Sunday, January 31, 2010

Commons has 6,000,000 media files

One of the #geograph pictures became the 6 millionth file on Commons.

Geograph is a British organisation that aims to collect geographically representative photographs and information for every square kilometre of Great Britain and Ireland. They do a splendid job and they make their material available under the CC-by-sa licentie.

The picture is called Sailing on Ullswater and was created by James Hearton.

The Geograph contains really nice pictures and, it is a great concept. It would be a great concept for the WMF chapters to adopt. Adopting it on a global scale would be a great way of stimulating local interest for our projects.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Amsterdam fashion week

The #Tropenmuseum currently has an exhibition on traditional clothing, modern designs, video portraits and even a catwalk.

It is fitting that one of the images that the Tropenmuseum asked us to digitally restore was finished this week. Durova blogged about the issues with this work and Susanne recognised it immediately as one of the photos by Tassilo Adam that was featured in an exhibition about the Batak people of Indonesia and the fabrics they use in their clothing..

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Gods do not use an iPhone

The #Tropenmuseum new object of the month is this statue of the God Ganesha.

In a break with the past, the object of the month is about objects that have an interesting story to tell. This month, Ganesha is sitting on a money box with a mobile at its ear.

The associated text is in translation:

Ganesha, contemporary appearance of Ganesha as a businessman, sitting on a money box having a conversation on his mobile. The God with the head of an elephant, Ganesha, is the son of Shiva and Parvate, two important deities of the Hindu pantheon. He is the leader of the ganas (earth spirits and kobolds). Ganesha is the God of wisdom and the remover of obstacles of material and psychic nature. As a consequence he is venerated before important business is undertaken. The popular Ganesha can be found in tempels on house shrines, in niches in shops, on dashboards, near a door as a statue, print or as sticker. In many places Ganesha is venerated in the form of a stone painted orange with the contours of en elephant. He is depicted either sitting, standing , crawling or dancing.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

#OpenStreetMap is used in Haiti

When a disaster strikes, good information helps understand the situation, it helps the planning and execution of the relief work needed to bring some normalcy back.

On OpenGeoData there is an article that explains how the Fairfax County Urban Search & Rescue Team uses OSM maps on their Garmin units. It is a happy situation that these maps are there for everyone to use.

When you look at the localisation statistics for OSM, you find that Haitian Creole is missing. There is a Haitian Wikipedia so there is support for this language at It would be good if we find people willing to work on the OSM localisation as well; this will make the maps useful to the people of Haiti as they are rebuilding their country.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sue's letter to the board about strategy

On the strategy wiki there is a letter from Sue Gardner and the strategy project team. This letter essentially is a digest of the recent developments of the process that is to produce a strategy for the next five years.

There is much in it and, I am trying to get my head around it. I think I like it, certain parts are brilliant and there are parts where I am not sure. What I really like is that the WMF clearly positions itself as the organisation that makes our projects possible and, much of the local organisations is left to chapters. The problem is what to do when there is no chapter, when a culture, a country is not well covered in our biggest Wikipedias let alone in Wikipedias in local languages.

I am thinking on this, and I am sure to blog again about this in the future.

Friday, January 22, 2010

#SIL publishes the ISO-639-3 changes of 2009

Some of the newly published changes are significant for the Wikimedia Foundation; of particular interest is the recognition of the Latgalian language.

With the recognition by SIL, Latgalian is now eligible for a Wikipedia and at it now merits support as a language. So far Latgalian was considered to be a part of the Latvian language and as a consequence of the new situation, best practices have it that Latvian is now best expressed with the lvs or "standard Latvian" as the current lv / lav codes now refer to a macrolanguage.

#skype works for me again as it should

A functioning skype client is essential for me. Lately the version that came with Ubuntu did not work for me; the sound was broken. I un-installed skype and, eventually learned that skype is now hosted by skype itself. At first this made no difference at all; it was broken, it was awful.

Yesterday, I was notified that a new version of skype was available. I installed it and now it works as it should.. No more rebooting into Windows for me.
    GerardM gets its translation memory

Time is the most valuable resource at Everything is done to make our localisers and developers as efficient as possible. Yesterday, we improved the performance of our system thanks to netcup. Today we are really happy to extend our functionality with translation memory functionality.

A translation memory (TM) helps by suggesting a translation based on the work that has been done before. When you localise you get the suggestion what the translation might be and, this will make the process more efficient.

In order to make optimal use of this functionality, it helps when many applications share the same TM. This makes it easier to explain why is so interested in more open source applications to localise; not only gives it new challenges to our community, it also makes us more efficient.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010 is ready for new business

The conversion to the new server has finished. The DNS entry has been changed.. It can take a day for your ISP to reflect this change..

A big thank you to for supporting translatewiki and a big thank you to Siebrand and Niklas for the successful changeover.
     GerardM is being upgraded ....

Monday, January 18, 2010 preparing for an upgrade

With the number of languages, the number of applications, the number of messages per application but best of all the size of our community growing all the time, it is no wonder that the server capacity ,so graciously donated by netcup, did not fit our requirements any more. The scripts that update our statistics or update the source repositories started to take longer and longer. Our developers were fighting an up hill battle to keep our code sane, efficient and functional and consequently our system suffered.

There are solutions to such problems and, we are really happy to announce that Netcup has been so gracious to provide us with an improved service.

We will start the migration on the 19th of January at 18.00 UTC. The old service will go read only, and once we are done, we hope that you will come and see to what extend we can hammer our system localising some of the best Open Source software around.

If you are more interested to learn if we truly need this new service, you are welcome to peruse the bugs and feature requests and help us ensure that it will take a long time before we need another upgrade. On the other hand, with improved capacity, we may find new challenges for our community any way.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

#Tropenmuseum image most used in #wikimedia projects

One of the recent developments around the support to GLAMs is a tool by Magnus Manske called GLAMorous that shows how many images are used from a particular category on Commons.

When you aks for the details for the "Images of the Tropenmuseum", you will find that this image of the Governor-General Mr Andries Cornelis Dirk de Graeff is used 11 times. it is funy to find that the Wikipedias cannot agree among each other what his correct name is; Cornelis or Cornelies..

When you look at the most used images, you find that many of the pictures that have been so lovingly restored are doing really well. Another category that proves popular are part of the royalty of Indonesia, sultans, kings, princes, rayas...

The thing that surprises me most is that the Dutch Wikipedia makes most use of the material of the Tropenmuseum, this may change. I hope that the srn.wikipedia and the id.wikipedia will challenge the Dutch position ..

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Even more complete #Wikipedia statistics

The Wikipedia "Current status" report has become even more complete; it does now report on the localisation of MediaWiki as well.

In order to provide these statistics, some juggling of the numbers is in order; there are for instance languages with more then one localisation. A good example is Portuguese where we have a localisation that caters for the people from Brazil and one for Portugal. The "value" for these localisations is achieved by adding them up and diving by the number of localisations.

The localisation is expressed as a value from 1 to 100 and is comprised of three parts. The "most used" MediaWiki account for 40 points, MediaWiki core is another 30 points, the extensions used by the WMF is 30 points.

When you analyse these numbers, you will find that the "most used" messages are really important. This is only right because of their importance in the usability for a localisation.

What we hope for is that the real wizards will find the relation in numbers for the value of a great localisation for the popularity of our Wikipedias.. When you talk about it, it is obvious. It is however really hard to appreciate its true value.

Happy new year

Every year I receive seasons greetings, this one I received from Valerie, I know it is going to be a great year for her. I wish us all happiness, health and wealth for the comming year :)

The #signwriting extension for #mediawiki is getting ready

A lot of recent e-mails did not get the attention they deserved. I received one that makes me happy; it is by Valerie Sutton. It announces that the MediaWiki extension for SignWriting is ready.

SignWriting is a script that enables the writing of sign languages. Given that there are more then 100 sign languages, it is really important that these languages can be written. It is important because for many people, their sign language is their mother tongue and teaching people to read and write in their mother tongue benefits people for the whole of their academic life.

With the availability of a MediaWiki extension, it becomes finally possible to consider a Wikipedia in American Sign Language. Given that SignWriting is a top down language, an extension is required. Given that SignWriting is not supported in Unicode, an extension is required..

Normally when a request for a new language is made, there is a requirement for the localisation of the "most used" MediaWiki messages. Given that MediaWiki itself does not support a top down user interface, it makes sense to give dispensation for this requirement..

The next step will be to create an incubator for ASL. It will be interesting to learn how we will bring the signing world and the wiki world together !
      GerardM supports #wikia

The new year starts at with a bang: Wikia, is now supported for its localisation and internationalisation.

This is a big deal! Wikia is after the Wikimedia Foundation, the biggest user of the MediaWiki software. It hosts over 60,000 wikis, has over 3 million content pages and is with 30+ million visitors per month a top 100 world website.

With Wikia making use of, 68 MediaWiki new extensions are gaining internationalisation and localisation support. For Wikia this is in addition to the 24+ extensions that are already supported at

As you may know, the extensions developed by Wikia are as much Open Source as all the other MediaWiki extensions. With the internationalisation and localisation happening by the same community, the same best practices will be used. This means that plural and gender support will become available in the Wikia software, I am sure that this will have its impact on coding practices.

Languages like Kotava may now get active support. Wikia supports more languages, it will be interesting to see how they will be fitted in.

I hope that other companies who provide MediaWiki hosting or products will be interested, it is for them to consider their localisation support. What makes so valuable is its community. It is not easy to build your own.