10 December 2008

Copy - Paste (not Cut) files

After last week's post I tried using the Finder's copy & paste functions to move files around.

One thing the struck me is that there is not cut function. Well, there is the delete function but you can't copy files and simultaneously delete them from their location.

I discovered the reason this morning...

When you copy a file in Finder, OSX does not seem to burden itself to load all the data in memory. It only seems to register the file location.

So, if you copy the files, delete them now because you could as well do it now instead of having to come back here later, and then try to paste them somewhere, OSX will complain that the files are missing. Indeed, there are in the Trash...

The correct order is thus to copy the files, paste them in their new location, go back to the original location and delete them...

It would seem to me that the smarter way to implement that would be to not remember their actual path, but to put a flag on the files, similar to an alias, so as to track the files if they move or are removed, before being pasted to their new location...


I just found this hint on MaoOSX Hints: Use Quicksilver for Finder cut and paste .

04 December 2008

Copy files to...

I may have missed something but I have yet to find an easy way to copy a set of files to an arbitrary place on my disk.

I think Windows people have this. They right-click on a file and they have a "send to" item so that they can copy the file(s) to any place they want.

I've been playing with Automator recently so I just spent an hour or so to create a "Copy Files To..." Automator application that I also saved as a Finder plug-in.

I've put the application into the File section of the Google group "attached" to this blog. I think you can open it in Automator (I created it on OSX 10.5.5) and use "File > Save As Plugin" to install it as a Finder contextual menu (in which case it will be saved under ~/Library/Workflows/Applications).

The application works like this:

1) You select items in the Finder
2) You call the application, either with Spotlight or with the context menu (bottom item: "More" > "Automator" > "Copy Files To...")
3) You select/create the destination (a folder)
4) The selected files are copied - and are not allowed to overwrite existing files
5) The destination folder opens

It looks like Automator applications are relatively slow to launch so for a small application like that I am not sure this is the best technology...

I am reading a tutorial book to Applescript (Applescript Studioでゼンマイびゅんびゅん!!) and I'm sure I'll be able to write an equivalent thing directly in Applescript in a few days, if work allows for that...


Thank you for the replies on the Google Group and comments here where OnMyCommand, but also Applescript solutions and also, simply, Cmd+C/Cmd+V inside Finder were suggested.

Automator applications, by the way they seem to be implemented, seem to be most useful when they are used a number of times in a row. WHen they are used once in a while, it seems that the time they load into memory (?) kinds of defeat the purpose of creating a simple action.

I still have a hard time figuring out what Automator can be best used for, since obviously, most file management tricks will be executed much faster from the Terminal...

17 September 2008

Backing up your data...

After yesterday's "rsync update" post, I decided to do some serious reading on the subject and here are the interesting pages that I found.

First of all, even before considering the method you'll choose, what matters is the reliability of the backed up data. In other words, how much of your data and its meta-data is saved in the process.

I found a terrific post on the subject on the http://blog.plasticsfuture.org/ blog. The author tries pretty much all the existing free solutions at the time of his writing (10.4.6) and checks how the data is handled by the various tools. The result is "The State of Backup and Cloning Tools under Mac OS X". It is quite technical, you've been warned. The results are appalling. When seen from his perspective.

This post and its follow-up, "Mac Backup Software Harmful" seem to have caused quite a stir in the OSX back up software world and it seems a number of the tools discussed have been fixed to a degree. For a more relaxing but still related read, check File Creation Dates on Mac OS X: Clash of the Cultures from the same author about the conservation of the file creation date data. The post is very interesting because it shows two totally different approaches to what a "creation date" is supposed to mean depending on different ideas of what a file is.

In reaction to the two original plasticsfuture posts comes "Introducing Backup Bouncer", where the author introduces a test suite to easily compare the original data to the back up.

When you've read all this you should know quite a bit more about the issues at hand.

For a totally different approach, but still in reaction to the plasticsfuture articles, inik.net has a more pragmatic article: "Ensuring trouble-free backups from your Mac to not-a-Mac" followed by "File copying/synchronization software and your metadata (and data!)".

By the way, before you reach this point, you may want to know what you are actually backing up... What is a file in the OSX world and its underlying Unixy universe ? For that you may want to check Google Books and their limited preview of "A practical guide to Unix for Mac OS X users, by Mark G. Sobell, Peter Seebach. Check the Table of Contents, "The Mac OSX File System" and browse down to page 99 (if you have a better reference available on the net, leave a comment).

Now, here are two pages that give a good summary of the situation, in terms that most of us will understand. The first is Take Control of Mac OS X Backups: The Online Appendixes from TidBits, and the second is Mac OS X Backups (can't get much simpler than that...) from "Seth's Unix Tips". You may want to read his take on Unix files too.

The conclusion of all this is that, depending on your needs you'll have to make a choice. Don't forget that Leopard comes with Time Machine, which creates hourly incremental backups of the data you specify. So, if you need something different then here is my short list:

GUI application

SuperDuper, to "backup and clone your drives". The application is not free software but comes with a limited version that won't cost you anything.

rsync based command line applications

Configuring Mac OS X for Unattended Backup Using rsync
Easy Automated Snapshot-Style Backups with Linux and Rsync
rsnapshot (based on the previous link)
LBackup (similar to rsnapshot), check the "Alternatives to LBackup" section for more links, as well as its rsync tips page.



Is that all there is to backing up one's data ?

There must be a number of rules available from somewhere on the web regarding data backup...

The few I have in mind are:

  • Back up regularly. Time Machine does that every hour and that is a good thing. If you don't have an automated solution, do that manually every single day. But you do have an automated solution on you Mac. It is a command line utility that is called cron, and if the command line is really too much for you, check cron's GUI wrapper "Cronnix, you'll still need to understand a few things but you won't have to play with Terminal.app.

  • Check the integrity of your data regularly (like once a week), by simply taking a look at it, opening a few files at random see if they correspond to what you expect them to be etc...

  • Test the recovery process once in a while. Backed up data is useless if it can't be recovered. This test is to make sure you remember the method and to ensure that the restored data is in a useable state.

  • Do your back up on an external media, pretty obvious, a possibly a media that is physically removed from you data source (the computer). Most modern external HDs can be linked to your machine with relatively long cables. You can also use wireless connections to access that disk etc.

  • If you have extra cash, get a backup computer to make sure that you can use the restored data while your main computer is being fixed. Because it is very likely that a major computer failure will be the main reason why you'll need to restore your data. Now what if you have data to restore but no computer to restore it to ?
I think that is pretty much everything I have to say on the subject for today. You may want to take a look at this old post where I discuss what happens when Time Machine saves your application folders and Spotlight indexes all that...

16 September 2008

Software updates !

Free software

NeoOffice has turned 2.2.5

NeoOffice is a free software replacement for Microsoft Office and other similar office suites. It is based on OpenOffice.org.

VirtualBox has turned 2.0.2

VirtualBox is a free software replacement for Parallels and VMWare and other similar virtualization software.

rsync has turned 3.0.4

rsync is a command line utility to backup your files on a remote system. It does smart incremental backups so that you don't have to copy huge file sets when only a few files have been modified. rsync finds the modified parts and will add only the modified part to the original backup.
rsync 2.6.9 is installed by default on OSX 10.5.

05 August 2008

Accented letters and other symbols on the Mac

This is a complement to Corinne McKay's latest blog post "Inserting accented characters in OpenOffice.org". Since Corinne focuses on Linux users I thought I'd rather add Mac specific information here.

Mac OSX comes with system wide shortcuts that work in any version of the OS. And if I remember well, the shortcuts were here well before OSX.

It is possible to use them in any text editing location (a web browser field, your email, your favorite office suite, even the terminal).

To check how to enter a character that is suspiciously missing from your keyboard, you need to display the Keyboard Viewer utility, a small window that will show you where is the key that will input that character on the keyboard you are using (if you have a laptop with an external keyboard like me, the viewer will adapt its display to correspond to the keyboard you are actually typing with, as you type).

If you are used to run a strictly monolingual system (surprising for a translator), you may need to go to System Preferences -> International -> Input Menu and to check the little Show input menu in the menu bar box at the bottom of the window. Also, make sure that the Keyboard Viewer box is checked in the above list of displayable items.

Once that is done, you should have a menu bar item that displays a flag that should correspond to your default keyboard setting.

Ok. So, where are the shortcuts now ?

For your information, I use the US standard keyboard, other keyboard layouts will allow for other shortcuts (see Paul's comment on the US Extended keyboard's available characters).

Go to the flag menu, select Show Keyboard Viewer and you'll see a copy of the keyboard you are typing with displayed on your main screen.

Now, type a few lines with your keyboard and you'll see the viewer react to each key you've used: it will display each key as depressed as you type it.

Now, hold the command key and check the viewer: you'll see the viewer's command key(s) depressed but nothing more.

Do that with the alt/option key. What you see should be a little more interesting. You should have a few keys that totally change of appearance. On my keyboard, q turns into œ, for example.

Which means that if you want to type œ in your text, just use alt+q. Œ would then be shift+alt+q.

That is for direct input. What about accents ?

If you press alt you will probably see a few key that turn orange. Like alt+e. They turn orange and display an accent. alt+e displays the acute accent.

If you type alt+e, OSX will insert an acute accent at the location of the cursor but the accent will be displayed with a brownish background: OSX is waiting for you to type the letter that will go under the accent. If you type e then you'll have a nice é at the location of the cursor.

On my keyboard, the possible combinations are:


You can also have direct input for pretty much all the characters in use in European languages thanks to this system. If you need more, just go back to International -> Input Menu, add the language you need (there is a huge lot of languages available directly on the Mac) and select it from the flag menu when you want to use it.

With the US standard keyboard, I use shift+alt+2 a lot for , alt+c (and shift+alt+c) for ç (and Ç) as well as a few others.

If you need something very exotic and you don't want to change of input system/keyboard layout (the flag menu thing), you can also access the Character Palette (don't forget to check its box in Input Menu above).

Here, the system provides you with a way to access all the characters available from all the fonts present on your system. Select an appropriate drop down menu from the top left, then a category from the section below, browse the space on the right side of the window. You can search a character by name in the search field at the bottom right. Enter note and look at the possibility offered by your fonts.

The action drop down menu at the bottom left allows you to search for the character that is selected in the front application.

Of course, the whole input system is available system-wide and works in pretty much all the applications that run on OSX.

Caveat: applications that depend on the X11 windowing environment may not respect the OSX conventions and will sometimes not accept such input.

OOXML on the Mac (update)

I have edited and updated the "Office 2007 files on Mac" post to reflect the release of the recent Office 2004 update and the beta version of StarOffice:

Office 2007 files (.docx, .xlsx, .pptx) on Mac

StarOffice 9 beta for Mac

It looks like Sun Microsystems is making good use of the work of all the volunteers who made OpenOffice.org run on OSX without X11 (i.e. in OSX speak: like a normal OSX application...)

The beta version is available, with the StarOffice logo instead of the OpenOffice.org one.

I have downloaded the beast but if everything is business as usual, we should not see much differences between the 2 suites, except for a few proprietary things added to the StarOffice version.

http://www.sun.com/software/staroffice/get_beta.jsp (185 mb)
What's new:

http://download.openoffice.org/3.0beta/ (157 mb)
What's new:

Also, NeoOffice is still running behind in term of code base but has recently released a patch for its 2.2.4 version:

31 May 2008

Spaces in 10.5.3

You must be aware that Leopard's latest update, 10.5.3, has been released a few days ago. There are many comments and analysis on the web among which you can find how the bug fixes amount to new features implementation... One of the apps that greatly benefited from such bugfixes is Spaces.

In terms of productivity, Space was one of the features from which power users expected a lot. But it was not fully useable until the 10.5.3 release as John Gruber of DaringFireball writes.

07 May 2008

OpenOffice.org 3.0 Beta available !

It is official, OpenOffice.org 3.0 Beta version is available for download.

The feature list is here and you'll be glad to know that support for Microsoft 2007 file format (OOXML) is now a reality !

Also, OpenOffice.org for Mac is now an Aqua application that does not require the X11 windowing environment. Those of you who don't know what that means are blessed !

The stable version is planned for release in September. Although the free office suite is still not considered stable, it is stable enough for most of your non-mission critical work. I've been using test versions of 3.0 for a while now and I have been very pleased with it. I've noticed that it is significantly faster than NeoOffice at launch too.

Feel free to download it from here.

27 April 2008

Text alignment on Mac

When you start a translation, it is important to prepare your reference materials so that you can use them in the most efficient way possible.

Computer Aided Translation (CAT) tools have a special way to do that. They can use translation memories (TM) that contain source and target language information that will be matched against the source text to provide translation suggestions.

Using translation memories has two major benefits. The first is that any text present in the memory and also in a similar form in the file to translate can see its TM translation be recycled in your work. The other benefit is that the translation memory, if properly used will increase the style consistency of your final work.

Creating TMs is also called aligning bilingual texts. The end format will depend on your CAT flavor but the standard today is TMX (Translation Memory eXchange), an XML dialect maintained by LISA .

There are 3 ways to align text.

  1. by hand
  2. with a-free software
  3. with free software (including free of charge)

I used to do it by hand (copy the texts in 2 text editors windows with line numbers displayed, hack the contents so that strings on the same line number correspond, paste TMX code all over this).

In a good text editor, you can do all the work with the keyboard using only shortcuts. The paste TMX code all over this part is a little tricky but some smart people have created simple scripts in Perl or Python to ease the pain .

Then, I bought Heartsome's Translation Suite, a set of Java applications for translators. The set includes TMXEditor, a TMX file editor as its name says, and I did most of my alignment there for a while. I've always had mixed feelings about TMXEditor. There are display glitches, it does not seem easy to work only with the keyboard, it uses a lot of memory... TMXEditor does a few things very well (TMX merging and various checks), but on Mac, it is not the best tool for aligning texts .

The best tool (for now) on Mac is a native application called Appletrans, previously known as Alair. Appletrans had been on my hard disk for so long that I had almost forgotten about it, always promising myself that I'd test it to write a blog entry about it.

Appletrans is a text editor for translators. It is available free of charge directly from Apple, from their localization page, and besides for being a very nice aligner, it also is a full fledged CAT tool that a number of people have adopted as their tool of choice .

The following is an introduction to text alignment in Appletrans. I'd like to thank Steven DeWitt for helping me when I was lost in the shortcuts and for confirming that what follows is not merely the product of my feverish imagination.

Aligning text in Appletrans

  1. Prepare the files

  2. (This part is very well explained in the Appletrans manual. Don't hesitate to refer to it.)

    1. Appletrans does not open .doc files.
      → save the files to align to the RTF format in TextEdit

      Appletrans can also open a number of other file formats by default and plugins are available to add even more file formats.

    2. Open the source file and the target file from the finder or in Appletrans.
      → in the Finder, right click, Open With, Appletrans should come in the list.

      The files should be displayed with most of their styling but without any images, if any were present in the original files. Also, the files names now come with an .alair extension in replacement for the .rtf extension (see the title bar).

    3. Segment the two files (repeat the procedure for both files)
      → Do not select any contents in the opened files
      Tool menu, Segment submenu, Segment

      A dialog shows, select the segmentation type you want in the drop down menu, press segment all, you'll see small orange markers at the beginning and end of each segment Appletrans has created for you.

    4. Let Appletrans know that the two files are to be synchronized, do that for the two files.
      Tool menu, Synchronize

      A dialog shows, enter the language of the file.

      The synchronization causes the display to change a little bit. Use Cmd+1 (or Cmd+2) on the frontmost text and you'll see that the segments defined in that window are somehow linked to segments in the other window.

      By doing that, you can already see that some source segments are not associated to the correct target segment. The alignment process is about correcting such association mistakes.

  3. Correct the default segment associations

  4. (This part is not as clear in the user manual and required a bit of guessing.)

    You have now 2 windows open:

    1. The segmented source file
    2. The segmented target file

    Here are the Appletrans specific shortcuts that you will need to modify the alignment:

    Cmd+1 (Tool menu, Segment submenu)

    → selects the next segment and shows the associated segment in the other window

    Cmd+2 (Tool menu, Segment submenu)

    → selects the previous segment and shows the associated segment in the other window

    It is also possible to select any segment in the text by clicking on one of its orange segment marker.

    Opt+Cmd+R (Tool menu, Segment submenu)

    Restore, removes the segmentation for the selected segments, at least one full segment must be selected for the action to work

    Opt+Cmd+S (Tool menu, Segment submenu)

    Segment Selection, no need to go through the Segment dialog again !

    Now, here are some practical standard shortcuts that will make your life easier.


    → moves the cursor around the window


    → selects while the cursor is moving


    → deletes the selected part (segment or text)

    Cmd+X, Cmd+V

    → standard cut, paste that you can use to move segments or text around

    Merge segments

    • Select the segments to merge.
    • Press Opt+Cmd+R (Restore) to remove their original segmentation.
    • Press Opt+Cmd+S (Segment Selection) to make a segment from the selection.

    Split a segment

    • Select the segment to split.
    • Press Opt+Cmd+R (Restore) to remove its original segmentation.
    • Select the part you want to make a segment out of.
    • Press Opt+Cmd+S (Segment Selection) to make a segment from the selection.
    • Proceed similarly with the remaining of the original segment until every part is a segment.

    It is also possible to cut and paste segment contents around to achieve the same result. You may end up with empty segments that will have to be deleted. Do what fits best your workflow.

    In the system shortcuts (see System Preferences, Keyboard Shortcuts), you should have a Move focus to next window in active application.

    I have set this shortcut to Cmd+Esc, so that I can Cmd+Tab to navigate the running applications and Cmd+Esc to navigate the open windows of the frontmost one.

    Imagine the following scenario:

    Cmd+1, you select the next coming segment, you notice that it is not associated with the right segment in the other window.

    Cmd+Esc, you go to that window, you do what you have to do there, and when the segments are properly aligned, you don't need to go back to the first window, just proceed with Cmd+1.

    Anyway, with the above indications, you should be able to correct all the segments association in the files by using only the keyboard and by thus saving a huge amount of time.

  5. Create the alignment file

  6. The purpose of all this is of course to create an aligned file that you will later use for reference in your favorite CAT tool.

    Appletrans allows you to save such corpus in the familiar TMX format that most CAT tools support.

    First, you need to create a new corpus that will contain the data you just aligned.

    File menu, New Corpus

    A new dialog should be displayed but you don't have to worry about it. Click on any of the two text window that you have just aligned.

    Now, to save your data:

    Tools menu, Build Corpus

    Appletrans will be busy for a few seconds and then will release the focus.

    If you go back to the Corpus dialog, you will notice that the upper left red light now has a black dot in it, which indicates that the corpus has been modified.

    To create the final TMX:

    File menu, Save As

    Put a relevant file name and select TMX Format from the File Format drop down menu. Then save.

    The TMX that you have just created is a TMX 1.4 file that contains only textual information. All the style that was present in the RTF files has been removed. It is thus a TMX 1.4 level 1 file.

    A typical Appletrans created TMX file will look like this:

    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
    <tmx version="1.4">
    <header creationtool="AppleTrans" creationtoolversion="38" datatype="unknown" segtype="sentence" adminlang="en" srclang="en" o-tmf="AlairCorpus">
    <tuv xml:lang="en"><seg>sentence</seg></tuv>
    <tuv xml:lang="fr"><seg>phrase</seg></tuv>

    You may want to change the srclang argument since Appletrans defaults to "en". If you use this TMX in OmegaT, the change won't be necessary as long as the xml:lang argument for the two tuvs corresponds to language variants of the languages you have set at the time of the project creation.

  7. Validate the TMX contents

  8. Appletrans (and a number of other tools) do not ensure that the TMX contents perfectly follows the TMX standard. In some cases, the textual contents that you have just aligned and converted will contain characters that should not be included in a TMX file. To ensure that the TMX you have just created does not contain such characters, you are going to need another utility.

    Maxprograms, the creator of a number of translation related tools, has released a free TMX validation utility that will be put at use here .

    Launch TMXValidator, and instead of using the Validate File in the File menu, use the Clean Invalid Characters from the same menu.

    TMXValidator will ask you to select your TMX file. After a very short time, the main window should display "File cleaned". No need to save, the file has already been modified.

    You can now use the TMX file in any CAT tool that support TMX files.


About LISA:
TMX, XLIFF, etc...

Perl and Python scripts to create TMX files are available from the OmegaT official page.

Heartsome's page is here. You can download the software set and use it without limitations for 30 days.

Appletrans can be found from Apple's Localization Tools page, here.
There is a very active support group hosted by Yahoo Groups.

Maxprograms has been around for a while but limited itself to deliver free utilities eventually distributed with the Heartsome tool set. Now it has a full fledged XLIFF editor, Swordfish, along with all the smaller utilities that are all very useful.

10 April 2008

OSX in Arabic !

I was wondering how much news I'd get from reading the Mac related French sites and until now I've only been disappointed by seeing only translation of the English news.

This morning, something that was not reported in the English sites made its way to my RSS page... The Arabic localization of OSX ! The site is Mac Génération and reported on the release of an Arabic kit for OSX.

The release is available for OSX 10.5.2 as a .dmg package. Looking at the release page, one can see an Intel 10.4.10 localization package is also available.

Very good news for the Arabic OSX users!

03 March 2008

Spellchecking in OmegaT 1.8

This (or something similar) will eventually make its way into the user manual. Meanwhile...

  1. Click on Options > Spell checking...

  2. Indicate where you want OmegaT to look for dictionaries.

  3. This can of course be the directory where OpenOffice.org keeps his.
  4. If there are valid dictionaries in that location, OmegaT will recognize them and will display them. If the dictionary you want to use is already there and visible to OmegaT, you're done. If that is not the case, proceed with the following:

  5. Click on "Install". This takes a while because OmegaT gets a list of dictionaries from the internet.

  6. OmegaT will display a list of dictionaries, click on the dictionaries you want to install (Cmd+click will do multiple selections on Mac, maybe Ctrl+click will do on other platforms).

  7. After you have clicked "Install", the button will change of color and OmegaT will get the files from the internet and nothing noticeable will happen for a while. Just wait until the button reverts to its "normal" state.

  8. Close.

  9. The new dictionaries will be displayed in the dictionary list.

  10. To use the dictionaries, make sure the language code of the target files corresponds to the dictionary's language code: an FR-FR dictionary will not work with an FR target setting. You need to change the setting to FR-FR to have the spellchecker recognize the correct dictionary for your target.

You don't have to use that interface to install new dictionaries.

Go to OpenOffice.org's dictionary download page and get the files you want.

Uncompress them in the directory specified in step 2) above.

If OmegaT does not notice them after that install, you can try reloading the project or restarting OmegaT.

Once you have started translating, OmegaT will produce a familiar red wavy underlining for words that are not included in the applied dictionary. A right-click on the word should produce a contextual menu that will display a number of candidates as well as a few options.

People who can't "right-click" because they only have one mouse button can use Command+Click to display the contextual menu. Those of you who have a recent Mighty Mouse from Apple should know that it is quite configurable. Check the System Preferences.

It is also possible to configure some touchpads to simulate a right-click when hitting them with 2 fingers at once. Check your preferences...

02 March 2008

OmegaT 1.7.3, 1.8, 1.9...

February was a good month for OmegaT.

Rank is second best with 187 out of 100,000+, after October 2007 (see this post) where it was at 137.

Downloads is also second best with 3,883 packages (everything included), after November 2006 where it was at 4,127.

A few days ago, the latest stable version was released (OmegaT 1.7.3_01). It had been existing as a test version for a while and since there were no major issues with it, it was eventually considered stable.

Making 1.7.3 stable also meant creating a whole new test version. While the developers were busy fixing the most important glitches and adding localizations, work was also done on the last version of OmegaT that will work with Java 1.4: OmegaT 1.8.

OmegaT 1.8 test has been released a few minutes ago ! In fact, Didier had been waiting all this week for the OSX bundled that I had totally forgotten about. Apologies everybody !!!

OmegaT 1.8

Donwload OmegaT 1.8 test for OSX !

Java 1.4 is a thing of the past for most Windows and Linux users. For them, Java 1.6 has been available for a while already. But for Mac, Java 1.5 is still the default in Leopard (10.5) and Tiger (10.4), and Panther (10.3) users are still limited to Java 1.4.

OmegaT 1.8 is bringing quite a few major new features to OmegaT.

First of all, a spellchecker. OmegaT uses the same spellchecker as OpenOffice.org: hunspell. Which also means that it can use all the dictionaries available for OpenOffice.org, and that means quite a lot. Since the manual has not been updated yet to cover this aspect of the setup, you'll have to proceed by trial and error to install your dictionaries, but it is relatively trivial so you should be alright. Don't forget to make sure that the dictionary language code and the project target language code match, otherwise the spellchecker will not realize it is called...

Update! It looks like some OmegaT users have a hard time with the spellchecking setup, so I just wrote a page about that: Spellchecking in OmegaT 1.8.

After the spellchecking, there are quite a few other features that will surely ease your work. Here is a list from the changes.txt file:

  • Letter case change in editing field

  • Display (all) source segments, so that you don't have to navigate to a segment to see its source, you can have all the source segments displayed at once

  • Mark translated segments with a distinguishable background color

  • Mark untranslated segments with a distinguishable background color

  • Navigation history, so that you can change of segment and come back to the one where you left

  • HTML, skip extraction of messages matching regxep

  • Select elements to translate in office documents

  • Clickable match window, so that you can navigate to a match

  • Compare source segment and translated segment lengths

  • Indicate translation progress in status bar, mostly the data in the project file window, but available without having to change of window

OmegaT 1.8 does have a few glitches though, some of them I gather, due to the spellchecker interaction with the editing interface. So it should really be considered as a test version. But I have been working with it since the very first days of the spellchecker implementation and I have yet to loose data with it (not that I am particularly anxious to prove the fact that a test version should not be used for real jobs though...)

OmegaT 1.7.3_02

If you check the release notes available in OmegaT 1.8 you'll find that a 1.7.3 release 2 is in the making.

Currently, 1.7.3_02 includes the following:

  • Command line parameters for OmegaT.exe

  • Windows installer

  • New Arabic localisation (readme, instant start)

Bug fixes:

  • PO: Bad handling of plural messages on multiple lines

OmegaT 1.7.3 release 2 is not yet ready. It is still waiting for more localizations and eventual bug fixes. I'll update this page when information comes in.

Regarding OmegaT's first Arabic localization, I would like to express my sincere thanks to Mr. Faycal Alami who considered my request for help and gladly contributed his work to the OmegaT Project. I hope we will be able to have a fully localized version of OmegaT in Arabic thanks to his work.

The Arabic localization will only be available in OmegaT 1.8 test for a while, until OmegaT 1.7.3_02 is released.

OmegaT 1.9

Now that OmegaT 1.8 is in testing as the last version of OmegaT that will work in Java 1.4, a lot of work is being accomplished on the next version of OmegaT. Targetting Java 1.5 and probably modifying quite a few important things that we've been used to... OmegaT 1.9 code is now mostly OmegaT 1.8 with a lot of refactoring, to prepare the code for core changes.

I am currently using the new code and am updating it as soon as something seemingly big comes in so I'll let you know what goes on. For people who like to be on the bleeding edge, check the OmegaT Project new SVN repository by typing the following at your command line:

svn co https://omegat.svn.sourceforge.net/svnroot/omegat omegat

You'll need ant to build the code. There won't be an OSX bundle for 1.9 before a while, so you'll have to do as we used to before the bundle: either double-click on the OmegaT.jar file, or start from the command line.

29 February 2008

Mac for Translators, mailing list ?

I am starting to think that this blog could benefit from a proper mailing list...

So here it is: http://groups.google.com/group/mac-for-translators...

Feel free to join. The archives are set to be publicly available, and the group will be multilingual.

To subscribe, send a message to mac-for-translators-subscribe@googlegroups.com. Google will send you a confirmation mail.

20 February 2008

Okapi tools on OSX...

In my "Okapi tools for Mono" post, last November, I discussed the possibility to use Okapi on OSX without installing Parallels/VMWare/WhateverVirtualSolutionYouPrefer and Windows and .NET... Which in the end makes Okapi a very expensive free tool...

Okapi has recently been released to work on Mono, the free (as a bird) version of .NET and I've promised myself to install everything and try the package as soon as I'd have a job requiring it.

This job has come. At last. It is a small set of InDesign files (that will eventually end up being Illustrator files) that are part of a much bigger translation package...

So, at the time of writing, here is the procedure you need to follow to get everything to work:

(Beware, Okapi for mono does not come with a graphical interface and everything must be done in the Terminal, at the command line. It is not terribly hard but not super trivial either for the translator who is not used to that. For people who need an introduction to working with the Terminal on OSX, check this link.)

  1. Download Mono (1.2.6 at the time of the post):


  2. Install it by clicking on the package file and following the instructions.

  3. Download Okapi for Mono (R00020 at the time of the post):


  4. Unzip/untar the package and read the ReadMe_ForMono.htm file found in the Tikal folder

  5. Do what the file says under "Using the Okapi tools"

    (for some reason, I am yet unable to properly set the path to Okapi...)

When this is done, you'll need to take a look at the Mono for OSX page to know how to use the beast.

Basically, it comes down to opening the Terminal and typing:

$ mono ~/bin/OkapiMono/Tikal/Tikal.exe

Here, I've left my path to Tikal because I could not set it properly in the install step. But a proper install should accept:

$ mono Tikal.exe

Running only Tikal.exe without any arguments will have the application display its basic help where you'll see what you need to type to do a few basic things, like:

$ mono Tikal.exe -lf
to list the available filters.

Just for your information, since you can find that on the Okapi help pages too, here are the filters that are directly available from the Mono command line:

  • okf_po (Okapi PO Filter)

  • okf_properties (Okapi Properties Filter)

  • okf_script (Okapi Script Filter)

  • okf_netres (Okapi NETRes Filter)

  • okf_rc (Okapi RC Filter)

  • okf_xml (Okapi XML Filter)

  • okf_wordfast (Okapi Wordfast Filter)

  • okf_tradostext (Okapi Trados Text Filter)

  • okf_illustrator (Okapi Illustrator Filter)

  • okf_table (Okapi Table Filter)

  • okf_inx (Okapi INX Filter)

  • okf_html (Okapi HTML Filter (ALPHA TEST ONLY)
  • )
  • okf_json (Okapi JSON Filter)

If you use the parameter -lu you'll get a list of available utilities:

  • oku_set01:extraction

  • oku_set01:merging

  • oku_set01:rewriting

  • oku_set01:encodingconversion

  • oku_set01:lbconversion

  • oku_set01:bomconversion

  • oku_set02:qualitycheck

  • oku_set02:update

  • oku_set02:rtfconversion

  • oku_set02:xsltransformation

  • oku_set02:twbanalysis

  • oku_set02:rtfsplitting

  • oku_set02:alignment

  • oku_set02:rtftotmx

  • oku_set03:alignment

  • oku_set04:dnllistedit

  • oku_set04:xliffsplitting

  • oku_set04:xliffconcatenation

  • oku_set04:tmxsplittingdup

  • oku_set04:xliffconversion

  • oku_set04:proofreading

  • oku_set04:searchandreplace

  • oku_set04:uriconversion

  • oku_set04:cdataconversion

  • oku_set04:xmlpruning

  • oku_set04:ttx2tmx

  • oku_set04:xmlpartitioning

All the filters and utilities etc require specific parameters to run. Check the Okapi for Mono manual that comes with the download to know how to use all that.

Don't forget that Okapi has a very nice user group managed by Yves Savourel, the developer. It is possible to access the archives without having to subscribe to it.

Et voilà ! That is pretty much everything you need to know to get started... I hope that helped !

13 January 2008



A very interesting article at Ars Technica tells us why file systems matter. And it tells us a lot about Macs too !

From BFS to ZFS: past, present, and future of file systems

ZFS was the new file system that was rummored to be behind Leopard's Time Machine. ZFS has been developped by SUN Microsystem for their Solaris operating system.

Quote from the ZFS Open Solaris Page:

ZFS is a new kind of filesystem that provides simple administration, transactional semantics, end-to-end data integrity, and immense scalability. ZFS is not an incremental improvement to existing technology; it is a fundamentally new approach to data management. We've blown away 20 years of obsolete assumptions, eliminated complexity at the source, and created a storage system that's actually a pleasure to use.

ZFS presents a pooled storage model that completely eliminates the concept of volumes and the associated problems of partitions, provisioning, wasted bandwidth and stranded storage. Thousands of filesystems can draw from a common storage pool, each one consuming only as much space as it actually needs. The combined I/O bandwidth of all devices in the pool is available to all filesystems at all times.

Key word here: data integrity... For flawless backups etc...

Well, to tell you the truth, the above quote was from the ZFS Open Solaris Page via the ZFS on OS X page on MacForge, the provider of many a Free Software project for the Mac.

Which also means that YES! ZFS is available for the Mac !!!

To know more about it, go to Welcome to ZFS on OS X.

04 January 2008

Office 2008 review

Ars Technica's word

Ars Technica has released a brief review of Office 2008, a few days before the suite's release at MacWorld 2008 .

The new file format

For translators, the main appeal of the suite is the access it provides to the new Office 2007 format. There are plenty of things to say about this new format, and the first is that power users or developers who rely on the OOXML standard to create files that Office 2007/2008 should support are going to be a little surprised ...

Native !

Another important feature of the suite is that the new Office for Mac is now a Universal Binary, which means that it will run natively and equally well on both PPC and Intel machines. No more Rosetta between the machine and Office!

MacTech has run a few tests (2500) to compare Office 2008 to Office 2004 on G4 and Intel /Tiger and Leopard machines.

The conclusion is that Office 2008 is about 30% faster than Office 2004 on Intel machines and that it is "marginally" slower on G4 machines. Also, Office 2008 looks faster on Leopard than on Tiger.

Besides for the raw performance, the article points at the fact that the suite having been rewritten, a number of features are either more quickly accessed or provide a faster ergonomic experience than their 2004 counterparts. Which means that even users of a G4 could see some benefits using it .

No more Wordfast ! Scripting options ?

The major problem for Mac translators is that since Office 2008 drops VBA support they won't be able to use WordFast anymore, at least the current versions that are basically a Word macro written in VBA.

Office 2008 supposedly adds better AppleScript support and OSX integration but it is unlikely that such features will be of much use for tool developers who relied on the relative compatibility with Office for Windows to deliver their "mutliplatform" tools. Still, people who want to start converting their VBA work to AppleScript should take a look at MacTech's transition guide.

According to Nadyne, MBU member and Ars Technica's Jacqui Cheng, Office 2008's Automator support does not come as a default option: it is not in the "Home/Student" edition, only in the "Standard" and "Special".

Automator support comes along with "full Exchange support" for an extra cost of $250 ("Home/Student" at $150, "Standard" at $400)...

Pricing ?

Also, it looks like MS is sticking to its funky Vista-like pricing options (or maybe Vista only made that worse)... Why is it so hard to simply have a 1 license vs 3+ licenses pricing pattern?

No multi-license scheme for "Standard" and 3 "non-commercial" installs for "Home/Student"...

Last but not least ?

Here is a good reason to wait until a few updates are released... Microsoft has published a list of know issues with the new software. MacOSXHints makes a short summary and has links to the relevant page at Microsoft. You wonder what they've done of their time in 4 years of development... Another case of the Vista syndrome? Some issues seem to have been addressed in the first update of the suite though.


Ars Technica's Office 2008 review:
First Look: Microsoft Office for Mac 2008
By Jonathan M. Gitlin, January 2008

MS does not respect its own format:
Microsoft Office XML formats? Defective by design
By Stéphane Rodriguez, August 2007

MacTech's VBA to AppleScript transition guide:
Moving from Microsoft Office VBA to AppleScript: MacTech's Guide to Making the Transition
By Paul Berkowitz, April 2007.

MacTech's Office 2008 Benchmarks Preview:
How well does Office 2008 run compared to Office 2004?
By Neil Ticktin, Editor-in-Chief, January 2008.

Mac My Day, Nadyne's blog at MBU:
today's top five questions in the Office 2008 booth
By Nadyne, MBU member, January 2008.

Ars Technica's Infite Loop
Microsoft announces Mac Office 2008 pricing, upgrade details
By Jacqui Cheng, September 2007.

MacOSXHints' summary of known issues
A list of known issues with Microsoft Office 2008
By user davidfoster with addendum by manager robg, January 2008.

Microsoft's first update details
Description of the Office 2008 for Mac 12.0.1 Update
By Microsoft, March 2008

02 January 2008

Will the Real T(ranslator|echie) Please Stand Up?

I think I need to change my working habits too.

Here is Andy Kim's story about workplace ergonomics.

And here is Bill Clementson's older story:
part 1
part 2
part 3
part 4

01 January 2008

RAM cost on Apple machines


With the latest hardware updates, RAM price has considerably dropped.

The iMac 2gb->4gb update drops from ¥89,000 to ¥47,000, same drop on the laptops. Only the Mac Pro does not seem to benefit from the drop (at ¥63,000).

I've seen a number of blog articles here and there complaining about Apple's RAM prices but each and every single one of them missed something: a comparison of the actual chips that were being installed on the updated machines and a comparison with other makers' practices.

I have no doubt that one can find cheap memory anywhere but what is the cost of the high end stuff, and why not assume that it is what Apple puts in our machines ? Is there a study out their that proves Apple is such a crook as far as RAM quality/cost ratio is concerned ?

What is the performance difference between components of various prices and origins ?

Just to make sure I am not misunderstood. I have no doubt whatsoever that Apple is making a very fat margin on a number of items.

The update from 2gb to 4gb on the iMac line is ¥89,000 on the Japanese store (~$615 - too bad for the US customers who are penalized by the exchange rate: $700 on the US Apple Store).

When I check similar updates (from 2gb to 4gb) for various makers' online stores I find (after a huge lot of painful browsing through ugly online stores):

Below $400

  • Dell (desktop) charges $270.
  • HP (desktop) charges $170+$100=$270
  • Lenovo (desktop) charges $340-$60=$280
  • Everex (?) charges $135x2=$270 for memory chips but it is not specified if the chips come installed or not.
  • HP (laptop) charges $300
  • AlienWare (desktop) charges $450-$100=$350
  • Dell (laptop) charges $375.

Above $400

  • Apple charges less on the Mac Pro series: from 2gb to 4 gb only costs $400.
  • Lenovo (laptop) charges $520-$80=$440
  • NEC (desktop) charges ¥110,000-¥50,000=¥60,000 (~$460)
  • Fujitsu (laptop) charges $480.
  • Sony (laptop) charges $660-$110=$550 (I could not find relevant information for Sony desktops but since the Apple RAM tax applies equally to notebooks I also checked the Sony laptops)
  • Toshiba laptops did not seem to include a 4gb options but the upgrade from 512mbx2 to 2gbx1 is $280

Also, Apple's line is made of compact machines (obvious for the laptops) at the exception of the Mac Pro. All the compact machines' upgrades from 2gb to 4gb cost the same at Apple and the non-compact Mac Pro's upgrade costs much less. Similarly for other makers, all the compact machines' upgrades cost more than the non-compact machines'.

So, what does all that mean ?

  1. One can find extra cheap uninstalled RAM in the wild, just check for low prices in your area.
  2. All the makers I checked charge much more for the update than for the price of the individual chip
  3. Makers that also compete in the low end (Dell, Lenovo, HP, Everex) charge similar prices <$400
  4. Other makers (Sony, Fujitsu, NEC) all charge more than Apple's upgrade for the Mac Pro's $400, and Sony is actually quite close to Apple's compact machines ($550 - $700). Toshiba would no doubt charge similar prices if its laptops accepted 4gb or RAM (I could not find any on the online store, but that does not mean they don't exist).

Now, I have still no idea what chips are in the machines, what is their relative quality and how much margin all the other makers actually get from their RAM upgrade prices. But considering the prices, it does not seem that what Apple does is so outrageous after all. After all, as John Gruber put it in a recent post, Apple is after profit, not market shares.

And just in case that would have escaped people who write blogs, the actual act of shopping is made very easy by Apple. I live in the Japanese country side and being able to have flawless support after getting my machine from the online store is definitely worth the $100 difference with a Sony machine, or the $350 with a Dell machine. Plus, those don't run Leopard. When I call the support center and talk to super polite people who are able to answer complex questions without hesitation, I say that is worth the Apple tax on my RAM (and yes, I did get 4GB on my wife's recent 24" iMac).

Regarding the recent iMac's memory specifications, see this document. Earlier iMacs did not support the full 4GB it seems.