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Really, Chrome? September 24, 2011

Posted by globalizer in Language, QA, Translation, Unicode.
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With the terrible bloat in Firefox, I have recently been trying to get used to Chrome. I am having a really hard time, though. I appreciate the attempt to create an uncluttered interface, but please – within limits!

Once I finally managed to find the settings, I had to hunt around for ever to find the setting for default encoding. I first looked under Basics, but no luck. Went on to Advanced Options, and found no specific setting there. The Languages and Spell checker button seemed the most likely, but no, I didn’t find it there either.

Where does it hide? Under “Customize Fonts…”, of course.

If I were using the English language UI, I might actually have thought that location far-fetched, but not totally outlandish. Since I am using the Danish language version, however, the connection is just completely impossible to make:

The Danish button says “Customize font sizes…”.  And while it is true that good translations cannot be word-for-word translations, in this case my advice to the Danish translator would be to stay a little closer to the source text.

Another case where the Danish translation would benefit from a few changes:

The first sentence (Det ser ud som om, at du er flyttet”) is not wrong, but it would sound a lot more natural without the “at”. And the second one is just plain wrong – again, a superfluous “at”.  Otherwise the translation looks pretty good. And my main question is actually not about the translation at all; all of this has just been throat clearing leading up to this:

Why on earth is the out-of-the-box default encoding still set to ISO-8859-1 for all the Western European languages, and to various other legacy encodings for languages using other scripts? With Unicode (UTF-8) having surpassed 50% of the web by now?

When having a web site is worse than not having one October 10, 2009

Posted by globalizer in QA, web applications.

In this day and age it is really a requirement for practically any serious business of just middling size to have a web presence. Not just for visibility and marketing purposes, but to save money. If users are able to complete most of their interaction with a company via self service online you not only get happier customers but you also save a boatload of money on customer service.

However, this of course assumes that you have the wits to implement a customer web experience that doesn’t look as if it were implemented by middle school students (and I apologize in advance to the many middle school students who wouldn’t dream of making rookie mistakes like these):

  • Implement a web form that only works with IE
  • Don’t provide any clues whatsoever to users of oh, let’s say Firefox, that you don’t support their browser. No message, no visual indication that there is an error, nada
  • Don’t ask the user to re-enter the chosen password for confirmation – but of course have 2 of the “security questions” that infect US-based web sites like the plague
  • Don’t provide any option for the user to change the mailing address online, thus requiring a call to customer service any way

That’s just the first 4 obvious and insanely annoying things about the Chase HSA online service that I signed up for because I wanted to change my mailing address. Which it turns out I can’t do online…

Crowd-translations (or community translations) revisited January 7, 2007

Posted by globalizer in Danish, Language, Localization, QA, Translation.
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Back here I posted about the advantages and drawbacks of using volunteer translators for your projects. I used Netvibes to illustrate some of the potential pitfalls associated with this approach, and I should note that I did send a feedback from the Netvibes web site to make them aware of my posting. I have not heard back, and the Danish translation has not changed – I will be keeping an eye on it to see if they react at all.

I also wanted to add a consideration I neglected to mention in my original post:

Since most Danes know English well enough to be able to use a site like Netvibes in that language (even more true for the segment of the population that is liable to use such a site than for the population in general), I suspect that they will be more intolerant of poor translations than people from countries with lower levels of competency in English. If it’s a choice between having access to a service with some linguistic warts and not being able to use the service, then you are probably not going to complain too much about the warts. If, on the other hand, you have a choice between using an English version and a Danish version with obvious cosmetic problems, I believe a fair number of Danish users will gravitate towards the English version.

That would not be a big deal if it didn’t also result in a more negative perception of the web site and the company behind it. I would love to see some empirical investigation of this question, along the lines of this one from Common Sense Advisory. That survey showed a preference for native language in a number of countries, but to answer my question the following parameters would have to be added:

  • survey a country like Denmark or the Netherlands, where a larger proportion of the population understands English at the level required to be comfortable using web sites in that language
  • ask about translation quality

The pros and cons of community translations January 1, 2007

Posted by globalizer in Danish, Language, Localization, QA, Translation.

I just found Netvibes over the Christmas holidays (I know, I know – hopelessly behind the cutting edge…). That prompted me to dig out this draft on community translation that I have had sitting around for a while. And I want to say up front that while I use Netvibes as an example of not quite successful localization into Danish, the site and its services seem very useful at first glance.

Alongside the increasing popularity of open source projects has come an increase in community translation projects – software translation performed not by paid translation professionals, but by volunteers. And this process has been used not just by open source software projects, but also by “regular” closed source projects and by well-known companies such as Google.

This raises an interesting question: why don’t all software companies take advantage of such “free translations”?

There are probably a number of answers, (more…)

The importance of proofreading November 25, 2006

Posted by globalizer in QA.
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From job posting:

As Localization Lead you will manage and lead the localization testing process for various languages, create and update required localization testing docs, coordinate and surprise the translation vendor work (3rd party doing translation) quality & production.

Yes, there’s nothing like surprising your vendors – it keeps them on their toes 🙂