Monday, September 24, 2007

Self promotions on BBC-News

The BBC-news website is my primary website for news. It provides great information and I have read it for many years. As I am driving less nowadays, I do not listen as often as I used to to the BBC-Worldservice (648 AM).

Recently there has been an increase in the number of video fragments. At the same time I find that I am less likely to watch them. The reason; every fragments is now preceded with a promotion and it is annoying and distracting to the point where I do not bother any more.


Sunday, September 16, 2007


When kids go to school for the very first time in Germany, they get a " Zuckertüte". A Zuckertüte is a big carton cornet filled with sweets and little gifts.

The word Zuckertüte is a good example of a word where I do not expect translations in any other language as it is a real German tradition. This does not mean that there cannot be translations of the definition.

I hope that the grandchildren of this little lady have a great day at school tomorrow :)


Friday, September 14, 2007


When I started to record pronunciations for Wiktionary, I used Audacity. It is a great tool but hey when you are a serial recorder, you want to have a tool that assist and helps you to do it it efficiently. Shtooka is a great tool. I think I blogged it in the past.

Now they have surpassed themselves. There is now the Shtooka explorer. It allows you to listen to the many, many pronunciations in several languages they have recorded. It is an absolutely gorgeous application that really shows off an already great project :)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Social networks

I have been using social networks for some time now, LinkedIn, Plaxo, ecademy and facebook is where you can find me. As I have invested a considerable amount of time, it is relevant to consider if they are worth the time and effort.

LinkedIn, Plaxo and ecademy are at a considerable disadvantage because in order to get the full functionality, you have to spend money. It then becomes relevant to understand the potential benefits for these networks. All three provide basic functionality that is for free and as there is no real overlap yet, I maintain a presence there.

Facebook is what I have been looking at lately. What it has right is that it tries to connect people, the groups they belong to, the causes they champion and the organisations they are associated with. When you combine it with the potential to program extra functionality for facebook, you get a more compelling package then its competition.

It is however lacking in other ways. For one the way it has its security is minimal. I do not mind to tell the world that I am on facebook, but I prefer that only friends and friends of friends can see who my friends are. I would happily leave Plaxo behind when facebook had the same security for sharing personal and work information.

The one thing all the social networks have in common is that they are proprietary. To make their functionality useful to me, I have to trust it with my information. I do however not know if the implementation of their security can be trusted. Were they to use something like A-Select I would feel more comfortable because it would allow enough eye balls to vouch for the authentication process. Even though it would be a great step forward, it would be better if all the software were Open / Free software. Authentication is one aspect, the authorisation within the application itself can still make my data insecure.

Who to trust, why to trust ...


Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Hehe is a language spoken in the Iringa Region, south of Gogo in Tanzania by some 750.000 people. There is no article about this language on the English Wikipedia but there is an article on the people who speak this language; the Hehe.

Even though there are many references at the back of the article, it is marked as not citing references or sources. I do agree however that this article would benefit a lot from wikifying and the creation of supporting articles. It is a good example of the amount of work that needs doing to make the English Wikipedia relevant as a resource for Africa.


Monday, September 10, 2007

Sassarese and Sardinian

There is a Wikipedia in the Sardinian language. It uses the sc ISO-639-1 code. What was known as Sardinian became srd in the ISO-639-2. In the ISO-639-3 it was recognised as a macrolanguage; practically what was called Sardinian was split into four languages.

The Italian government has officially recognised the Sardinian language or the "Limba Sarda Comune". This is in essence a constructed language as it tries to make one language out of the four "dialects". One of the effects has been that some people prevent others from writing in one of the four languages on the sc.wikpedia.

The language committee of the Wikimedia Foundation has a request to approve a new language; one of the Sardinian languages, Sassarese with ISO code sdc.

There are two problems to deal with:
  • The "Limba Sarda Comune" is not recognised as a language
  • The proponents of the "Limba Sarda Comune" reserve the sc.wikipedia for their language
This issue is political. The first thing that I understand when you go to the official website is the notion of identity and indeed, to create one Sardinian identity it would be instrumental to have a unifying language. However, the map of the Sardinian languages is clear, the island is divided in four.

Given that the language committee has as one of its rules that political arguments are not accepted, there are a few conclusions that we should make.
  1. Sassarese can have a conditional approval
  2. We urge the proponents of the Limba Sarda Comune to ask for the recognition of this newly constructed language from ISO.
I have had a chat with Debbie Garside about all this, and I understand that it is necessary to apply for an ISO-639-3 code before an IANA language code is likely to be approved. At least fifty published works in the Limba Sarda Comune will be required.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Wikizine but more relevant WalterBE

Walter is a long-standing member of the Wikimedia Foundation. He is a steward, he is the editor-in-chief of Wikizine. He organised the first official meeting of people of the nl.wikipedia .. there were only two people and we had fun.

People who know Walter know him as a soft spoken can-do person. He has done much of the organisational work on the Dutch Wikipedia, organising elections, being involved in OTRS from the start. He is the press contact for Belgium ... As a steward he did much good, he is a member of the communication committee ...

Walter has indicated that he has grown away from the community and as such his motivation for Wikipedia and Wikimedia stuff has gone downhill. He does not feel that he can properly represent the WMF and the community, he is disappointed in the lack of cooperation around Wikizine ... What has prevented him so far to stop is his sense of responsibility to the Wikizine readers. Wikizine has been a labour of love for Walter, there has been little input from the community to inform Walter about the latest, no people except for proof readers who shared the burden of this well received periodical.

Well, I can only be sad that Walter finds his commitments a burden. I do hope that he will know and remember how much he is appreciated for the work that he does and has done. Really, to me Walter is one of the most important Wikimedians.


Friday, September 07, 2007

My friend Bèrto 'd Sèra

I think Facebook sucks, they are not able to write my friend's name correctly ...

Kamusi, The Internet Living Swahili Dictionary has been taken offline.

Kamusi is a great lexical resource for Swahili. With a lot of great effort this became one of the really relevant Internet projects of Yale University. It is with sadness that I found that it has been taken off line.

It is sad, that such a sterling effort is endangered on what seems to me a minor issue. It is sad because the many Kamusi's users are now without their Swahili dictionary.

I contacted Martin Benjamin, the editor of Kamusi and, I learned that the World Language Documentation Centre is willing to help out with the hosting of Kamusi. Martin and the WLDC are looking for the best way forward; maybe another university can take over where Yale has dropped the ball, maybe Yale will reconsider ...

When I know how to get to the new Kamusi website, I will let you know.


Monday, September 03, 2007

Cool application

I found this tool called Touchgraph Google Browser. It allows you to see how a particular website is connected to other websites. It gives you a nice presentation with links between the many websites that are connected. It is nice to compare for instance a, a and an


Saturday, September 01, 2007

A computer that works for Luna and Marco

Luna and Marco live in Italy. In Italy it can get hot. It gets so hot that the computer they use overheats. Their computer only works early in the morning and late in the evening. They can push at the edges a bit because Marco found that an Ubuntu live CD gives them some more time then Windows XP does.

Their mother, Luna and Marca are five years old, also has a computer. Her computer only works reliably in the hot Italian summer with an external fan pointing at the computer. The computer is raised a bit from the desk to improve ventilation even further.

In all the talk about computers something simple like the environment is hardly mentioned. PC's and laptops are thought to work in an office environment. In an office environment it is expected that the temperature is regulated.

The OLPC is made for kids and it will work in a hot environment. Luna and Marco would love to have one. It is sad that their mother has to use a computer that cannot take the heat and, a computer that is not as cool.