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Posts Tagged ‘open standards

Yes! You, too, can use Free Software and Succeed as a Freelance Translator

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This past weekend new versions were released of two Free software programs very important for translators, OmegaT, CAT program (Computer Aided Translation), and Anaphraseus, another CAT program, both Free (as in speech) and free (as in beer).
OmegaT, developed in Java, is the CAT program is most used by translators in the Free Software community, and has been used in translation and localization of other important Free Software projects such as OpenOffice.org, the complete, Free, office suite. It is rather distinct from other CAT programs, broadly useful, with ample functions and the ability to deal with a wide variety of files formats, including all those most common to the translation industry, such as all MSOffice® file formats, various software localization formats, and, of course, all Open Document Format files. In addition, OmegaT works with the standard translation memory format, TMX (Translation Memory eXchange).
Anaphraseus CAT works similarly to another, proprietary CAT program, Wordfast®, in its earlier incarnations, but as a macro in OpenOffice.org, not with MSOffice®, as does Wordfast. Anaphraseus developed in StarBasic, is important because it allows translators who are users of free software to provide their customers “unclean” .doc or .rtf files, a bilingual word processing file (containing both, the source and target languages), widely used in the translation industry. With both these tools, translators using only free software are able to compete with those who work with proprietary products that dominate the industry. Both programs are cross-platform, able to run in GNU/Linux, Mac or Windows.
I announced the release of these new versions over the past several days, but today, I’m taking the time to elaborate again on these release, because I believe these programs are extremely important. I’ve already discussed why I believe open document formats are important at some length, but it is a topic I am likely to revisit, and my original article touching on the matter is, as I see it, a work in progress. I’m certain I will continue to revise and update that article and repost it from time to time. Why freedom of information and open standards are important in my industry, translation, should, as I see it, require little explanation.
Now, my industry, translation, like so many others, is dominated by the use of propietary software tools, such as Trados® and Wordfast@, and inundated with the widespread use of MSOffice®. That’s no surprise and no secret. Many translators, in fact, believe that you simply can’t work successfully in our industry without MSOffice® and Trados® or Wordfast®, and I’m living proof that the notion is completely erroneous. I’ve been working as a freelance translator now for half a decade, and using only Free Software on my computers for a full decade, and my family eats three square meals a day. My three most used programs are the above mentioned, OmegaT, Anaphraseus, and OpenOffice.org (the 4th being a web browser, for research and to communicate with clients, providers, etc., and fifth being mocp to listen to music while I work. Seriously. But that’s a matter for another article). I work for private clients, government agencies, school systems, and large translation warehouse agencies, the vast majority of whom use the popular proprietary products mentioned above. I’ve never had any difficulty due to lack of compatibility, and have always been able to deliver the product that my clients have demanded of me. Furthermore, it is my belief that I can do so more efficiently using the Free Software I use, especially since I use them with a GNU/Linux operating system. My system is secure, stable, and efficient. It uses fewer resources than popular proprietary operating systems, doesn’t fall prey to the hordes of viruses and attacks to which those other systems are so easily and frequently prey, has never crashed on me (seriously, not once), and is far more customizable and configurable, allowing me to set it up in the way that is more “ergonomic” and efficient for me, allowing me to work as efficiently as possible. I save time, not having to deal with AV software updates, fixing crashes, removing intrusions, etc. Heck, I never even have to reboot the darned thing. Another factor, and, in my opinion, this is probably the least important, but often the most touted in some circles, is that none of my software has cost me a penny. Seriously. I have powerful CAT tools and office tools for my translation work, all the web communication tools needed (e-mail, chat, voip), tools for managing the financial back end (some day I should write an article on gnucash), powerful image manipulation software (sometimes I edit images for clients), essentially, everything I need for my work. (I also have all the toys, games, multimedia software, etc., I could possibly ever not need to distract me when I should be working…).
A common proprietary operating system, cat program, and office suite, alone, would cost me in the neighborhood of US$1500.00. Proprietary image manipulation software would easily tack on another $700, and, let’s not forget that I’d have to pay for security tools to protect all my data, with regular AV updates, etc. I could easily spend US$3000.00 or more for the software I would need to do the work that I do, were I to use proprietary software tools. So, I’m not only more efficient in terms of time/energy waste maintaining my machine (able to focus more on work than maintenance…except when I’m blogging or facebooking), I’m also more efficient in terms of expenditure of financial resources, which enables me to pass the savings on to my clients, making, in fact, more competitive than my colleagues who use proprietary software tools.
Now, do I use Free (as in speech) Software just because it’s free as in beer)?
No. For me, the issues of freedom of information and open file format standards, and the freedom to control my own computer (not be licensed to use a product over which I have little control, and in a fashion that gives its creators rights over the software on MY machine) are FAR more important to me than price. In addition, the added efficiency and configurability I have with the Free Software I use are convenient and agree with me immensely. Nonetheless, I do feel that it’s worth mentioning the added financial advantage these tools bring.
With that, I will get back to work translating these Brazilian articles, and bid you good day.
./tony


originally posted to the baldwinsoftware blog.

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Written by tonybaldwin

February 23, 2010 at 2:29 pm

OBAMA ADMINSTRATION GIVES GREEN LIGHT TO OPEN FORMATS

with one comment

This just in from the ODF Alliance listserv:

“U.S. federal government agencies will soon be required to make information available in open formats. According to the Open Government Directive issued by the Obama Administration, each agency will be required to “take prompt steps to expand access to information by making it available online in open formats……..To the extent practicable and subject to valid restrictions, agencies should publish information online in an open format that can be retrieved, downloaded, indexed, and searched by commonly used web search applications.” An open format is defined in the directive as one that is platform independent, machine readable, and made available to the public without restrictions that would impede the re-use of that information. Within 45 days of the publication of the directive on 8 December 2009, each agency was required to identify and publish online in an open format at least three high-value data sets. Agencies are required to produce a first draft of an Open Government Plan by April 2010.”

For more info: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/assets/memoranda_2010/m10-06.pdf

Written by tonybaldwin

February 18, 2010 at 2:10 pm

A Layman's Thoughs on Freedom of Information and Open File Formats

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(a work in progress / originally penned in 2008, reposted here from mylivejournal)

Had the inventor of writing, if you will, demanded his rights in terms of the use of such a system, of course, anyone that wrote anything would owe him for use of this “intellectual property”. Thus, he would have a right to demand his fee for the conveyance of any information, of any nature, in a written form. This would mean, he would have control over any written communication. He would be able to control what information could be conveyed in writing, who could have access to that information, and, of course, he could
demand payment for any and every time information of any nature was conveyed in this fashion.

Let me just clarify that by being a bit more precise, while summing up the entire situation in general:
He would have control over the conveyance of any information in written form.
He would control information.

Anyone with such power, of course, would have immense, if not complete control over public opinion and knowledge. I think we can agree that such control centralized in the hands of one person would be A BAD THING. This individual could control religious thought, philosophy, the dissemination of scientific knowledge, etc., ad infinitum.

Now, consider even if Gutenburg had patented and copyrighted the printing press, and all printing of any matter would, again, be his to control.  Or perhaps, say one person controlled all rights to the use of paper (papyrus), when it was invented, and, thus, could control any use thereof and any matter that was printed or written on paper, etc. Control over any such process or media would put untold power in the hands of the individual possessing such power.
I think we can agree that such control centralized in one person (or one company) would be A BAD THING.

Freedom of information, freedom of expression and freedom to learn are, and I believe this is a widely enough held notion that nobody will argue the contrary, ESSENTIAL freedoms. Freedoms necessary to the advance of the human species, of knowledge, of culture and scientific progress.

This is why we need to have open standards for document formats, and why proprietary document formats are to be avoided.  This is why we should not allow specific software vendors to control the dispersion of information by allowing their proprietary document formats to become standard to any industry. Allowing them such control allows them control over that industry. They will have the ability to stifle choice of software use and will have control over the publication of knowledge.

In today’s digital, information age, if one individual or one company has control of the file formats in which information may be shared, or if one company or individual controls all software capable of accessing information in said formats, that individual or company has control of all information. Such a company could extort whatever price they wish for your use of their product and file formats. Such a company could refuse you license to use their product and their file formats if they disagree with or dislike the information you wish to share, even.

This is pretty well the case when speaking of the current situation in reference to various industries where certain proprietary software vendors have cornered the market, often by untoward means and with inferior products, and stifled the people’s right to choice. This is why you spend $300 on Microsoft Windows, and $500 on Microsoft Office, and have to pay again for them to fix these inferior software products when they fail on you. This is why translators are almost unanimously being forced to use SDL’s Trados and Tag Editor. I assume the situation is similar on other industries (graphics/publishing, etc.) Choice is stifled when a vendor controls a market.

This is why document formats such as:
Microsoft’s .doc, .wmp or OOXML,
SDL’s .ttx,
Thomson’s mp3,
and other proprietary formats, specific to one software vendor, are harmful, and to be not only avoided, but completely eschewed in favor of open document formats, such as .odf, .tmx, .xliff, .xml, .html, and .ogg.
Understand, I am in no way advocating an end to intellectual property rights. Certainly, those who create works of art, software, literature, music, etc., have a right to their creations.
What I am advocating is free access to information and the means of manipulating and conveying information.

Relevant links:

tony

Written by tonybaldwin

February 18, 2010 at 2:22 am

A Layman's Thoughts on Freedom of Information and Open File Formats

with 6 comments

(a work in progress / originally penned in 2008, reposted here from mylivejournal)

Had the inventor of writing, if you will, demanded his rights in terms of the use of such a system, of course, anyone that wrote anything would owe him for use of this “intellectual property”. Thus, he would have a right to demand his fee for the conveyance of any information, of any nature, in a written form. This would mean, he would have control over any written communication. He would be able to control what information could be conveyed in writing, who could have access to that information, and, of course, he could
demand payment for any and every time information of any nature was conveyed in this fashion.

Let me just clarify that by being a bit more precise, while summing up the entire situation in general:
He would have control over the conveyance of any information in written form.
He would control information.

Anyone with such power, of course, would have immense, if not complete control over public opinion and knowledge. I think we can agree that such control centralized in the hands of one person would be A BAD THING. This individual could control religious thought, philosophy, the dissemination of scientific knowledge, etc., ad infinitum.

Now, consider even if Gutenburg had patented and copyrighted the printing press, and all printing of any matter would, again, be his to control.  Or perhaps, say one person controlled all rights to the use of paper (papyrus), when it was invented, and, thus, could control any use thereof and any matter that was printed or written on paper, etc. Control over any such process or media would put untold power in the hands of the individual possessing such power.
I think we can agree that such control centralized in one person (or one company) would be A BAD THING.

Freedom of information, freedom of expression and freedom to learn are, and I believe this is a widely enough held notion that nobody will argue the contrary, ESSENTIAL freedoms. Freedoms necessary to the advance of the human species, of knowledge, of culture and scientific progress.

This is why we need to have open standards for document formats, and why proprietary document formats are to be avoided.  This is why we should not allow specific software vendors to control the dispersion of information by allowing their proprietary document formats to become standard to any industry. Allowing them such control allows them control over that industry. They will have the ability to stifle choice of software use and will have control over the publication of knowledge.

In today’s digital, information age, if one individual or one company has control of the file formats in which information may be shared, or if one company or individual controls all software capable of accessing information in said formats, that individual or company has control of all information. Such a company could extort whatever price they wish for your use of their product and file formats. Such a company could refuse you license to use their product and their file formats if they disagree with or dislike the information you wish to share, even.

This is pretty well the case when speaking of the current situation in reference to various industries where certain proprietary software vendors have cornered the market, often by untoward means and with inferior products, and stifled the people’s right to choice. This is why you spend $300 on Microsoft Windows, and $500 on Microsoft Office, and have to pay again for them to fix these inferior software products when they fail on you. This is why translators are almost unanimously being forced to use SDL’s Trados and Tag Editor. I assume the situation is similar on other industries (graphics/publishing, etc.) Choice is stifled when a vendor controls a market.

This is why document formats such as:

  • Microsoft’s .doc, .wmp or OOXML,
  • SDL’s .ttx,
  • Thomson’s mp3,
  • Adobe .pdf

and other proprietary formats, specific to one software vendor, are harmful, and to be not only avoided, but completely eschewed in favor of open document formats created according to open standards, such as .odf, .tmx, .xliff, .xml, .html, .djvu and .ogg .

Understand, I am in no way advocating an end to intellectual property rights. Certainly, those who create works of art, software, literature, music, etc., have a right to their creations.
What I am advocating is free access to information and the means of manipulating and conveying information.

What are open standards?
From Free Software Foundation, Europe:

Definition

An Open Standard refers to a format or protocol that is

  1. subject to full public assessment and use without constraints in a manner equally available to all parties;
  2. without any components or extensions that have dependencies on formats or protocols that do not meet the definition of an Open Standard themselves;
  3. free from legal or technical clauses that limit its utilisation by any party or in any business model;
  4. managed and further developed independently of any single vendor in a process open to the equal participation of competitors and third parties;
  5. available in multiple complete implementations by competing vendors, or as a complete implementation equally available to all parties.

Relevant links:

tony

  1. click here for a copy of this article in the free/open document format .djvu
  2. click here for a copy of this article in open document text format .odt

Written by tonybaldwin

February 18, 2010 at 2:22 am

Oggify (improved)

with one comment

Aside from any argument over which audio file format is best (I like FOSS, thus ogg), I reworked my oggify script, attempting to implement what I learned from comments at

Oggify (improved)

Written by tonybaldwin

September 4, 2008 at 11:56 pm

Oggify… converting all your wav and mp3 to ogg

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I have too many wav and mp3 files, really.
I mean wav files are BIG.
And mp3 files suck, and are a proprietary format.
So, I wanted to convert ALL of my tunes to ogg-vorbis format,
a lossless open source audio file format.

So, I wrote this:

#!/bin/bash

# convert mp3 and wav to ogg
# copyright tonytraductor / http://www.BaldwinSoftware.com
# released under the terms of the Gnu Public License v.2 or later.
# no promises…if it breaks something, call your mom…

echo “Oggify, at your service.”

# removing spaces in names or
## mp3s

echo “Removing spaces in names…”

for i in $(ls -1 *.mp3)
do
rename \ _ *.mp3
done

## and wavs

for i in $(ls -1 *.wav)
do
rename \ _ *.wav
done

echo “Converting mp3 files to wav…”

# converting all mp3 files to wav,
#so there will be nothing but wavs

for i in $(ls -1 *.mp3)
do
n=$i
mpg123 -w “$n.wav” “$n”
done

# stripping the .mp3 extension from filename.mp3.wav

for i in $(ls -1 *.wav)
do
rename .mp3. . *.wav
done

# clean up as we go

rm -f *.mp3

# and, now, converting those wav files to ogg

echo “Converting wav to ogg…”

for i in *.wav
do
oggenc $i
done

# more clean up

echo “Removing mp3 and wav files…”

# removing all those big, fat wav files.

rm -f *.wav

echo “Your oggs are all fresh and toasty and ready to enjoy, friend.”
echo “Happy listening!”

exit

I had written a gui version, too, with zenity, but, bah…
Who needs a gui?

Written by tonybaldwin

September 1, 2008 at 6:23 pm