics of the case. A language can be missing from the Mango interface in any of the following cases:

  • Team co-ordinator does not have an account - it is mandatory for the team co-ordinator to have an account, to get listed on the New Account page. Since the co-ordinator has to vouch for new accounts within the team
  • A new team - Since the co-ordinator her/himself has to get an account to get listed on the page.
  • Error - Happens

    The current documentation does not mention these cases and their solutions. I would not mind lending a hand in here, if the suggested editing requires for volunteers. (Its a wiki but given the special nature of information, its best to wait for an approval.)

    However there is a small catch in all of this. The accounts at gnome dot org, queue handling also sees period of inactivity. Hence, perhaps that bit might need a little attention.

    Thanks to everyone for the clarifications and help. Also, hope everyone has a good party at GUADEC. (Maybe next year I can make it to the GUADEC+aKademy event)

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    The King will be back..

    Jul. 7th, 2008 | 12:01 pm
    mood: okayokay

    An exhilarating match last night. Both deserved to win, but allegiances reign supreme. :-)

    Meanwhile, I am still sleepy after watching the match till 2 in the morning (IST).

    Picture: Wimbledon.org

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    Bitter Mango

    Jul. 2nd, 2008 | 10:23 pm
    mood: frustratedfrustrated

    Dear Lazyweb,

    I have been stuck with a problem for quite sometime now. The new account system for getting Gnome SVN accounts - Mango - behaves a bit oddly at times. The following are the problems that I have seen happening in the past:

    #1: There was no option to request an account as a Translator. It got fixed eventually.

    #2: A voucher is required for a Translator, when she/he requests for an svn account. The voucher is essentially the Translation Team co-ordinator and to ensure that happens, the person requesting the account has to select the Translation Team from a dropdown menu in the New Accounts page. Sounds easy? Well not exactly, if your team is not present in the dropdown list.

    #3: So up next, one has to file a bug against Mango to get the team listed.

    #4: The team is not listed on the dropdown menu if the Team's coordinator does not have an account. Pretty valid. But then how does the co-ordinator request an account, if Mango is the way and the language team will not be listed until she/he actually has an account. Chicken-egg....gaah!

    #5: And even if the co-ordinator does have an account, things might not be all that rosy. ( Kannada, Gujarati, Bengali-India have valid co-ordinators with existing accounts. In case of Kannada, the account stopped working for Pramod one fine day. Marathi has a somewhat similar situation.)

    To be honest, I am completely frustrated. It is understandable, that with limited number of volunteer sysadmins things might run slow. However, the complaints need to be addressed some way or the other. Here in India, most of the language groups are close to each other and the problems come across too starkly.

    I don't know if anyone from Gnome actually reads my mails to the mailing list (most linked above). I was really hoping that someone who could help out would read these words and do something about it. It would be much appreciated around here.


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    A Journal Entry

    Jun. 26th, 2008 | 06:02 pm
    mood: okayokay

    (Since, I would be writing a bit more in response to the comments on my earlier post, I decided to make it into another post.)

    Thanks Chris for dropping by. I hope to make it clear that I do not intend to point fingers at individuals, but rather the overall scheme of things where more often than not, the results take a backseat - much like red-tapism.

    "Selection of locale specific search engine plugins, RSS feeds and services is a key part of trying to give that kind of good experience and I've been a big proponent of trying to make sure that we don't just have en-US selections in the UI of the locale versions. That doesn't serve the best interest of the user, but it does create some tough work for the localization teams. Some teams love this ability to customize the browser to their locale, and some find this extra work tiresome. Where we can find people that want to get involved with the research to find the top search engines and services we definitely want to try and add them as contributors to the localization teams to help distribute the work load. "

    Regarding the above statement, I remember exchanging notes with Axel during Foss.in last year (a good 2 hours, he was kind enough to spare). Especially, about the fact that the standard productization process seems to go through lots of bends. For each language. Given the headstart a few languages had gotten, a natural assumption for l10n volunteers is that the processes would be streamlined into segmented divisions over the course of time. e.g. Pooling of alternatives for indic languages, which would probably share a few resources due to their geographical relevance (RSS feeds, start pages, searchplugins etc.). Re-inventing the wheel in this case is a (re)research overhead for all parties involved. e.g. the amount of time Mic spent chasing up rediff.com for their consent for bn-IN, would be spent again for another language. Instead, if approval for all Indian languages is gained from these Indian websites at one go, all other languages could simply walk-through the process. Same for the earlier mentioned leg-work regarding the First-Run pages. Imho, not too many language groups share such a huge geographical boundary and web-presence. But we do and perhaps merit a somewhat customized localization process. I have been waiting for the FFx2 productization process to reach its end, so that I can collate all the steps that I have completed and create a documentation (checklist with pointers), for other localization teams. Especially, the parts regarding the India-specific bits.

    I do not intend to be given leeway by unexplained choices for an under-baked product. Rather I'd like to see things done with precision - from both ends - to be assured of a product cured of basic failings. I do agree in a way with Axel when he says - "The right thing is to get users a sustained on-line life with mozilla, the wrong thing is to make marks on the wall and just count languages."

    "On-life sustenance" comes from the fact that the basic foundation of the product is strong enough to withstand the expectations from users. What those expectations can be is a matter of homework in the right direction. Marks on the wall always look good, but are not always in the deepest shade.

    Secondly, about the messaging. I would agree that restricting the press coverage is not an option. However, correct packaging of the message is important. That is what I intended to convey. From my personal experience of having to explain how-open-source-projects-work, to various audience levels, I can say that the analogy to be used, differs widely. Mainstream media, to most extent do not understand the concept of "volunteer-driven-open-source-projects". Its a shade of gray, that does not belong to their black and white world. Passion-driven projects are the ones equated with NGOs or hobbyist groups (intended without a commercial motive). Hence, relative circumstances would probably play a huge part in customization of the jargon.

    Thanks Seth for your comment and post. A review of the team standings and itemizing of issues would certainly help. Especially, if the flags can be identified and raised from the past experiences.

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    Motivation is not always the keyword

    Jun. 24th, 2008 | 10:13 pm
    mood: annoyedannoyed

    A recent article published in a leading daily here in India touched quite a few raw nerves. Besides talking about the presence of the Gujarati and Punjabi localized versions of Firefox in its latest version, the article somewhat prominently highlights the absence of quite a few other languages due to "a lack of motivation". Needless to say, there was quite a flutter amongst the volunteer-driven localization communities, who were quick to exchange notes on various mailing lists. So much so, that Chris Hofmann had to come forward with his apologies. Given all the hullaballoo, even I wanted to add my 2 paisa to the entire episode, in my own way.

    First up, its important to understand how the Firefox Localization process works. It is rather different from most other localization projects and can pose quite a challenge even for old-hats. I shall try to summarize it, in the best way I can.

    During the process of Firefox localization, two variants of localized components would surface:

  • A Language Pack: - This is essentially the translations of the user interface messages and can be downloaded as an add-on. In essence, it is like an additional appendage for the Firefox version that one is running.

  • An Official Build: These would be the translations+extra components (like the translations for the various default pages displayed by Firefox), which would be shipped as part and parcel of a Firefox release. ie. (using a similar analogy as earlier), it is like an arm that is part of the body since birth.

    Each language shipped with Firefox, goes from the "Language Pack" stage to the "Official Build" stage in a phased manner. Unlike other translation projects (e.g. Gnome, Fedora), a new language is not included for the offical development version rightaway. Rather, one has to first work on the previously released stable version (so for Firefox 3, one needs to get the Firefox 2 source), complete all the translation and other tidbits, and only then would a language be accepted as official or as its called "productized".

    This is where most of the fun starts. The tidbits include quite a few default pages for Firefox (Complete List is here). The pages are in English and provide the templates for the localized versions. Yet, while translating one has to ensure that the local effects are maintained. For eg. The FireFox First-Run page. Notice the links to "Hype Machine" and "Yelp". Now try figuring out the Indian equivalent for each of them. Yelp could be mapped to burrp.com. But after hunting all over the place for something similar to Hype Machine, finally it was decided to go with an internet Radio station instead. Enter RadioVeRVe. Same goes for search plugins etc. These bits and pieces of the productization part is tracked and submitted through various bugs, which are handled by different Mozilla Developers. I have been working on the Bengali India productization for quite sometime now. Bug id - 398992. As mentioned earlier its a Firefox 2 productization bug and there has been quite a bit of back-and-forth action on the bugs. There is a bug for Firefox 3 as well, but it would only come into effect once the Firefox 2 productization is complete. Bug id - 415575. So it might be a while before all the nitty gritties are worked out and issues finally ironed out. Since Rajesh and I have been closely working with each other, it is quite understandable why the newspaper article came as a mighty blow to him.

    However, what I do find disturbing is the nonchalance on the part of the mainstream media before making such blanket comments. Little knowledge is always a bad thing. Especially in matters like community driven projects, which are to this day an unfamiliar or at best a hazy idea for most people watching things from outside the perimeter of the action. Perhaps it might have helped, if credentials of the commentator could have been judged prior to the interview, so that the messaging would have been drafted in a comprehensible format of the audience. Damage control measures are not always a way out. As are not single points of coordination and failures.

    The Indian community of Localization volunteers are probably one of the most closely knit group of people. With a common culture and geographic proximity that bonds us at a personal level, friendships have been forged, experiences shared and help is always at hand. More than anything, its personal for us. Very very personal and its about time people understand it.

    The Complete process of making an Official Firefox Build.

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    A Journal Entry

    Jun. 19th, 2008 | 12:00 pm
    mood: cheerfulcheerful

    Looks like there would be lots of stories for me when sankarshan returns :D


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