Wednesday, March 31, 2010

#Sourceforge April Project of the Month: #Mantis Bug Tracker

The assertion that people are sloppy readers just got confirmed. I am proud about Freecol doing well but I missed completely that MantisBT, another application localised at is the Sourceforge April Project of the Month.

Congratulations !!

#Freecol featured as the top 18 #Sourceforge project

When a project localised at gets in the picture, I am secretly proud. We are part of its success. Learning that Freecol features as the number 18 application of Sourceforge is really nice..

The funny thing is, we have our logo for Freecol, there is no logo at Sourceforge..


One website to inform about them all

The Dutch government announced "". It is the website where all Dutch governmental departments will provide data to the Dutch people. The roll-out started today and should be finished by the fourth quarter of 2010.

The information is available under a CC0 license. This is just another thing that makes me feel good about being Dutch.

The "Bebaskan Pengetahuan 2010" is a go

Complete article
The "Bebaskan Pengetahuan 2010" has kicked off with press releases, press conferences and as relevant the training of people new to the Indonesian Wikipedia. As you may recall, there is a competition between 10 universities so the aim is not only to create new content but also to build relations with the Indonesian academic world.

Telling the world with the Dirjen Aplikasi Telematika
Organising a big event like this takes a lot of effort by a team of people, it is important to get it right because paraphrasing David Gerard's law, an opportunity well taken opens up two more opportunities.

one of the team members
the training session

Best blogging practices

I was asked to write what I consider best practices for blogging. Before you start blogging, it is important to consider who you do it for; what it is you want to achieve.

My blogging is aimed at achieving goals I set myself. As the visitors to my blog are from the whole world, I write in English but I do provide a translation service in order to widen the appeal.

People are sloppy readers, pictures are typically better understood. Use few words and many illustrations. Restrict yourself in a blogpost; not more then one message is to be preferred. An unfamiliar or new message needs repeating; most people do not "get it" in one go.

Your message, your objective is a composite of many smaller parts. They are related and these relations allow you to vary your approach. In a way, you put on an act, but the act has to be sincere because you will be associated with your writing. I aim to achieve things but when I write in a negative style, people will resent both me and my objective.

Some of my most effective blog entries are written by others. Other people allow you your success anyway and, as success has many fathers, it is best to acknowledge them and thank them. Their success is your success.

In order to blog successfully, you have to blog often and be brief. It helps to be on aggregators to tweet your new blog posts and know what your audience read and where they are coming from. Oh yes, spend time on your hyperlinks.

Improved #usability for #Bengali use of #MediaWiki

The advanced toolbar for MediaWiki will support the characters of the Bengali language. Bellayet provided the information, Roan added it in the software and, you can now see for yourself that such cooperation works.

It is just a matter of providing all the characters for your language in the right order... 

There are two things to consider:
  • as it is part of the software, it will be available on all wikis
  • if a change for your language is useful somewhere else, it should be part of the software and not of a local change in the javascript

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Swedes have their map support

Like the Danish Wikipedia, the Swedes have their own solution for their articles without illustrations. The Spanish have the option to learn from either or, they will roll their own.

Then again, the proverbial Dutch Wikipedians on a holiday is unlikely to learn about these needs for illustrations. They may make relevant pictures but why upload, why go the extra mile and make a picture without (the wife / the husband / the kids / your choice )?

A solution for Swedes
Yeah, yeah there are 270+ Wikipedias and they all need their own solution or, do they?

Good news and bad news; #Wikimedia strategic planning

Werdna pinged me that my problem with the strategic planning process has been solved. It took a concerted effort by several of our best and brightest developers to come up with a solution.

The good news is, indeed it has been fixed. The bad news is, I now have 318 new messages to read.

Should I try and cope with such a load of data that no longer represents the current thinking. What is a good stategy out of this potential time sync?

PS LiquidThreads IS a great tool !!

The lighter side of #depression

Depression is a disease that is treated with medicines, sessions with a psycho-therapist, group therapy, they have you running, swimming .. it sounds like fun and it is not.

The good news is, that they have you do "pleasurable things" and, laughter is considered advantageous.. Sigmund pokes fun at therapists, patients, the world and its foibles.

The use of antidepressants is such that all fish are on it and must be happy.. Maybe fish for a next life ?

The good news? You get well and over it and, there is always tomorrows Sigmund.

The Danes have their map support

The Danish Wikipedia are indeed lucky to have the creator of as a member of their community. He created these really useful maps for them.

Danish Wikipedia articles
Danish Wikipedia articles without a picture
It is wonderful to have such maps; they provide locally relevant information and they provide an incentive to get on your bike and go on a photo safari.

It would be great to have existing and proven technology available within the Wikipedia projects, all 270+ of them.. At the moment a lot of effort goes into providing some sort of geo location support. It takes some project management and some development to finally integrate map support in MediaWiki.

#Wikipedia articles without #illustration

On the Spanish Wikipedia there are articles without an illustration. Usuario:Emijrp did embark on a project to put them on a list. This list called the "Imágenes_requeridas_por_zona" contains the geo codes necessary to find the subjects of these articles.

The list that Emijrp created with a bot represents our current technology. It represent a lot of hard work but sadly there is little chance of Dutch Wikipedians on a holiday in Spain taking the requested pictures. When we have a map of the world with all the articles in need of (more) illustrations, we would leverage existing technology. Existing technology like OpenStreetMap..

We need a project manager for map integration. It is not only about illustrating articles with maps, maps have other uses as well.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Musings of a VC in NYC

When a VC in NYC wonders "Does Rest Of World Matter More Than The US?" it is of such an interest that I was plugged in to these musings. On this blog the following ComScore numbers for February 2010 were mentioned.
  • Google: 890mm worldwide visitors, 745mm non US - 84% non US
  • Facebook: 471mm worldwide visitors, 370mm non US - 78% non US
  • Twitter: 74mm worldwide users, 53mm non US - 72% non US
The conclusion is:

The conventional wisdom is that international usage cannot be monetized as well as US traffic and that is certainly true. But with >80% of your potential users outside of the US, I think the web sector needs to start working harder on international monetization.
Even if international traffic could only be monetized 25% as well as US traffic, when your international traffic is 80% of your total traffic, you would make as much money internationally as domestically. So that's a lot of potential out there to be tapped.

The traffic numbers for Wikipedia are not different. This is best expressed in the score card graph.

The Google, Facebook, Twitter numbers are considered for their potential of monetisation. For Wikipedia this is not a stated objective. With Wikipedia the aim is to bring knowledge to every human being. This graph shows where these people are. This graph provides an argument where the Wikimedia Foundation should invest to maximise its return on investmentment.

#Google, where are my #blogger images?

Most of the images that I placed so carefully on my blog are missing. The image that should show here is removed from my view. It shows that even the picture that I use as my avatar do not show.

While we are at it, uploading the pictures to the Picasa web version is in itself a good idea. You will find that a picture has been uploaded again and again. I am quite happy if you reconcile them. I hope that a process like this is the reason why my blog looks so bare..

Update: they are back at 22:36

Demographics and content dynamics of #Wikimedia #Commons.

Commons is the repository of media files for all the projects of the Wikimedia Foundation. In addition to this, MediaWiki installations can be easily configured to use Commons as well.

When you analyse the content of Commons, you will find that it is supplied by a community that largely follows the demographics of the traffic of the Wikimedia projects. A community that understands and communicates in English.

Wikimedia license texts

This issue is well understood; Multichill harnesses the power of to provide improved multi lingual support. The CSS of Commons provides the best right to left support of all the Wikimedia projects.

Layla and Majnun
As the content of Commons has a distinct western bias, the illustrations bring this bias in to the Wikipedias. This issue is well understood as well; many of the media files that have been digitally restored have a subject that is not western.

However, much of the original material is from western archives like the superb Library of Congress. Its content represents an American taste but at the same time it is the best we have and we cherish the LoC for this. What the LoC does not offer is contemporary material.

Given this line of thought, we need more media files from Afrika, Asia, South America and some parts of Europe. In order to get both contemporary and historic material we need to make it easier for people to contribute.

I welcome Guillaume's blog post that explains a need for improved tooling to manage Commons. Given that this will be implemented in software, we will engage our localisation community in order to make Commons easier for everyone even for those that do not speak English.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Two new Sea Eagle pairs breeding in the Netherlands

Haliaeetus albicilla

The Sea Eagle has returned to the Netherlands. The first pair breeding for the first time received a lot of attention, two new pairs breeding do not get the same amount of press. It demonstrates the viability of the species in this densely populated country and is therefore a big thing.

This biggest of aerial predators is sociable, they can breed close together. I had hoped that a second pair would have chosen the Oostvaardersplassen as well, there is food enough. Maybe next year.

The integration of #OpenStreetMap and #MediaWiki needs project management

One of the most eagerly awaited software projects is the integration of OSM in Wikipedia. Having support for high quality maps will provide such an obvious improvement it is actually a no-brainer. When you consider how much effort has gone into bringing maps to Wikipedia; the German chapter investing in it, the time of at least two developers over the years and maps integration as Google Summer of Code projects ...

नीरज अग्रवाल
This year, another student wants to make his mark on the map of the Google Summer of Code. Neeraj Agarwal. Neeraj is from India and if there is one country that will poses a challenge to get all its villages, towns and cities on the Wikipedia map, it is India. Not only because of there being so many of them but also because of there being so many Wikipedias in the languages of the Indian subcontinent.

I had a word with several people interested and involved in the Wikipedia and OpenStreetMap integration and for me it is clear that many people want this but that all the effort is not managed into one cohesive effort. An effort that brings the many interested parties together, an effort that priorities what needs to be done. An effort that coordinates what it takes to get a product out.

At this stage we need the effort of Neeraj, we need our bugmeister to assess the existing code, we need to get an initial product out. Once we have it out, we can make it pretty.

The new #Library

The new library of #Almere opened and it made me feel comfortable and at home. There are plenty power adapters, places to study or play, read or lounge. There were many festivities, and Ronald Giphart was invited to give a workshop on writing and publishing a book.

The one thing that surprised me was that an author does not decide the title of his book; the publisher does. The cover and the title is decided by the publisher and, this is also true for translations.

Ronald wearing a headscarf

By coming to Almere, one of the bastions of right wing local ineffective politics, Ronald runs the risk of being charged the 1000 EURO "kopvoddentax" or head cloth tax.. He demonstrated his willingness to wear the headscarf so he must be willing to take the consequences...

Ronald's Wikipedia article is found to be lacking. Sadly I did not bring my camera, the article misses a portrait that does do him justice. The article itself does not do Ronald justice either; on his website the biography part explicitly informs the reader all that is wrong with the Wikipedia article.

Ronald got blocked when he updated his Wikipedia article, I told him about OTRS and Wikiportret. We could consider it an experiment; will the facts as provided be read by the Dutch Wikipedians and will they do good or is it necessary for Ronald to go through to the motions...

PS I told Ronald that I would just use one of his pictures for my blog.. he told me that that was OK for the occasion,

Saturday, March 27, 2010

New #scripts are recognised

For the ISO 15924 the codes for the representation of names of scripts, scripts have been recognised and added to this registry.

Given that these scripts are now recognised as existing in this standard, it is interesting to learn what this means for the support of the characters of these scripts in  Unicode. I expect that this is just the next step that needs to be taken in order to get the languages these scripts are used by ready for the modern world ie usable in text processors and usable on the Internet.

Following a #Swahili blog

The Swahili #Wikipedia is a vibrant, innovative African Wikipedia. It is blessed with a dedicated community and, one of their own, Muddyb Blast Producer has started to experiment with a blog.

Blogs are there to be read, so I promised him to blog about it. I will even follow his blog as he installed Google translate on his blog. The most convenient way of following him would be in my reader.. The question is, how do I get it to translate those blogs in languages I cannot follow otherwise..

#Monuments on the map

Bergen is a small town in the Netherlands. And it has many nice old buildings, some of them are even earmarked as "cultural property". According to the The Hague convention (1954), such properties should not be damaged in a military conflict and are not to be used for military purposes..

In the Netherlands we call them "monuments", they are buildings of any type: churches, bars, farms, bridges... They are typically tagged with the blue and white shield.

Monuments in Bergen NH
There are public lists of Dutch monuments. These found their way into our projects and as this information comes with geo-location, it was an obvious next step for Multichill to produce an overlay with monuments for Google earth.

This is an obvious first step to visualise what monuments need pictures and articles.. Given the success of previous cultural heritage projects, this new ambitious project will generate lots of fun.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Monuments and the Dutch #Wikipedia

When the Brits and the Ruskies invaded the Netherlands in 1799, they fought and lost the battle of Bergen. Much of the fighting was close to the ruins of a church that was fired during the Dutch Revolt.

This church is earmarked as a monument, and given that Bergen is a really nice town, it stands to reason that more monuments can be found in that area. At this moment I have a map of Bergen with one monument..

On the Dutch Wikipedia there is a heritage project that evolved from a mill project. The members of the project are ambitious and want to have articles and pictures of all Dutch monuments. They want high quality data and they want to put all monuments of Bergen on the map as well.

When you are that ambitious, it makes sense to involve the Dutch chapter and, learn how we can do this effectively. Yesterday there was a meeting of interested people brain storming, planning how to make this a big thing .. This story will be continued..

Freely available and value added information

Representatives of #Wikimedia chapters can be found at more and more conferences. We even have our own conferences.

Today I was asked by Mathias who is at the EVPSI public launch in Turin, if I know this document. The document was new to both of us, and it informs the world that the documents of the European Commission can be freely reused.

I had a brief glance and it mentions "value added" a lot, I read this as you can use the information commercially. I wonder however in what way Europe is served best. Good quality, open information available for free or such value added services.. I am inclined to think that as long as one is not in the way of the other it would be fine.

Then again, I expect that such commercial services will want to prevent free quality information and will abuse arguments that they provide a service already and that it is a waste of taxpayer money when the EU provides a high quality free service as well..

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The end of #netware support

As an IT-professional, I combined my mini mainframe expertise to one LAN server system. I chose for Novell and NetWare because its functionality was much more complete and secure for actual companies.

When I passed my first certification test, I received a plastic red tulip. When I had enough certifications to call myself Certified Novell Engineer, I had a bunch. I bought extra flowers for whenever I passed a test ... Microsoft, IBM, Tivoli, CISSP ...

Today I received a mail that Netware is no longer supported by Novell.

What have you done for me lately

I received this friendly e-mail from Mr Kohs.. On behalf of all the Wikimedia projects my reply to him is this video..


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

More #mobile #Wikipedia news (continued IX)

  • at new localisations are being added all the time
  • the latest complete localisation was entered today for Lombard
  • several people from India confirmed that they share my wish for an input method for Latin script keyboards
  • it would be nice to learn that the existing code can be implemented on the software that supports mobile Wikipedia
  • it would be nice to have at least the same features as our commercial competition ... Hampton / Erik pretty please?

    Entering #Malayalam on a keyboard

    Languages of the Indian subcontinent are having a hard time gaining the audience they deserve. When you use Wikipedia on a computer, they have a way of using a Latin script based keyboard to enter text for languages like Malayalam.

    I have been reading on the subject and, I learned how Gmail solves this issue..

    Gmail offers an automatic transliteration option that converts Roman characters to the characters used in Arabic, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Nepali, Persian, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. This feature lets you type these languages phonetically in English letters, but they'll appear in their correct alphabet. Keep in mind that transliteration is different from translation; the sound of the words is converted from one alphabet to the other, not the meaning.

    Such a technology is used for use of the full Wikipedia. It is however not available for Wikipedia on the mobile phone. As a consequence it is not possible to search and find articles. This is an essential ability.

    I read some more and found by way of Wikia this excellent website that explains this issue really well for the Malayalam language. It is obvious that this is a well known issue with readily available solutions. It just needs to be implemented.

    PLEASE Wikimedia Foundation make this a priority. I understand that India is considered a strategic priority so please do the obvious thing and include / enable / whatever is needed to make mobile Wikipedia work in India and for Indian languages.

    A special day

    Every now and then there is a day when special people are celebrated. One of the better know people to be honoured in this way is Martin Luther King. This lady is from an era not associated with the industry she laid much of the foundations of.

    I have worked in that industry for quite some time and I am happy to acknowledge that my female colleagues were typically superior compared with my male colleagues. Another classic female role model of my industry is this navy person.

    I want to keep it personal by naming but a few Lesley, Brianna, Susanne, Naoko, Lise and thanking them as well as the many others for their quality and their professionalism and for being fun to work with.

    I do not participate in the Wikimedia Strategy project

    Here is why; when you are to be involved in a strategy project, you need the best of breed tools to communicate. The best tool for the job is Liquid Threads. It is a great tool and I am satisfied with its use at

    I am satisfied because even though we use the latest and greatest of this software, I can live with its occasional hiccups. It works well for us. We get regular updates and necessary fixes take at most a couple of days.

    My 310 strategic new messages
    At strategy, there have been no regular updates and as I still cannot properly read my "new messages". I have lost interest. Strategy is broken and I prefer practical work; improving and promoting the support for Wikipedia on the mobile phone, getting the localisations for the next release of MediaWiki to all MediaWiki wikis, learning how to support images that are too big for a screen and getting support for the languages of the Indian subcontinent.

    LiquidThreads will get fixed on the strategy wiki eventually but when will I know..