Things you need to know about Altavista Babelfish Translation Service

Altavista Bebelfish

Altavista Babelfish is the oldest online translation services in the World Wide Web that accurately translates sentences in different languages, which include Spanish, Swedish, Russian, Portuguese, Korean, Japanese, Italian, Greek, German, French, Dutch, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese and English.

The name Babelfish was derived from the “Babel fish”, the fictional species in the series written by Douglas Adams entitled The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. In turn, the name of the species pertains to the Tower of Babel, a place mentioned in the Bible where language confusion took place.

On the 9th of December, 1997, AltaVista Translation Service was launched by Systran S.A. and Digital Equipment Corporation at In the month of February 2003, AltaVista was purchased by Overture Services, Inc. Later in July 2003, Yahoo took over Overture and on May 9, 2008, its web address has been changed to

Apart from being able to translate words and phrases, Babel Fish is also able to translate web pages. This is the reason why it is considered as a very helpful tool for users who come across a site they are interested in, which is written in a foreign language.

To translate an entire web page, all a user needs to do is paste in the URL of the website and click “Translate”. While the translation is not perfect, users will have a clear grasp of what the site is all about. This feature can effectively open up web sections which might have been inaccessible to them. On the other hand, when comparing the original and translated page, users just have to click the link stating “view this page in its original language” located at the top of the screen.

Yahoo Babel Fish is dubbed as a very helpful tool for people who are in need of instant translation service. It is completely for free and very easy to use, so take advantage of it now!

Posted in Languages

Marginal Revolution: Why Most Published Research Findings are False

Marginal Revolution: Why Most Published Research Findings are False

There is increasing concern that in modern research, false findings may be the majority or even the vast majority of published research claims. However, this should not be surprising. It can be proven that most claimed research findings are false. – John Ioannidis

The argument is from a paper by John Ionnidis, but Alex Tabarrok gives a much easier to read analysis of the fairly simply Bayesian reasoning behind it. Essentially, this is the classic problem of false positives vs. true positives when the condition being tested for is rare in the population (e.g. presence of AIDs in non-high-risk groups, or in this case the truth of a hypothesis).

It might be tempting to argue that the case of a hypothesis under test being true isn’t typically as bad as the general assumptions being made to drive the argument, since the researchers presumably have some thought or intuition that drives them to pick a particular hypothesis to test (they’re not just throwing darts at a board), but consider that works both ways. Despite the common complaint that this or that study is “just another case of science proving what everybody already knows (and so a waste of money)”, I suspect very few researchers deliberately pick hypotheses that are widely believed to be true, particularly if there’s a lot of evidence and research backing up that belief. That’s not, generally speaking, believed to be the way to advance the frontiers of scientific knowledge. But in that case, the sample is biased in the other direction–a random hypothesis to test would include already-known-to-be-true hypotheses in the same proportion that they occur in the population of all hypotheses, so the hypotheses actually attracting attention are less likely to be true than random chance would dictate. Whether the scientist’s intuition towards selecting true hypothesis is a bigger bias than the elimination of all the ones believed to be true is something you can’t really be sure of, so I’d be really cautious about asserting that P(hypothesis is true) must be a lot better than Ionaddis’ calculations allow for.

Posted in Science

Never too busy to blog?

Yes, I know that I posted something just after I whined that I didn’t have time to post anything. But, but….it was cool! And after I opened up bloglines to see if it updated correctly, I just had to take a quick look at my favorite blogs, didn’t I?

Posted in General

Thinking in Language

It occurs to me that when I say, on the front page of the site, that thoughts form in my mind and are then articulated in English, I’m saying something that might be controversial. Some people might say that thinking takes place in a language, so there is something odd regarding it as I do. Certainly much of the time it seems to me that I’m thinking in English, that the thoughts are the words themselves…but then there are those times when I’m groping for le mot juste, or have a word I’ve forgotten “at the tip of my tongue.” It seems to me that if the thought is the language and nothing more, such situations are inexplicable, perhaps impossible. How can you want a better word for a thought than the word that is the thought? On the other hand if the thought, at least some of the time, comes first then what could be more natural than the occasional feeling that words are slippery, or that

bq. One has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it.
-T.S. Eliot Four Quartets

Posted in General

A Change in Direction

Since I haven’t been posting about linguistic topics to this blog very much recently (and in fact all my blog posting has been dwindling), I’ve decided to consolidate a bit, and make this my main blog since it’s the one that actually incorporates my name in the title. I’ll probably cross-post to other blogs, when the topic fits, but for this blog pretty much anything that interests me goes. Well, except politics… I’ll be creating some more categories to support this change, so if you’re only interested in my occassional linguistics and language related posts, you’ll still be able to segregate them out of the general flow of my maunderings.

Posted in General

Scanlations as “Theft”

from a comment I left on Comics Worth Reading:

I easily deny that scanlations are theft from the creators.  Calling it theft is an attempt to set the terms of the debate by means of a false analogy. Or are libraries, which also purchase a small number of copies of a work and then share them indiscriminately, also hotbeds of crime? I could equally well call attempts to hoard and demand payment for information, the only thing in this world that can be shared without diminishing it, piracy of people’s natural rights, no more moral than pirates who stop ships and demand money to let them pass.  It’s not likely to convince anyone who doesn’t already share my point of view.

If you actually want to make progress in discussing “intellectual property” you have to start out by acknowledging that it’s a completely artificial category and has special properties that can’t be analogized to anything else.  The natural state, absent any coercion, is that people can freely share information without diminishing it, and if you don’t want to let them do that you need to keep it secret.  From there you can then reason that the natural state provides too little incentive to create and share new information…people would ultimately be better off if you created a legal framework where creators would have a limited monopoly on the duplication of the information they share.  But how much better off they would be depends on the exact parameters of that monopoly…and it could make them worse off if the rules are poorly written. It’s pretty easy to say, well, nobody really needs to read Naruto so there’s a very small price to pay if you don’t let them read it until the publisher puts it out… it’s a lot harder when you’re arguing that poor folks who could never afford a certain drug they need to live should die even if there was somebody willing to produce the drug cheaply if only they had the right to duplicate the information because otherwise there’s not enough incentive for creators to come up with such drugs in the first place.  The latter argument may even be harsh but right, but saying it’s simply or obviously theft from the creators strikes me as an attempt to short-circuit any rational discussion of the trade-offs.

Posted in General

What I’ve been doing

I continue to be really bad at predicting what I’m going to have enough enthusiasm to work on in my free time.  I’ve made no progress at all on getting back into doing any comics, but I’ve made a great deal of progress on writing and releasing a superhero RPG.  We’ve been playtesting it in the Sunday game group, and that’s been going well. I’ve almost completed the manuscript (currently in its 9th draft), including typesetting in in LaTeX (for which I had to learn just enough LaTeX), and started to produce some artwork for the illustrations.  The plan is to release it as both a free PDF and a POD book via some service like Lulu, under a Creative Commons license.  So I’ve been quite busy, happy and productive, just not on the project that I thought I was going to tackle next….

Posted in General

Art for Art’s Sake

I’m planning on getting back into doing comics, to give myself a creative outlet.  One minor problem: my wife glommed onto the Macbook Pro that I used to use for these things.  She’d be willing to loan it back on an as-needed basis, but I know myself well enough to know that if whenever I wanted to sit down and do some art I’d first have to go get the laptop and bring it up, plug in the monitor and so on, I’d never get around to it after the first couple of times.  So instead I’m planning on reproducing my environment on my Vista box.  My Wacom tablet works, no problem, and I’ve just downloaded trial versions of Comic Life and Corel Draw Painter (which is up to 11, from version 10 last time I touched any of this stuff).  I’ve got 30 days to decide whether I like the Windows versions enough to pay for them, or want to try to find something else.  As an added bonus, I’ve just stuck a Seagate 1TB external drive on this machine, so I have plenty of backup space.  I lost way too many of the original files for my last comic when my prior Macbook Pro was stolen.

Now I just have to decide little details, like what’s the comic going to be about, the format, and so on.  One thing I have decided is I want to actually draw it instead of using mostly photos of Legos, but I haven’t yet decided whether to do a gag-a-day, a continuity strip, or what.  My wife says I should do something funny, so even if I do a continuity strip it’ll be humorous as best as I can make it.  I’ll probably set it up as its own WordPress blog on this site, using the ComicPress theme.  I do still have a Webcomics Nation account, but I kind of like the idea of being in control of the whole thing…and it’s not like the bandwidth is going to kill me, even if it turns out to be more popular than my wildest dreams.  Ok, maybe in my wildest dreams, it would require me moving it to Webcomics Nation for free hosting, but those are some pretty wild dreams for somebody who doesn’t have much more than an idea that he wants to do a comic and there are certain genres he enjoys.

Posted in General

Ubuntu 8.04 to the Rescue

Yay!  Installing Ubuntu 8.04 instead of Easy-Peasy fixed my wireless access (basically by downgrading the drivers to ones that worked–theoretically I could have done that by fetching them and compiling them, but without net access I was missing too many pieces).  Now all I have to do is never upgrade again and I’m set!

update: actually, it survived the first update.  It claims to be current for the moment for the build, and wireless still works.  Time to call it a success and a night.

Posted in General

Released Rollon Plugin for TiddlyWiki

Got this done enough to share with people, on a release early, release often basis.  It’s probably only of interest to RPG nerds, unless you want an easy way to set up fortune cookies in your TiddlyWiki…

Rollon Plugin – a plugin for rolling randomly on tables

The goal of Rollon is to make creating and rolling on tables as easy as editing a wiki, or cutting and pasting from a blog or web page. Rollon is a TiddlyWiki plugin designed to let you roll randomly on tables, such as you might find in roleplaying games. When we talk about “tables” in Rollon, we don’t mean an HTML , just a list of entries such as a Wandering Monster Table or Treasure Table might have. To Rollon, any tiddler containing a list is potentially a table, whether the list is an unordered list, an ordered list, a dictionary list, or even just text where each line starts with a number. This gives you a great deal of freedom in designing lists, or cutting and pasting them into your TiddlyWiki from other sources.

Posted in Games, Software