My home on the web - featuring my real-life persona!

Normal, Light, Minimum

I am translating some device strings, and sometimes you run into strings that just seem so wrong. Right now, I am working on a device that triggers a measurement when a user presses down on the measurement head. The user can select how much pressure has to be put on the device, and the options are Normal, Light and Minimum.

This just seems so wrong to me, shouldn’t “Normal” be the middle value and the choices should be Firm, Normal, Light or so? Ts…firmware engineers :-)

Check spelling in HTML files

This is an interesting test - is anyone still listening/reading? It has been very quiet here while I was finishing my BS in Computer Science (look how I casually slipped that in!) and we had some huge projects at work - one increased my work load to handling 14 languages.

Anyway, I believe I am not the only one who translates a lot of HTML files. I use TagEditor and I like it (yes I do, I am not getting paid to say this) but one of it’s shortcomings is the spell checker. Like many, I have used workarounds to make sure my spelling is OK. Usually, I copy the text into Word to check the spelling. If I find a typo or want to change a sentence, I go back into TagEditor, make the change there to update the TM and then export another target file. And I always wished, I could just check the spelling in the HTML file itself.

I know a lot of WYSIWYG HTML editors have a spell checker. I can also open the HTML file in Word and make changes directly in Word. Either solution is not recommended because more often than not, they mess with the HTML code. Sometimes, it is just the indentation of the code but often they add or change tags which can cause problems on client site or even worse, corrupt the page.

The other problem is that you cannot see the file in its “natural habitat”, ie. processed by a browser. Word tries to show you what the page may look like but it is IE exclusive. Most WYSIWYG editors also emulate/integrate one browser or another to display the page but especially when using CSS styles, they usually fail.

I have been looking for a spell checker that works directly in Firefox, my default browser. There are many spell checkers that work in input locations, for example text boxes and fields, but nothing worked in the display static text of a web page. I looked back, and in December 2007 I was on the hunt the last time. Apparently I didn’t run into web pages issues since then because only today this problem came up again. Again, I did a quick search and low and behold, there now is a bookmarklet/plugin that works! I am trying to track down the origins, and I believe it originated from Urbano’s Blog written by alex. On a lot of other sites I found an additional link using that JavaScript that you can just drag and drop onto your bookmark toolbar in FF: Spellcheck Anywhere

Using it couldn’t be easier. Open the HTML page you want to check in Firefox (and this should be the default when double-clicking an HTML page anyway), then click on the bookmarklet and there you go, spell checking in your browser window! You can change the language to whatever spell checker you have installed - just click Ctrl-A to highlight all text, then right-click on any text portion and in the context menu select the desired language from Languages. If you need more languages, you can download those for free from Firefox Dictionaries & Language Packs

There is one small problem though, while it looks like it allows you to edit the HTML page, the changes are are not saved when you try to save the edited file. This is a little unfortunate because it would spare me the extra step of saving the target file in TagEditor again, but nevertheless, this will make my life so much easier!

Cool Tool - ExamDiff Pro

Yeah, I am still alive but barely and I believe my brain is quite worn out. We had released several new products and launched a separate website specifically for the photo market (http://www.xritephoto.com).

I also designed a webpage (http://www.mm-translations.com), I turned 40, we took a few short trips during the summer and we just had nice weather so I rather stay outside.

During one of my projects I had to send out Word documents for review. I told everyone to please turn on “Tracking” in Word and correct the files so I can update my translation memories. These were long (70 pages), big (60 MB) documents with a lot of formatting, grouped elements and images.

Unfortunately, people either don’t like or are not familiar with the tracking function (and are afraid to ask), so I got a variety of documents back, each markked up in a creative way - or not at all.

Now, I know that Word has a Compare function, but I have never been happy with the results. The view is very messy, it highlights ever little “font hiccup” and some ominous language changes and I’d say it is not usable in general.

Fortunately, I remember the little compare tool I use for XML files, it is called ExamDiff and I wondered what it would do with a binary format like a Word document. Well, it handles them like a champ! I have created a doc with a partial Microsoft EULA and changed a copy. ExamDiff shows both documents in a window split vertically or horizontally, highlighting the lines that changed and marking the particular change.

But for me the best was the report function. Since I had to communicate all the changes back to my Italian translator, this was very important. ExamDiff created an HTML document (other formats are also available) that basically looked exactly like the comparison I saw in the application window. It had a little legend that explains what the colors mean and I was able to just send this document to my translator who was easily able to update his translation memory with these changes. Report generated by ExamDiff

Maybe there are a lot of tools like this out there, but ExamDiff has always been wonderful when comparing XML files or source code with 10,000+ lines of code, but until now I was not aware that it can do other files.
Now, as for versions, we are using the older version ExamDiff Pro 3.5. The new version 4.5 costs $35 and is available at PrestoSoft

Fun with character encodings, Greek ANSI

Now that I got the Java encodings half way under control, I encountered “Fun with character encodings” again. This time, it’s a Greek tragedy.

A couple of days ago I received a small text file with English strings. The strings are messages for a service pack and they are needed to be translated in Greek. Unfortunately, that wasn’t all, the text file needs to be in ANSI format because the installer InnoSetup requires that format. Hmm, I immediately thought that smells like trouble because most languages with a different codepage really need to be encoded in Unicode, ANSI does not have enough characters. But first, let’s get it translated.

I got the translation back as a Word file and while I could have probably just asked the translator to send it as a Greek ANSI, I thought I’d give it a shot myself. The first dumb try, open file in Notepad++ and select “Convert to ANSI”. Of course, I get:

greek.INVALID_VERSION_MESSAGE=??t? t? pa??t? e??µ???s?? µp??e? ?a e??µe??se? µ??? t?? ??d?s? %1 ?a? ? d???? sa? e??a? %2.

So I google to see if it is at all possible and yes, it seems like you can encode Greek text in ANSI but unline English, which uses codepage 1252, Greek has to use 1253. Well, that doesn’t seem to be that hard, so I try again. Still the same. OK, maybe a different text editor - nope, doesn’t work either. So, now I send the UTF-8 encoded text file to the Greek translator and ask him if he can convert it into ANSI.

While I wait, I do a little more research and I stumble over a little Microsoft tool named AppLocale. At first I misunderstood the purpose, I thought it is just to switch the system locale, something you can easily do through the control Panel. But after a little more reading, I realized that this may be my solution. I can use AppLocale to open another application and AppLocale will pretend it is a localized Windows environment. So, in my case I needed to look at my Greek ANSI file on a Greek system, which I don’t have. Instead, I use AppLocale to open my text editor and with this instance of the text editor, I open my Greek file. Lo and behold, all characters come out correctly.

greek.INVALID_VERSION_MESSAGE=Αυτό το πακέτο ενημέρωσης μπορεί να ενημερώσει μόνο την έκδοση %1 και η δικιά σας είναι %2.

My file was correct all along, I just couldn’t verify it on my system. I’ll make sure to keep this little application around because I have run into this in the past and usually just ended up submitting a Unicode file and let the developers deal with it. By this time my translator had also sent me the file back and certainly, his looked just the same.

Translator 1, Greek ANSI File 0

OMG - It’s full of mistakes!

So, we just had one of our applications translated into Greek. It is a very big application for a total of 13,000 words just strings. Initially, we had about a month so time was not a big issue and the translation got started on May 8th. Of course, these things change and all of a sudden, we needed it not by the beginning of June but for a show on May 20th. That means 12 days for the translation, cleaning up the bilingual files, importing the strings, fixing truncations and other issues, testing functionality and compiling DLLs. Of course we made it!

Now I was waiting for feedback. Nothing at all from the guys who were at the show. No “good job”, no “shame on you” - nothing. After a week, I inquired and I got the reply back that there were “a big number of errors”. That sent a shiver down my spine. We don’t have many translations into Greek, only one other application so I don’t know this translator very well. We don’t have any Greek reference material, but I asked and he confirmed that he knew the subject matter. And I myself can of course not check anything in Greek.

Turns out, it wasn’t all that bad. We had issues for all language because unless you are a printing press operator, you really can’t figure out some things. I remember asking our German guys questions and they had no clue either. Unfortunately, some terms that were wrong occured 50 or even 100 times so yeah, it looks like a lot. Correcting all strings took me a couple of hours of manual copy/paste, which is not bad at all.

It just irks me that the only feedback I get was that there are a lot of errors (which wasn’t even true). He never acknowledged that we did the impossible by turning this around so fast and that it worked fine. Only the tester mentioned that this must have been the fastest turn-around we had for any language but I am also getting a lot better at handling languages I know nothing about. The last translation we did for that was Russian - I am fine navigating through French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, but Russian and Greek are a whole different animal. If I see a truncation at runtime, I can’t just type in the text I see and search for it - I need a virtual keyboard and go letter by letter type in a keyword to search for. And I am amazed how nicely Trados and TagEditor handle the different character sets. I don’t think many people know what an ordeal it can be to have an application ready for non-Western character sets.

Ah well, believe it or not, I still love doing it - it’s a big girl puzzle and I am getting paid to solve it!

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