Friday, 5 October 2007

LRC Conference XII - The Localisation Research Forum

Last week in September I did a talk at the annual Localisation Research Centre (LRC) conference in Dublin. The presentation-slides from the conference are now available online. I have been wanting to participate in this conference for a couple of years now, and I'm very happy that I finally made the rather long trip to Ireland this year.

Dr. Thomas Arend from Google was first out with a very interesting keynote about localisation at Google. Towards the end of his presentation he had a rather strong emphasis on the (future) role of social translation, which nicely set the theme for my talk on the role of XLIFF and related standards in community-driven translation. In the discussion time following the presentation, Peter Reynolds (Idiom and XLIFF TC) encouraged stronger participation from the participants in the future development of XLIFF. Later in the day, the "Localisation - under the Radar" sessions were particularly interesting (the "under the radar" part is clearly an Ireland phenomenon...), with talks on Keyboard development for Indic languages, and Minority Language Success with Catalan. The last session of Day 1 discussed a study on the role of visual translation interfaces. There are no Trados-like or Catalyst-like tools available as open source that allows for translating content with visual helpers such as the actual dialog or document. Clearly the conclusions of this study could only prove that this contextual information helps, and yes, it made me think about how we could develop something similar in open source localisation.

After the last session of Day 1, I was also awarded the LRC Best Scholar Award for my PhD research proposal on context-aware Translation Reuse.

Day 2 had some interesting topics as well. I especially enjoyed Tony O'Dowd's presentation on the latest features in Alchemy Catalyst. Their approach is moving from source-based localisation to binary-based localisation for e.g. help systems. Rather than creating a localisation kit from a large number of source-files, they support the binary compiled help formats, making the whole localisation process more streamlined and less error prone. I'm not convinced of the general benefit of this though, as specific tools are needed to process each binary format. But it's very interesting to see how they are going beyond simple text-based TMs, enabling 'object-based' reuse and matching.

Following an email conversation with a few of the key XLIFF TC participants, I had the opportunity to meet with Tony Jewtushenko (co-chair of the XLIFF Technical Committee) over brunch at the airport before I left Dublin. We talked about XLIFF and we discussed some of the ideas for the next incarnation of the format. I hope to contribute more actively in the development of XLIFF 2.0, ensuring the format meets the requirements we have in community-driven translation processes, and addressing many of the problems we've identified in the previous versions of XLIFF.

I also got the chance to walk around in Dublin city a bit, as I arrived two days before the conference started. Below is a slideshow from the trip.

Going mobile with the Nokia N800

As part of the LRC Best Scholar Award, award sponsor con[text] gave me a Nokia N800 Internet Tablet. It's not a phone, but rather a "wireless internet applicance" with a great 800x480 display, wifi, bluetooth, web-cam and an FM-radio.


And yes, it's a Linux device running the Maemo platform, with lots of great open source applications available. The device comes with a variety of software, including the Opera web browser, Skype (no video/sms) and Google Chat (with web-cam support), as well as a Media player with a variety of video/audio codecs. No calendaring application though, but there are open source alternatives (GPE Calendar) that does some synchronization with e.g. Google Calendar.

The device is not released on the Australian market, although it's available through several online stores. Free or cheap wireless access points are hard to come by in Brisbane (and in Australia in general), hence it's probably not the best market for such a gadget. Next task is to gain root access and figure out how to modify some settings. Brisbane is not in the list of locations, but I should be able to add that...

Well, I'm still happy with my 5-year-old mobile phone, and never really caught on the I-want-the-newest-gadget race, so I would never have considered buying this device in the first place. But I'm sure I'll be able to make good use of it.