Speaking at OpenSym + WikiSym 2013


During my last visit in Hong Kong I met a few of my usual friends and about 2 weeks later received an invitation to speak at the OpenSym + WikiSym 2013 which will be hosted in Hong Kong from 5 to 8 August 2013. Of course I’d thank Haggen for passing the message and the team behind the conference for the invitation.

I have decided to present my work with Open Education which happens to match the conference rather well (I was told), and will therefore summarize what has been done around Beijing since about 2006. The interesting part is that this project (named greenboard) covers a lot of different pieces ranging from hardware donation, curriculum design, using Free Software and customizing or translating the possible solution. It will of course talk about GNU/Linux, some of the GNOME and KDE educational applications we are using as well as putting it all together and allowing teachers to control the classroom. Since there will be researchers and communities flying from all over the world to participate for the event, I look forward to receiving good insights, get further ideas to improve what we have done so far and why not, expand to new territories.

As a side note the conference call for talks is still open, the submission deadline being on May 17, 2013. So feel free to either come and talk about something interesting or just drop by and say hi in early August if you are in town!

Basic rules for FOSS Localization

I have been spending some time reviewing a few FOSS educational software translations over the last months. Localization is a commitment if you want to do a good job; badly localized software leads to poor experience (people simply won’t use the software) and gives the wrong message that FOSS applications are just bad software. So if you thought localization was just pure translation, then you need to think again! Hopefully my experience will help more people to start a localization effort well prepared and be proud of the work they did.

Cultural adaptation and knowing who that software was written for are paramount in the process. I’ve put up a few rules together hoping it will help newcomers, if I missed anything please feel free to add yours in the comment section!

  1. Know your audience (the people using the software) and pick words that they can easily understand
  2. Have some knowledge in software terminology (if not, web search is your buddy)
  3. Be familiar with the software (try it out before translating it and don’t hesitate to use that software when you are doing the translation)
  4. Be more than fluent in the target language and good enough in the original language (not the other way round)
  5. Don’t be afraid to change the meaning in order to fit cultural differences (e.g. for Rur-ple, we picked a meaningful Chinese robot name rather than doing a phonetic conversion: names must have meaning in Chinese for people and more specifically children to remember)
  6. Use the same terms across the whole software (either by proof reading or with the help of localization tools like Poedit and OmegaT)
  7. Have someone good enough in both languages to review your work and hopefully familiar with the software (he needs to use the software not just read the text)
  8. Fixes, typo corrections and improvements from the source language need to be fed back to the original project in order to help improve the overall quality of the software and all its translation
  9. Keep track of changes and reasons behind so that can be useful for other languages
  10. Have the passion and the time to commit to do a good work 🙂

Wende School Project – Part 5 (Localized TuxTyping)

We have been looking for a Free and Open Source typing application for kids for quite some time. We found TuxTyping appealing and decided to localize the interface and the 43 typing exercises that come with it into Chinese. TuxTyping is an educational typing tutor for kids starring Tux, the Linux penguin. This educational game comes with two different games for practicing typing, and allows you to create exercises according to students needs. Of course we already brought this good news to Wende School. After two hours of training, Miss Liu  was already mastering TuxTyping. She will incorporate it into the school program starting from 2010.

Fred is now submitting the Chinese version upstream to make it available for everybody.  The TuxTyping developers have been very responsive and helpful with our translation problems and fixing minor bugs we found. We are now even working with them to make it workable for Chinese input method, as only pinyin typing is available currently. Hopefully we will have something ready to test soon.

In no time thanks to volunteers and passionate people like us, we went from nothing available in Chinese to a great looking software that will even deal with the Chinese language specificities. That’s the reason why I love Open Source; its community and its spirit definitely ROCK!

TuxTyping is an educational typing tutor for kids starring Tux, the Linux penguin!
TuxTyping is an educational typing tutor for kids starring Tux, the Linux penguin.
There are four different kinds of typing games for kids to practise typing.
There are four different kids of typing games for kids to practise typing.
This is "Feeding Tux with fish"
Tux the penguin is hungry, and loves to eat fish. But Tux can only catch the fish if you type the right letters in time!
There are over 40 exercises learning the finger position of each letter and punctuation