Jun 14, 2024

Substack in #xl8 & #l10n

 As related in my last post, I've been testing the Substack platform as an alternative means for distributing and managing the kind of information I've published for many years now on this blog, professional sites and social media, course authoring platforms, YouTube, Xitter, Mastodon and probably a few other channels I've forgotten. And I'm quite surprised to find any expectations I had to be exceeded at this point. On the whole I can do a better job of creating accessible tutorials and other reference information there, and there is far less effort involved with maintenance, style sheet fiddling and whatnot.

All my various projects there can be found here on my profile page.

Currently, these are the
Other plans include The Diary and Letters of Charles Berry Senior, a US Civil War veteran from Yorkshire, England, who participated in Sherman's march to the sea and who is my great-great grandfather. Some of his records exist in very deteriorated form in a university archive in the United States and can be found online, but much is missing, and I am in possession of the complete transcript prepared by one of the man's daughters more than 100 years ago when the family feared the information would be lost to the forces of material decay. I'll be preparing clean text from her handwritten record (the typescript done by a cousin about 50 years ago was lost and probably contains more errors) and probably an audio reading. There's some hard stuff there, as well as some surprises and interesting lessons in how our world has changed in the past 160 years.

And at some point I'll probably share some of my culinary obsessions as well as what life was like traveling on the other side of the Iron Curtain sans papers or in dingy Paris bookshops and refugee hotels 40 years ago and more.

This past week, I've done a big blitz on memoQ LiveDocs, for which there are still another dozen or so drafts to be finished, and a lot of stuff from my CAT tools resource online class from last year should be appearing there in updated form in due course. There isn't a lot of translation-related activity that I've found on Substack, at least not for the technical side of things, but a lot of historians and authors I follow are very present there, so I'm hoping the better half of my translation technologist friends will join the Substack party at some point.

Most of my new text, video and teaching content will appear on those Substack channels. It's simply far easier to manage, and there you won't have the same RSS headaches you might have here. And the damned editor of Google Blogger just keeps accumulating bugs I don't have to cope with in Substack. And don't get me started on bloody Wordpress!

I hope to see you in my Substack channels soon! I think there will be something like a memoQ QA course there before the summer is over....

Jun 2, 2024

A change of platform?


As some readers of this blog may already know, recently I have begun to use the Substack platform for some of my writing. But why?

This blog and my YouTube channel have become, over the course of about 16 years now, leading sources of information for a variety of technology topics related to translation and localization, not all of them having to do with memoQ. As well as a venue for other personal and professional expression. I've also got a presence on a few e-learning platforms and sporadic participation in several microblogging platforms.

The online professional landscape for language services has evolved so much in the past two decades that it is often rather difficult to determine the best messaging venues for educational content for working professionals, Quersteiger aspirants and students. To a large and unfortunate extent, a lot of the relevant discussions take place on commercial platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn, where the content is quickly buried in the infamous, often preposterous noise of those spaces. There is also the problem of curation, which was one of the reasons this blog was founded back in 2008 after Proz dot comjob lost its value as a professional space with the imposition of extreme censorship and expulsion of its most experienced and helpful community members, many of them former moderators.

Because of this fragmentation of the translation information space, I often find myself spending too much time digging up old (free) information for people with limited search skills or motivation, and in doing so I recognize time and again how much user interfaces for my professional tools have changed over the years, which also poses navigation problems for those who wish to apply the lessons. Menus are now ribbons, many functions have been renamed or moved to other places in the application, or new features have made some of the old solutions less relevant except for those still using very old software (and there are still many of these, which is why I am careful about "updates").

And several times in the past year, I've been contacted by blog readers who had difficulties getting an RSS feed for this blog, which is apparently a rather oldtimey thing now.

So... in the past few years, I noticed that several authors whom I follow use the Substack platform (the historians Timothy Snyder and Heather Cox Richardson, also professor Marco Neves at Universidade Nova de Lisboa FCSH, whom I think of as a "Portuguese John McWhorter", and John McWhorter himself). A brief investigation on my part revealed several advantages to this, including fairly painless ways to organize a mix of free and paid content. So I decided to experiment.

After a month now, I would say I am largely pleased as a user of the website and iPhone app. I am still learning the best practices for using insertable buttons and unexpected features like "Notes" and "Threads", probably making more mistakes than I realize, but this does appear to be a good platform for tying together the rather scattered educational content I've been producing for more than two decades now and adding updates to these summaries. And perhaps the venue will prove more useful for discussions, more so than social media where they are quickly buried in platform noise.

I'm not abandoning this blog nor YouTube. There will still be content posted on both which may never appear in any form on the Translation Tribulations Substack. But that's probably the best place to look for now if you need current overviews of language service technology topics or you want a peek at some of my course content tests or textbook-related projects. I may post occasional pointers here on the blog to content on Substack, but the (free) subscription mechanism there is really a much better way (than RSS here, for example) to keep up to date.

So won't you join me?

Apr 11, 2024

English for Ukraine!


Recently I discovered an online volunteer opportunity that is worth sharing. The war in Ukraine is in its tenth year now, with the escalation of a full-scale orcish invasion now in the third year. The current phase of the conflict is particularly worrisome, with Putin's agents in the US Congress successfully holding up needed assistance for six months now. Ultimately, Ukraine will prevail despite the cowardice and complicity of the criminally insane and terminally stupid in a number of governments that should be solidly allied with the defenders. 

There are many things that ordinary citizens can do to support the sovereignty and democracy of our Ukrainian friends. If you're into direct support of the military response to ruZZian aggression, Estonian blogger Artur Rehi has done good things with fundraising for vehicles and drones, which you can learn about on his website. For those concerned with the morale and psychological health of children, British children's author and illustrator Debbie Howard has an ongoing program to put books in the hands of kids to help them deal with the disturbing experiences of war, and support for that effort is very welcome. These are just a few of the options on my personal readar, and there are many more.

There are many narratives in the Ukrainian defense against imperialist aggression from the orcs of Putin's cesspit and from the growth of a democratic, multicultural civil society in Ukraine, but the ones that matter most are those from the Ukrainians themselves. The voices there matter and should be heard, and to facilitate that, I am pleased for the opportunity to support individual Ukrainians, children and adults, to improve their communication skills in the international language English so they can become ever more a part of our circles of culture, trade and friendship.

For years now, the ENGin volunteer program has coordinated the pairing of "language buddies" to improve the English conversation skills of people in Ukraine to help their academic and professional development and support them in talking to their many friends and future friends abroad. Recently, the program has also expanded to include assistance for civil servants in Ukraine, which is the particular effort for which I have recently become a volunteer.

When I underwent training for this volunteer effort, I saw people from many countries, continents and native language backgrounds who were committed to helping Ukraine speak to the world. Won't you join us?