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

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

Google OS or My Life with Google

Wow, what a move. Seems like Google is really serious about taking on the IT world - not that there was any doubt about it after the last few years.

It started out with the search engine, and I remember I was using Dogpile as a search engine back then. Dogpile queried several search engines back then, and Google was one of them. I didn’t see the need to switch, I felt I got the Google results anyway. But very soon, it seemed like Google is really all you need. I thought the caching function was simply awesome, being able to see pages that were long gone.

Next came Gmail, and again I thought I really didn’t need yet another web mail provider. I already had GMX, MyRealBox, a couple of college accounts and a few POPs, so do I need one more? But Google was smart again, with their “Invite only” scheme, they lured me in. Back then, it was just cool to be one of the “chosen people” and once an online acquaintance said he could invite me, I pounced on it. Not that I was a really early adopter - I just checked and my first Gmail dates 9/1/04, but it was still invite only and you only had 5 invites or so. Now, 5 years later, Gmail is pretty much all I use, thanks to the vast amount of storage and retention they offered. And again, they were the forerunner and almost everyone has now switched from the measly 10 MB they used to offer to several GB.

Over the next years they have come out with a few new products, which imho are more evolutionary than revolutionary. Google Docs are nice, but nothing special. The calendar application seems to be popular with some. There is the chat, uh well - I am not a big chatter. I do use the Google Books for classes, sometimes I am lucky and the book I am using in class is available, often in a different edition or older version but nevertheless enough to give me quick access for tests or just to read up while at work.

Then late last year they released the browser Google Chrome. While they say it is now the fourth most browser, that doesn’t mean much because it still is just a user base of less than 2%. I have to admit that I have come to like it more and more. When I am coding web pages, I use it to avoid installing Safari. Both are based on Apple’s open source engine WebKit, but Chrome is not nagging as much with updates and fixes - Safari is relentless. Both have a way of just “looking pretty” - the Mac way. Try it if you haven’t gotten around to it. It is very non-obtrusive, it’s a very light-weight download (under 1 MB IIRC) and can easily be installed and uninstalled. Again, not a real revolution but as a budding web devloper, I welcome every competitor to the all mighty Internet Explorer.

There are more members in the Google family, but stuff like YouTube, Google Groups, Blogger etc. were really just acquisitions or integrations of well established services.

Now today I found this in my Wired newsfeed: Google Announces PC Operating System to Compete with Windows - now there is a revolution in the making. Google has always been a hit with mainstream PC people. Will this be the operating system that Linux always tried to be, but was too geeky to deliver to the Average Joe? It is a Linux flavor, but it will be heavily based on Chrome. The way I understand it, it is almost like a front end to the web and as browser-centric as Windows tried to be. And from what I see from friens and relatives, the web is pretty much the only thing 80% of all PC home users need anyway - email, reading news and gossip, general communication, Facebook/MySpace - you don’t need an operating system for that, you just need a browser. With Web 2.0 this is more true than ever.

Now, they already have Android, the mobile OS used by the HTC Dream/T-Mobile G1 cell phone. It never generated the buzz it probably should have simply because most people considered it an iPhone rip-off. Unfortunately, I never saw one in the wild - also an indication of the low market penetration.

So, am I too much of a fan girl for being excited about this? Am I a chump for thinking Google is the fair-haired boy of the internet? Should I be scared that Google is slowly crawling into just about every part of my life?

Best week ever…

Sometimes, everything seems to just fall into place. This was one of those weeks where it seemed like everything was just working out for me! By Friday noon I was so giddy I could hardly sit still. This is what happened…

Monday:

  • I started my week with a really nice email from the product manager for the Greek application thinking me for the super fast and awesome turnaround on the Greek translation. I sent him a reply back saying I really appreciate the feedback and I made a comment that I am working on a pretty old and weak laptop. He sent me back a note that they have a pretty nice laptop that no one is using and I can have it.
  • I had to hand in phase 3 of my final project for CISP314 and I believe I created a pretty awesome website layout! This is no where near the final version but I am pretty happy with the general look & feel. I am not a fan of Flash but a Flash intro is a requirement.
  • Another homework assignment went well too, an interactive Flash movie. Like I said, I am no big fan of Flash but man, Flash is HARD.

Tuesday:

  • Same PM sent me another note mentioning that he was in a phone conference where the VP of SW Engineering mentioned to the CTO how great translations are working out, how fast, inexpensive and efficient we are. Nice going, this is a great step towards job security :-)
  • I get the UPS shipping note that the laptop is in UPS - yeah, I can’ wait!

Wednesday:

  • I got some financial aid awarded for the Fall semester, a private scholarship for academic excellence for $1000 (half-time student status).
  • After I found a great deal on the super awesome HAMMER HN1200 NAS - it arrived today. Unfortunately, the included 1TB drive was DOA but the device is still a hit.
  • I did my final exam for CISP247 and got a 190/200

Thursday:

  • After I felt like I coasted through much of my class I was worried about having to develop a real functioning database. While I was starting to work on it, I realized I totally got it and just breezed through ER Diagrams, relationships, cardinality, queries and whatnot. Lots of work but I am good to go and finish it properly and without having to pull my hair out.

Friday:

  • I got a new/hand-me-down laptop at work (18.4″ screen, C2D T9600, 4 GB RAM) - OMG, so awesome! It is so huge that I was almost embarrassed. It has a UK keyboard layout and a couple of other little things that are strange but who cares? I can finally dump the Pentium Mobile 2.0 GHz that was just so slow…
  • I had bought a pair of Nike running shoes that once again didn’t work well for my feet but the store allowed me to exchange them without a problem and now I have some Asics Nimbus which simply rock!
  • I received my award for working 10 years at X-Rite
  • I received my Tastefully Simple goodies too - must bake bread :-)

I have the feeling I am forgetting something. I hope this isn’t a display of how sad my life usually is, but the cummulative “Awe Factor” of this week was just super high. Not that I haven’t had great weeks, for example on vacation, but this was just awesome and accomplished.

Now all I have to do is finish up my database and I got another class down!

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

Next Page »