Thursday, December 22, 2011

Introduction to Morphology (w.r.t English)

These slides have been prepared using The Study of Language by George Yule. The basic aspects of morphology are covered e.g. what  is a morpheme? Kinds of Morpheme, Free and Bound Morpheme, Lexical and Functional Morpheme, Derivational and Inflectional Morpheme and some problems in Morphemic Description (and Allo-morphs).

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Word Formation Processes

Every living language adds new words in itself regularly. Similarly old words are left behind, and new meaning is generated for old words as well. There are a number of processes which can be used to enter a new word in a language. These slides discuss the processes of word formation at a beginners level. The book used is The Study of Language by George Yule.

Stress in English

These slides are created to give an introductory level understanding of Stress and Intonation in English. They are created for Pakistani students of Linguistics but contain enough references which can help any student.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Text Summarization Tools and Translation

Today I was (again) requested by one of my clients to translate (the news reports I do for them) in a way that they are summarized. So the readers may not have to go to unnecessary details which they are not interested in. I've tried to go around this request previously, because it was hard for me to provide extra time for "summarization" of the text, then translating it. Being a translator means you do not need to read the passage twice. You keep on reading sentence by sentence and keep on translating. It is very rare when the text is not familiar and translator has to read it first to get an overall idea of it. So I was being selfish in the same way, because I had to be give extra time for same work.

Well, having said that, today when I received the request again, I tried to find a work around. Where I could be happy as well as my client. And I got hit by the idea of automatic text summarization tools. That was amazing, I was so too much excited. I went to google and started searching "creating summary of text". And it gave me a bunch of tips every time "how to write executive summary" and bla bla bla... Well, that didn't go well, I said to myself. And then I changed the keywords to "text summarization tool". And I found some clues, an offline application and then some very exciting online tools which worked for me. So I used automatic summarization tools online today for the first time. I summarized a news report (in English) and then translated it. This way my client got happy (I am hoping so) and I am a happy guy also. So I wanted to share these tools here, in case someone might need to summarize his English text before translating it.

It is the best tool I've got today. It is based on an open source summarization tool. And I think a very good implementation. It works fine for longer texts as well as short. My experience with a 600 words or so text was that it summarized it almost half when I chose 50%. But for a 400 words text, it didn't shorten it to almost or exact half, but returned the same. Then I selected 30% (even 35 or 40 didn't work either) and it gave a very compact summary of the text. So I think next time I should get a one third of longer texts as well so to incorporate more news reports in my daily professional Urdu translation limit for that client.

It was pretty good too, but it is a demo version. Additionally it was not that good as the above one. So I left it.

This one was what I got at number one. It is actually written for Swedish but supports a number of languages including English. The tool is pretty much old and looks like not maintained anymore. It gives some good options for summarization as well, but its result is not very good. After getting the summary of longer text (same as used for text compactor) I had a feeling that automatic summary may not work for me. It focused too much on data and statistics, two sentences were subject less, and the ending part (which I think should have been part of the summary) was also omitted. So I had to add it on my own. But later text compactor solved the problem. I am hoping it will go on solving the problem for me. Because I cannot afford providing extra time for summary and then translation, or deciding what should be included and what should not be (in translation).

So folks, if you even get a chance when you need a summary. Do try these online tools, they work good.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

An Introduction to Phonology

Following slides were prepared using The Study of Language by George Yule. The aim was to give introduction and basics of Phonology using English as a reference language. There is a single example of Urdu as well but that can be ignored by foreign students. The level for these slides was beginner and they do not contain very detailed information on certain aspects of Phonology e.g. Aspects of Connected Speech or Stress, Intonation etc.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

English Vowels

This lecture has been prepared mainly from Internet while Diphthongs section has been prepared from English Phonetics and Phonology by Peter Roach. The slides cover monothongs and diphthongs. The diphthongs are in detail, though I wished to make monothongs section equally detailed as well.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Short Introduction to Phonetics

This lecture contains basic material on Phonetics, introduction of Phonetics and a detailed summary of English Consonants along with their classification. The Study of Language by George Yule is primarily consulted for the preparation of these slides.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

When I was denied from M Phil Applied Linguistics

Denial is not new for me. I’ve been denied lots of times in my life. But this I was not expecting. Ok, let me make it clear. I have a MSc Applied Linguistics degree with a CGPA of 3.72, earned from Government College University Faisalabad in 2010. I have 1st division throughout my academic career. I was actually number one in my class. And now in 2011, I had applied for M Phil Applied Linguistics in same department, same university. But everything was not same. The head Dr. Shehbaz Arif has been appointed newly. So when new administration comes, new ways and methods also come. Another reason for the changes (I’ll explain in next sentence) was the new VC. Well, the changes were made in merit calculation criteria. It was decided as Academic (80) + Interview(15) + Publications (5). I was very much hopeful that I would secure the position in 1st merit list. I got my interview quite fine, it was not very good not very bad in my opinion. I spend 1 month hanging and waiting for the merit lists. When they showed up finally on 31 October, 2011, I was shocked to see that my name wasn’t there. I was panicked, tensed. I ran to university and there I’d been told that my interview was not good enough to earn me a place at merit list. You see the criteria above mentioned? It says interview is a very small part 15 marks only, rest is the academic record (MA and BA). This policy is followed by all 21 debarments of the university. You can go to gcuf.edu.pk, and under Admissions > M Phil 1st Merit List you can see merit lists of each and every department, and how they have calculated merit score. But this is not the case with Applied Linguistics and English departments. Both are under Mr. Shehbaz Arif and he preferred to “devise” his own policy. He decided to include 20 marks of interview (10 qualifying) and marks obtained in GAT (Graduate Assessment Test, a GRE type proficiency test used in Pakistan) and minimal qualifying for GAT were 50. The note under the says that “MERIT LIST IS BASED ON RESEARCH INTERVIEW AND GAT QUALIFING MARKS.”. But the truth is that only interview marks are considered. Because the maximum marks given are 16. I had got 74 marks in GAT and I could secure position in 1st merit list but as GAT is not considered even after writing an explicit note under the merit list notice, I could not secure it. So I am out here. People ask me in the university what’s going on and I feel myself ashamed. I tried to give an application to VC yesterday, today I came to know it “vanished”. I provided them another handwritten copy of it. I went to Registrar he told me to come on Friday. I am not very hopeful, because they’ll create a rule which will disqualify me. But I am not going to make it easy for them. I am going to court if need be. Let me summarize the points I mentioned above.
The Department of Applied Linguistics didn’t follow the Admission policy and thus being unjust according to following points.
  • The admission criterion states that merit be calculated this way Academic (80) + Interview(15) + Publications (5). But Applied Linguistics only considered interviews. This is total favouritism, it is done to deny deserving students like me.
  • There are at least three students on merit list which have 2nd division Ghulam Dastgir, Zia-ur-Rehman and Bahadur Ali, and who knows how many more. While deserving like me sitting outside these inferior candidates have secured their seats.
  • The “criterion” followed by Applied Linguistics states that “Research Interview Plus GAT” marks are included. If this was the way, I could get admission easily. Because GAT is not considered at all.
  • The interview marks are unjustly allotted totally basing on favouritism. One who could speak well was given good marks, and others were denied. The candidate who has maximum marks on this merit list even she does not cross me in CGPA. (All list can be seen at gcuf.edu.pk, and under Admissions > M Phil 1st Merit List).
  • The “qualifying” marks for interview 10 are put unjustly. There is no rule in university policy for “minimum” marks in interview. But it is done here. The limit was placed, so I could be allotted minimum marks in interview and thus to disqualify me.
It is frustrating for me being denied after all this time. But I’ll fight. If they do not yield I’ll go to high court. If I am to be defeated so be it, but I am not going to make it easy for them. I am not going to give up just yet.
Edit: I've added screen shots of merit lists of various departments including English and Applied Linguistics. The difference is obvious.
M Phil Applied Linguistics

M Phil Bio Technology

M Phil Business Administration

M Phil Chemistry

M Phil English

M Phil PakStudies

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hollywood Dance Movies

I am kind of stuck with movies these days. I keep on watching movies. First they were action. Then I turned to romance. And now I am obsessed with dance movies. They are dance movies but romance is a plus, kind of buy one get one free.

I turned to dance movies from romance movies watching Footloose (1985). That was a fantastic movie. Then I got idea of Step Up 3D during my search of movies on google. Downloaded it and watched a dozen times. I love it man. What a fantastic movie this is. The first two part are not as good as third one is. But kind of cool ones. I liked this movie.

And then comes step three when I turn to other dance movies. I go to google and ask it to gimme a list of God damn dance movies like Step Up. And it provided me a list of dance movies (and of course romance was free with each one). So for last 2 days I am kind of screwed up by these movies. I watch, and watch and keep on watching. One turns off, another has completed download and I get stuck with another one. This is second night I am on for late night. And tonight I am writing this post as well.

I never knew about dance so well before these 2 days. It is a whole world and kind of cruel world. But these movies, the ones I've watched so far show two kinds of worlds or worlds of dance. As I am a linguistics learner as well, and Discourse Analysis is one of my favourite areas in my field. So I always seek to find patterns, commonalities and structures. So here again, I could not stop myself analysing all the stories and find out common areas. And I got quite a success. I've found some very interesting points.

As I told in last paragraph there are two kinds of worlds presented here. One is prefect, rigid and requires perfection beyond the abilities of the dancer, and is the elite world of dancing as well, and that is Ballet Dance (pronounced as /ˈbæl.eɪ/). It is special for girls, specially white girls ( I found only 1 black ballet dancer so far in movies). There are large companies who run Ballet Dance theaters and like that stuff. On the other hand there is imperfection, lower class, street dance which is said to be unique and different from person to person, and that is Hip Hop (at least what I could figured out from characters' discussions). The dancers are poor and lower class teens who dance in clubs or streets, they bet on dancing with dollars or take part in competitions to win money. And most street dancers are black, sometimes white as well.

The stories are 99% related to winning a championship or a final performance which will give you a job thus save your career as a dancer. The dancers get scholarships or work hard for the final event. There might be a group of dancers or a solo male or female dancer in leading role. They'll train during the whole film. There would be minor skirmishes during this, a few villain kind of guys hanging around, a few gun fires and perhaps a killing. In the meantime the leading character would find a lover, or s/he will get the other one because s/he has broken up. If they are a group, they'll work together to win dance competition otherwise the other one would help the leading character to win the final event. And at the end (in middle as well actually) there is always a big long kiss (not always that long though). So the story ends, and if there is a sequel the next movie would start with a familiar character from last movie or story would continue with same characters (played by new actors) or it would start or take place on same place.

Probably you've noticed the kind of language I've been using in this post. This is another aspect of these movies. They are related to American teens, specially black teens. So the informal slang is being used throughout the story by the characters. And eventually the watcher also gets his tongue polluted. So I am screwed up here man. These dance movies really suck but I've to keep on watching until my list of movies completes. And in the mean time if you get some time, try Step Up 1, 2 and 3 man. This trilogy really cool dude. Trust me. ;-)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Just How Easily Miscommunication Occurs

It has been a proven fact that we anticipate the next sentence while reading a set of sentences i.e a paragraph. Normally it is considered as a part of discourse processing abilities of our mind, and considered essential to understand a piece of communication. On the other hand, there is an other view that we read what we want to read, or in simple words we perceive meaning which we desire. This second theory looks a bit more aggressive or extremist. But in lots of cases it is true. Specially when we talk about propaganda literature: the people who side with them will see it positively while the people who are against that ideology will perceive it negatively. There are actually very few people who make their mental understanding of the text after fully reading it. Most of us tend to understand the letter from the cover, and make a pre-reading expectation in our mind. And afterwards fit the text or piece of communication in it. Another factor which also helps form pre-reading expectation is the context. The heading or the name of writer/speaker of the text may be considered co-text, while the surrounding clues which are other than language can be considered context.
This post was about a miscommunication actually. The context was online, from Facebook. There is a group of Pakistani English bloggers where they discuss how to blog, and other such stuff. The general background on discussions is about opportunity whether it’s in terms of writing better blog posts, using ads effectively, new ad networks, new topics to blog or writing guest posts on some blog. So it is legitimate to have a discussion on possible job opportunities i.e. working as a blogger. This little piece of miscommunication was triggered partially through this background and context. The rest was covered by the choice of words.
 miscommunicatioin
Now if you see the first sentence Anybody wants to get interviewed?, it may look like writer wants to ask for bloggers to be interviewees for her blog. It’s just fine until now and reader is understanding what the writer is saying. But the second part turns things upside down. Looking for a Tech Blogger (bla bla bal), the very wording of this sentence is compelling towards what the reader wants to understand from context i.e. a job opportunity. Now here it may be observed that co-text is over ridden by context of the utterance. I myself concluded that this message means “I want to hire a technical blogger. Come and get interviewed.”. The other comments are clearly getting the meaning what I perceived in my first reading. But writer (perhaps she got the impression that something was wrong with her wording), in last comment clarifies what she wants. if we see again in the original message’s first sentence, the message was clear she just wanted to interview some bloggers to create content for her own blog. But the context of the message and the expectations of the readers over ridden all the meaning what was intended, and the readers perceived what they wanted to perceive (in a manner of speaking).
So folks you see, how choice of words, context and our own pre-reading expectations change the meaning of words and cause miscommunication. Smile

Friday, October 21, 2011

Some Popular Themes of Science Fiction Series

I've been watching Science Fiction movies and TV series for quite some time. Apart from original 6 movies of Star Trek I watched whole series of Start Trek The Next Generation (it was the most favourite of mine), and now I am watching Start Trek Deep Space 9 plus Star Gate SG1. Though Star Gate is different science fiction universe, but the themes behind Star Trek and Star Gate are usually similar. They might be implemented in different ways in each series, season or franchise but the idea can be extracted. For several weeks I wanted to write something about it, and looks like it's about time.
  • The change of personality of a person is common. The consciousness of a human either transmitted to computer or other human. There are cases when more than one consciousnesses can reside in same mind. Both Star Trek and Stargate presented this theme several times. ST used Hollow Deck or Hollow Suit for the implementation of the idea, SG applied it though alien technology or alien beings residing in the body of an SG personnel.
  • Time travel is very common in such fictional series. Especially ST ships have a tendency to go to past every now and then whenever they encounter a temporal anomaly. While SG use the circular object of shimmering water i.e. Star Gate to travel past. Sometimes aliens possess this technology and SG personnel travel to past. The main concern in such episodes is not to change timeline, because if past is changed present would change as well. So they are always trying to restore the timeline or struggle to stop other enemies who are trying to change it.
  • There are parallel universes in each science fiction universe. The characters have a tendency to be trapped into an alternate reality every now and then. It happened several times in SG when SG1 encountered a mirror which could trigger alternate realities. On the other hand ST DS9 has got several episodes on alternate universe. Quite frankly whenever I suspect an episode to be based on this idea I skip it. Because in DS9 it's quite the same every time, go there save someone, or loose someone. So I leave those episodes.
  • Beings of another dimension or beings of energy is a very interesting theme which is used in such series. The characters encounter strange beings which are either beyond human or linear understanding of time (e.g. Q and Prophets of Bajor in ST, and Ancients of SG). They are superior, they are hostile or friendly, kind or ruthless, caring or uncaring, that all depends on the kind of species. Other than that there may be energy beings which can convert into solid beings at any time, but its not mentioned whether they are beyond human understanding of time and space. SG and ST has got plenty of episodes on such themes when characters encounter energy beings.
  • The theme of a parasite living in humanoid body i.e. symbiont is a reality in ST and SG universes. The parasites live in the body, they give strength, intellect and long life. Both parasite and humanoid combine to create a new personality (Trills in ST and To'kra/ Goa'uld in SG). The parasite is preserved on the death of host and is passed to another one, thus its life goes on and it can live of several life spans of humanoid hosts. The knowledge and intellect plus memories pass from one to another host. It's considered an honour to have a symbiont (in ST, and in human slaves of SG so to become system lord).
  • The characters of such stories are explorers. They travel to new planets watching and learning about new worlds. In ST the travel is through space ship (ST Next Generation) while in SG its through Star gate. They encounter various races which are physiologically different from humans. ST depended a lot on changing face of the characters to create aliens and used makeup techniques. While in SG, they have mostly the excuse that humans were enslaved by Goa'uld and taken to other planets. So others would be humans as well. But some races are different e.g. Jaffa, Asgard of SG1. The explorers frequently become saviours for the races they meet. They might free them from an enemy (as it happens most of the time in SG1 to liberate people from Goa'uld) or it may be to save them from natural calamities. In the second situation the planet is usually dying so the explorers help them relocate (through ship in ST and through Stargate in SG).
  • Super Human mind abilities is also a popular theme for such fictional stories. There are beings which can control the mind of others/ or transmit and receive thoughts  though their brain power both in SG and ST. ST has beings like Volcans and Betazoids who possess telepathic and empathic powers. While SG has the being like Ori or the Path of Origin who possess strong mental abilities. Occasionally there are experiments to create superhuman in SG, which can possess brain power to control things just by their thought (tele-kinetic).
  • Interstellar travel, wormholes, space ships, artificial gravity, energy weapons, force fields instead of iron bars and doors in prisons, sub space communication (faster than light communication), faster than light travel, worp drive/ hyper drive are popular concepts which help build these fictional universes.
All this looks weird, dream, far from reality and truth, part of a dreamer's world. But who knows someday it may come true. Some grand son of my great grand son might be able to see the distances of the universe shrunk by technology. And perhaps my eyes through his eyes would see the wonders that I can never see in my life time. Perhaps....if this planet survived from the hostilities of its very own creation, the humans, perhaps then humankind may be able to see all these wonders.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Linguistics: Introduction and Levels

This lecture deals with levels of linguistics or branches of linguistics including micro branches e.g. grammar, syntax, phonology, as well as macro branches e.g. sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics etc. Additionally there is a short introduction of linguistics in first few slides. The purpose is to create a basic introduction towards linguistics on which the details will be built upon later.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Functions of Langauge

Language is a tool which is used by its speakers to perform various tasks. These tasks are called functions of language. Geoffrey Finch divides the functions of language in two main categories i.e. Micro and Macro. Micro functions are those which help us identify/name things, record, release emotional energy, communicate, socialise, think and enjoy through language. On the other hand macro functions are generalised forms of micro ones which incorporate one or more than one functions within themselves. Thus ideational function helps us conceptualise the world around us, interpersonal function helps us create our relation with respect to other things and humans in society and environment, poetic function gives us liberty to bend the world and create world through words, textual function gives us ability to create understandable and interconnected texts.
The lecture below details the functions of language.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Properties of Human Language

Human language differs from animal communication in different ways. It has unique properties and characteristics. This lecture has been prepared to discuss the unique properties of human language and how they are not present or present at extremely low level in animal communication

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Source of Langauge

This is first lecture of the series that I'll present on this blog. The lecture is on Source of Language and book consulted is Study of Language by George Yule. It can be used for beginner linguistic students, to give them idea of Fundamentals of Linguistics.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Urdu Text Archive

Urdu Text Archive is a collection of texts from different online sources of Urdu Unicode data. The aim was to collect raw text as first step towards creating an Urdu corpus. As there is no viable grammatical tagger for Urdu available yet, this data can only be used to create word lists or for computational linguistic purposes. The data is not sampled very well because we had least choice in data collection. The biggest source is news reports of various online Urdu news papers. The data was retrieved and freed from html programmatically using regex or html parsers in C#. The genres are typical to news domain. There are articles, news reports, columns, letters to editor, editorials etc. Another major genre is books. The books have been collected from Ejaz Akhtar’s copy left archive of open source Urdu Books. The books have data from various fields of life e.g. Poetry, Literature, Religion, Quarnic Translations, Ahadith and online editions of some magazines. The data from books section is proofread and in good quality. It can be used right away for any further development. But data from Urdu News Papers and online resources, is not so good. It is raw text with spelling errors which needs review. There are problems of space, sometimes additional spaces are introduced, other times spaced are omitted and the spellings are non standard in some cases. So a full sweep out of such error is required before creating any further resource based on this data. In present condition, the limitation of genres is also a problem for this data. The scope of data collection needs to be expanded from news papers to other fields of life as well.

Availability

The data of Urdu Text Archive can be downloaded from this link of 4share.com. The sources used for this data collection are Jang Online Edition, Nawaye Waq Online Edition, NewsUrdu.com news reports and Articles, Karachiupdates.com, AalamiAkhbar Online Newspaper and Urdu Books Archive by Ejaz Akhter. The estimate of words in this archive is 1,82,43,149 words approximately, which will be grown in future hopefully.

Future Plans

  • Expanding the archive e.g. Jasarat Online is a good source.
  • Adding more genres e.g. Urdu Chat Data, Urdu Forums Discussions after anonymization, Urdu Blogs.
  • Development of Urdu resources based on this data e.g. spell checking words lists for Urdu.
  • Refining the data and eliminating formatting. language and spelling problems.
  • Finding trends of Urdu writers on Internet.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sword of Truth AND Wheel of Time

I am not clear, whether it was the action of reading WoT first, or the reading of SoT. Now I am in a hollow and a fix kind of situation, drifting here and there. I want to read something, but I cannot because SoT is strikingly similar with WoT. The basic plot has lots of commonalities and I cannot help the feeling that Terry Goodkind has copied something from Robert Jordan. The story drifts apart from WoT’s world ending scenario, but the core remains strikingly same. And after reading reviews about the the similarities, I cannot help myself to read it. But my fantasy loving nature is urging me to do something (actually to listen something). Its just like some heroinchi feels bone crushing need of a cigarette when he can bear no more. Same is with me, I am in a need to read something but don’t know what to read. I’ve tried to read Brother’s Karamazov once again (actually copied in my mobile) but couldn’t develop interest just after a few minutes. What a Shame!

Well, I’ll find something to read, perhaps SoT once again, but let us see a few basic similarities between SoT and WoT. The main purpose of this barely post was to add to the clutter already floating online showing the open secret to the already knowing world. Winking smile

 

SoT WoT
Keeper Dark One
Creator Creator, Light
The Gift One Power
Male Haan Sidiene
Femal Haan Sidar
Great War Breaking
3000 Years Passed since Great War 3000 Years Passed since Breaking
Palace of Profits White Tower
Sisters of Light Eye Sedai
Sisters of Dark Black Sisters
Prelate Amyrlin Seat
Richard Rand
Baka Ban Mana, Daharans Aiel
The Imperial Order Seanchan
Sword of Truth Callandor

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Creating an Urdu Translation Glossary with C#

After a long time I have come back to C#. My limited skills allow me to do some things only with text processing and as I trained my self, my little silly looking C# scripts deal with file operations, getting word frequencies, getting counts from different text files etc etc. As I use C# as Python or other scripting language should be used, to write small programs to do tiny miny things, so I consider myself less of a programmer. But still I am in between a layman and a programmer, and can write a few bits of code. This time, after several months when I came back to C#, it was the urge to create an Urdu Glossary which can work with OmegaT. OmegaT is an open source translation memory tool, and I use it for most of my translations. And I need dictionary constantly as well, but the dictionary I use Urdu Web Lughat which is written in C# 2 and fits my purpose very well, when I add this Lughat File instead of default file which has only a few thousand words. This file has 92661 words and expressions which usually provide me insight for the correct translation, not to mention several other Urdu lughats have been merged with original few thousand words file to create this file. Well it serves the purpose, but it creates problem as well. I have to type each word in its lemma form i.e. if it is a verb in with third form e.g. got, I’ll have to write fist form get to get the meaning. Other problems are with the application.
urdu-web-lughat
Urdu Web Lughat
As the picture shows, capability to search the desired word from Google, Wikitionary, and Urdu Wikipedia as been added to it. This is done by default Internet Explorer Engine provided for C# 2005, but it creates problem while using in higher versions of Windows e.g. Windows 7. Each time I seek a word, it will show 2 or more dialogue boxes showing this error.
lughat-error
Urdu Web Lughat Error
I think I’ve the source code and can fix the problem by simply disabling this feature. But my other problem remains, that is typing the word each time, it takes too much time. So I was seeking for a solution. The solution I figured out was simple, put the lughat file in OmegaT somehow. And that’s possible through dictionary or glossary setup of the program. I find the dictionary process of OmegaT quite complicated (it requires Star Dict format). So I think its more feasible to put a glossary file instead (which is in this format word-tab-meaning). This was easy for me. I wrote a regular expression to match the lughat file’s xml and to extract each word meaning node (Don’t tell me it would have been easy with xml parser, I do not know it so regex was best for me). So here is the code I used to convert the nodes of xml in tab separated text file with each word meaning pair on new line.
public static void test ()
        {
            string match = "\\<I\\>\\s*\\<w\\>(?<Word>[^><]+)\\</w\\>\\s*\\<m\\>(?<Meaning>[^><]+)\\</m\\>\\s*\\</I\\>";
            string text = File.ReadAllText(@"G:\Software\Dictionary\dictionary.xml");
            Console.WriteLine(text.Length);
            //Console.Read();
            MatchCollection m = Regex.Matches(text, match);
            StreamWriter sw = new StreamWriter(@"G:\Software\Dictionary\Glossary.txt", true);
            string word = "";
            string meaning = "";
            Console.WriteLine(m.Count);
            //Console.Read();
            for(int i=0; i<m.Count; i++)
            {
                word = Regex.Replace(m[i].Groups["Word"].Value, "[\\r\\n]+", " ");
                meaning = Regex.Replace(m[i].Groups["Meaning"].Value, "[\\r\\n]+", " ");
                sw.WriteLine(word+"\t"+meaning);
                Console.WriteLine(word);
            }
            sw.Close();
        }
I know it could be improved a lot, but it did the work and did it pretty soon. I put the glossary file in OmegaT project folder as it was required (/project/glossary/Glossary.txt) and that’s done.
OmegaT-with-UrduGlossary1
OmegaT with Glossary 1
I was able to see the word meaning for each sentence in the glossary box in lower right box. It was quite a help for me and reduced my time. But then came the other problem: I still had to go to dictionary and type the lemma forms of verbs and plural nouns, so there was no meaning available for worked, working, works but only for the 1st  form i.e. work. This was quite frustrating for me because the actual problem was still there. So I decided to add the other forms of the words which had more than one forms. I decided to add new lines in the glossary for each form of verb, and add lines for plural forms of nouns as well. The idea was simple enough, but to accomplish it I had to grab a lemma list. Fortunately, being a corpus linguistics student, I know one out on internet. E_Lemma.txt has been created for Word Smith Tools, but I used it for my purpose. The code I used to extract lemmas of each word, and add them to new glossary file is below.
public static void Main(string[] args)
        {
            string[] lines = File.ReadAllLines(@"G:\Software\Dictionary\Glossary.txt");
            string[] lemmas = File.ReadAllLines(@"F:\Corpus Related\e_lemma.txt");
            string word = "";
            string meaning = "";
            string lemma = "";
            StreamWriter sw = new StreamWriter(@"G:\Software\Dictionary\Glossary2.txt", true);
            int count = 1;
            foreach(string line in lines)
            {
                Console.WriteLine(count+" of "+lines.Length);
                word = Regex.Split(line, "\t")[0].Trim();
                meaning = Regex.Split(line, "\t")[1].Trim();
                lemma = giveLemma(word, lemmas);
                if(lemma!="")
                {
                    foreach(string lemma1 in lemma.Split(' '))
                    {
                        sw.WriteLine(lemma1+"\t"+meaning);
                        Console.WriteLine(lemma1+"\t"+meaning);
                    }       
                }
                else
                {
                    sw.WriteLine(word+"\t"+meaning);
                    Console.WriteLine(word+"\t"+meaning);
                }
                count++;
            }
            sw.Close();
        }
        public static string giveLemma (string word, string[] lemmas)
        {
            string toReturn = "";
            string lemma1 = "";
            string lemma2 = "";
            foreach(string lemma in lemmas)
            {
                lemma1 = Regex.Split(lemma, "->")[0].Trim();
                lemma2 = Regex.Split(lemma, "->")[1].Trim();
                if(word==lemma1)
                {
                    toReturn += lemma1 + " " + Regex.Replace(lemma2, ",", " ");
                }
            }
            return toReturn;
        }
As it can be seen, the task is pretty simple.
  • Get each line from previously made glossary file.
  • Split the word and meaning.
  • Pass the word to another function, along with the lemma list (got from e_lemma.txt file) and return all possible forms of a verb or a noun.
  • At the end write a new line for “word-tab-meaning” pair for each lemma form of verb or noun.
  • And if there is no lemma, simply write the original word meaning pair.
The task was simple but the code was quite inefficient, so it took a long time to do this task. It took almost 1.5 hour to do it. But it was done and worked like a charm. See Smile
OmegaT-with-UrduGlossary2
OmegaT with Glossary 2
So a glossary for Urdu Translators working with OmegaT is available. And of course it can be downloaded from here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Discourse Analysis of English Fantasy Novels

Well, its good to be back. Back from a long journey with Richard Cyfer and his lover Kahlan Amnell. Winking smile  You know, it’s hard for me to be away for long from such stories. In last few years I’ve found these English high fantasy novels quite attractive, more precisely kind of seductive for me. I can’t stop reading stories like Harry Potter, Wheel of Time, Codex Alera, and now it is Sword of Truth. I was away from internet, actually coming online just to complete translation that I’ve to deliver to Khawar on daily basis, otherwise I was in winter sleep with handsfree in my ears listening SoT 1: Wizard’s First Rule.
WizardsFirstRule
Wizard's First Rule
SowrdofTruth
The Sword of Truth
Richard-and-Kahlan-Sword-of-Truth
Richard Cyfer and Kahlan Amnell
SoTSeries
SoT Series
The story is quite pleasant. It has all the elements I need in a story. It is mysterious and full of weird things. The author has made his imagination wild, as wild as he could and grabbed the things which get attention of a reader like me, bind me to the book and urge to complete it. The story is full of suspense, breath taking suspense that you dare not stop listening. It is full of magic, strange worlds, strange powers, a sizeable villain and of course, the hero and heroin. You see, everything is in place, the story is a master piece of author’s imagination, a full fledged fantasy novel (series actually) with all the ingredients a fantasy novel can have.
The hero is a rare person, a unique character who is descendent of an ancient wizard family, he is meant to rule, born with power i.e. the gift. The heroin is unique of her kind, she is a confessor, from an ancient magic bearing lot of women who could use their power to capture the mind of anyone with a touch only. She is last left of her kind, others are killed. Ohh yeah, there is a reasonably good villain as well. As all villains do mostly, his father was villain so he is raised to be a villain, two steps ahead of his father in cruelty. And there are good supporting characters. The hero’s old friend, the great old wizard, the boundary warden, a warrior, and other minor characters. The hero and heroin can never be one because of the power she possess, she if she touches him he will loose his personality and become a pet to her. This really creates a sympathy for them. Well, they manage to be together at last, after all heroes are meant to find ways to meet their beloveds (it’s a universal truth Open-mouthed smile).
I really like such novels but after listening (not reading but listening, I like audiobooks for English) at least 3 series and over 20 books, I think I can figure out a common pattern under each such story. They might have a technical name for them, but I’ve observed and then formed a theory to explain the structure of these stories (the fantasy ones I read so far). Apart from the strange and weird worlds they create, they have lots of things common. Perhaps that’s needed because story needs something to move on, a motive, so the motive is provided through a certain pattern. Well we are going to discuss that pattern, or in more precise terms lets have a look on the overall Discourse of such novels (Harry Potter, Codex Alera, Wheel of Time, Sword of Truth).
  • The names e.g. Wheel of Time, Sword of Truth an like, they seem to follow same pattern (although not true for all).
  • The story starts with the world being tore apart by evil forces. They are getting strong, the end of time is near.
  • The world of the story is totally strange and weird. In cases like Harry Potter, it’s built upon ordinary familiar world as a hidden part, otherwise its totally unearthly with commonality of basics of life (characters are humans, there are trees and animals etc.) but other things are different, additions by the wild imagination of the author. All main characters are human (as far are these 4 series are concerned) with addition of other magical, unearthly creatures.
  • The world has a Creator, but he doesn’t interfere with the matters of humans. So they have to save the world on their own. But he usually provides the the ingredients , to be precise the hero of the story.
  • The hero is—as said earlier in the discussion of SoT—a person who is gifted with special powers. He is ordinary person in the beginning. He doesn’t know how to use the powers, mostly he denies to be the world saver, he runs away but the evil forces give him hard time, try to kill him, they tease him so much that he finally becomes an angry cat from a running mouse. Winking smile So he fights back, he learns to use his powers, and becomes lion from angry cat and plans for the final fight. ( I am tired of these final fights, but as you can see this is the discourse structure of such novels, they cannot deviate, so final fights are must for a hero).
  • The heroin, how can a novel be without a heroin Smile. So there is always at least 1 heroin or otherwise as much as the hero thinks he should have Open-mouthed smile (refer to Wheel of Time, the hero has 3 heroines and he loves them all simultaneously). I am quite a jealous of all heroes Winking smile. The heroines are not ordinary females, they’ve an important part in the novel, they possess a unique power which aid the hero several times in the story. They fight side by side with the hero in battle with the evil. One might say they share battle and bed simultaneously, and this adds to the soft side of story, the urge to read on. Well, that’s a debatable thing whether heroines should have such liberties Smile.
  • The villain is a wicked person or thing (non-human entity) who want to rule the world. So he taps the thousands of years old dark powers, he try to get the powers, to be a ruler and to become immortal. During his struggle he fears the hero and tries to kill him or lure him to his side, and thus the story starts, the old conflict of good and bad starts which will end at the end.
  • The story goes on for several books. Each book is a new struggle for the hero and heroine. The hero especially has a hard time, but he develops and gets mature, he becomes wiser and masters more powers, prepares for the final fight with the villain. During the progress of story he might loose some people (minor characters) but heroine should be with him till end (otherwise at least I would not read such a story, that’s why if there is a suspicion of any kind I have a habit to confirm that the royal pair is alright, safe and sound at the end of novel, hope so you understood how do I do this Winking smile).
  • The last novel of the series is the climax. The hero and villain are in hand to hand combat. They fight, use powers of that world, try to kill each other. As you know hero is a person with not so complete knowledge, the villain is master of powers but hero is rather raw as compared to him. But the hero manages to defeat him because villain is a damn fool full of pride who misses trivial things. Thus the hero wins and the world, which is usually a mess now, starts recovering under the holy command of the hero and, of course, the heroine.
  • Another commonality is the presence of one or more supporting characters which help the hero learn to use powers. They may be permanent or temporary, friends or foes, they help him learn somehow. As he is unique and rare, so he manages to learn quickly enough which can save his guts and the world.
Well, perhaps this is not a Discourse Analysis. But it is an analysis, the purpose was to seek a common structure of such stories. I don’t know if I was able to get the goal, but this much is sure that you would enjoy this post. And if you have something to add, most welcome, comments are always welcome.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Killer Topics for Blogging

Bloggers are writers, but unlike traditional writers they are not supposed to be writing only when they have “mode”. If you are in the market, if you want to survive and if you want your readers to continue coming on your blog, you’ve to keep on pushing yourself. Blog posts get old in hours so you have to build new. Posts are read and forgotten, and then they demand more. Same as today people eat, and then demand more to eat. So the experts create “stimuli” for the land to produce quickly and efficiently i.e. fertilizers, they create medicine for cattle and chicken to “produce” faster whether it is milk or eggs or meat. So bloggers are like a commercially breaded commodity, they are supposed to produce, and keep on producing. This process of pushing themselves hard, writing more frequently even if one has no desire to write, extracting every bit of creativeness from the mind creates a hollow effect in the mind. Blogger does not spend much time in writing as much he spends on thinking what to write. The problem is not to create a post, problem is to create a topic around which the post will be woven. Don’t worry, I am with you in this barren land of blogging. When it is “blossom” or “spring” on me, I keep on writing, the topics keep on popping up in my mind and I keep on flowing on the fertile waters of this season. But the “spring” is not always like this. There are times, as there are times for Pakistan now rains are killing then drought will be killing, so there are times when “spring” ends, the springs of water become dry, rains stop pouring down, the sky is hot and bitter, and mind is barren. At these times a blogger feels helpless, or let me admit, I feel helpless, lonely, empty handed, drifting in a void, having a hollowness within me and visiting my blog’s admin page time and again, clicking on New Post button, sometimes opening it writing a few words and closing the opened tab, other times closing the browser just after clicking on new post, shutting down or putting away the PC, looking for a refuge from this emptiness, to seek something, anything to write about. Well, these are hard times for a blogger or perhaps a writer, he wants to write but he does not know what to write. So folks after this long, sad preface which most probably was not able to make a similar effect around you Winking smile, I would like to share a few ideas to write blogs posts on.

  • Surf the waves. Write on the HOT TOPICS. Write about what people are crazy about this time. Write on an update, a new OS, a new gadget, a new phenomenon, a new website, a new service. But make sure its hot for a wide variety of people, its not that you are having a hot thing behind your house and you start writing about it. Open-mouthed smile
  • Review a new gadget, OS, Linux Distribution, Smart Phone, Mobile Application or a Programming Language.
  • Write about a problem you encountered, and managed to solve.
  • Write your reactions what you see around you.
  • Write about your life experiences, reflections, professional life and about your city, province, country.
  • Read, read and lots of read then react and analyse what you have read.
  • And if you can’t do it, go to Google and search killer topics for blogging Winking smile

So if you were hoping for a magic, this isn’t anything like that, there is no shortcut to success. It’s a long way full of hardness, one has to suffer for a good creation same as a mother suffers for her baby. Posts are like children, and children are not purchased ready made, they are part of your soul, parted from you not so easily. If you do not write this way, then you are not a true writer, hence not an original blogger. Enjoy Blogging!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Why I don't like Unity [Ubuntu]

Well people have written pages long posts about the pros and cons of Unity, the Shuttleworth born Ubuntu GUI which replaced classic Gnome. People like it, I admit. People use it, love it but the case is that I do not like it. I was never comfortable with Unity and I, sorry to say, had to quit Ubuntu due to this Unity thing. I am an occasional user of Linux, but I used to have 1 Linux system standby with Windows one. For a long time, I've never tried to install Ubuntu. On every new version I download and write the CD, boot and see how desktop looks like and then reject it. Thanks to Linux Mint somehow I've a reasonable desktop. But I do not like it either, the hybrid nature of this distro, half Ubuntu half customisation often look distasteful to me. I DO NOT like Unity. Because: (a few points only :-) )
  • It thinks that every person in the world is left handed.
  • It changes the routine and standard desktop usage. I can't go every time on left to close or open a window. I've built a habit to have close, min, max button on right side for 10 years now. Its hard to break the habit.
  • It thinks that everyone is a Mac user. By God I've never seed a Mac running system in my whole life (well, a iPad 2.0 is another thing I happened to see one ;-) )
  • The launcher is pathetic when it comes to customization. For God sake give some room, give some choice, everyone does not want that God Damn launcher on left side.
  • It was meant for netbooks and now Ubuntu is promoting this "thing" as Microsoft is promoting new version of Windows, the 8th one. These hours could be used to enhance kernel integration, driver development and for Gnome enhancements. Even if they had created customization options, perhaps it could be acceptable.
Well little bit emotional. :-/. But I really don't like Unity. I hope in next version there is an option to revert back to classical Gnome, or I am switching to KDE even if it is not well supported. :-(

Sunday, September 11, 2011

How to Improve Your English Pronunciation

Correct pronunciation is considered essential for language learners. It is true that 100% native like pronunciation is not possible for a non native speaker but one should try for maximum accuracy. A language is best learnt from its native speakers. So for the sake of good English pronunciation, the best sources are the native speakers of English. English has an advantage that a hell lot of supporting material is available, along with multimedia resources that can be used easily to make your English language abilities better.
The pronunciation and listening or in other words speaking and listening are interconnected. One cannot speak if s/he hasn’t listened. Listening is input for you, listening is the base on which the building of your speaking abilities is built. So good listening can not only improve your comprehension abilities but it ultimately helps you improve your pronunciation and speaking skills. If you are a good computer and internet user and spend your some time online, there are a lot of resources available online which can help you improve your pronunciation. Here I am going to discuss a few resources that I, being an English student and Language Teacher, found and got benefit from.
  • Use free dictionary to get meaning and pronunciation of an English word. Click on speaker icon present next to the word.
  • Use Google Translate to get English to Urdu (or your language) translation as well as pronunciation of English word.
  • Listen to podcasts.
  • Listen documentaries and other clips posted on Youtube.com. It will not give you pronunciation of specific word but your general listening and speaking will improve.
  • Watch English movies. Torrentz.com is a good place to get pirated versions of English movies. Older movies (2 to 3 years old) usually have good quality as well as a subtitles file with them. This can help a lot initially to understand the words spoken by native speakers, and thus improve your pronunciation.
  • There are not only movies available, but there are TV Series also available. A TV series is good as compared to movie in various ways, in my point of view. It has a long story, a TV series can last for several years, viewer can have better understanding of story, context and characters. A TV series is usually in Standard English (while movies sometimes get characters which do not speak in Standard Accent). So you may select a TV series of your own choice and get it downloaded, and watch an episode whenever you get time. You’ll feel that you’ve developed an interest, love the story and characters, and understand what the characters say. I love to watch Science Fiction series like Star Trek The Next Generation, Star Trek Deep Space Nine, Stargate SG1. And it has helped me a lot in improving the pronunciation as well as listening comprehension.
  • Listen Audio Books. If you love to read books, then do not read but listen. There are audio books available for every popular novel or story of today, and  you can get them from torrentz.com. I love to listen fantasy stories like Wheel of Time, Harry Potter, Codex Alera. This not only gives you very good pronunciation and listening practice but also improves your expression and vocabulary.
  • The traditional sources: use Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary or Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. The CDs can be purchased from market or installation files can be downloaded from torrent websites. OALD is my favourite for pronunciation of different Standard Englishes. Currently it provides British and American English pronunciation which can help a beginner to distinguish the pronunciation differences.
  • Real communication has no alternate. If you happen to have a friend in North America, Australia, Canada or England and s/he speaks English. Do contact her/him and ask for voice call on Skype or Google Talk. A spontaneous interaction with native speakers will increase your listening and speaking abilities alike. And you may get a very close net friend as well. Smile
So these were a few tips to improve pronunciation and listening skills. I would write a few tips for vocabulary improvement and other areas of language development in up coming posts. Stay tuned!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Rank Shifting in Systemics Functional Grammar

Rank Shifting is a major concept in sentence analysis in Systemic Functional Linguistics and Grammar. The concept of Rank Shifting helped us a lot to learn how a unit of different level can be brought down to create interesting linguistics structures. The concept of Rank Shifting does not exist in traditional grammar of English. Although it exists in all modern grammars of English in their own particular way. e.g. Phrase Structure Grammar labels a rank shifting clause as a sentence. This model does not recognise or label the concept as Rank Shifting but it acknowledges the existence of bigger units within/ at the places of smaller units.

Rank Shifting can be at various levels. It can be at word level, at phrase level, at clause level. The best example of Rank Shifting can be seen at qualifier position in a noun phrase. e.g.
The candidate of the minority won the election.
The candidate who was living in that city for long lost the election.
The italicized parts show rank shifting at word level from two different levels. Example 1 shows that a phrase is being used as a qualifier. At this place there should have been a single word but a group of words was used.
The second example shows how a clause can be rank shifted at qualifier level. This is also an example of rank shifting at word level.

Rank Shifting shows us how the grammar of language works with minimal possible labour to produce unlimited number of sentences. The concept of systems within systems can be seen while analysing a Rank Shifted Unit, when a whole system has been brought down to create density in language. It can be seen that Rank Shifting can be used to create complexity in structure of one's language. This concept can be useful while studying the style of an author. Rank Shifting can be a very good tool for an author to use creatively in his/her piece of literature.

Add Open DNS in PTCL Broadband

PTCL Broadband sucks? Yeah it does. I am suffering from last two days. I cannot open a web page. Firefox just "Looks up" and Chrome tells me there is "dns resolve problem". I call them and file a complaint. After a few hours it gets restored but the next day same problem. It really sucks when you are in a mood to work and there is not internet despite of no loadshedding. So this time I changed the DNS server to Open DNS. It provides good functionality including content filtering and network stats etc. You can manage your home network very well through Open DNS. So go to Opendns.com and get their registered (its free!). Select Home for account type and then proceed with registration. Afterwards it will guide you to setup open DNS on your computer, router etc. Follow detailed step by step guide with screenshots and get rid of your ISP's crawling DNS service.
Enjoy!
PS: If you are already a geek and know how to change DNS these are the addresses. Go to your network properties, IPv4 properties and change DNS server address to these:
208.67.222.222
208.67.222.220

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pakistani Blog Aggregators

Once upon a time when I was a new blogger and didn't know very well about promoting my blog. And there was less trend to use Facebook, Twitter and the like to promote your blog and create reading community. People used to say that Blog Aggregators are the way to get traffic and reach wider audience. So for my Urdu Blog, and for this English one as well, I always searched for Blog Aggregators. The main focus was to get Pakistani Blog Aggregators but at times I tried to find other aggregators as well e.g. an aggregator related to Linguistics and ELT. During all this time searching for Pakistani Blog Aggregators I've found these (so far) which can help new and old bloggers to promote their websites. Because the way is old, but the effectiveness to reach wider audience is still there. People like things centralized, they don't want to visit blog to blog for updates so a Blog Aggregator is a good place to tell your reader that here is a new post. :-)
Ok let's come to business and start reviewing the Blog Aggregators I know so far.

Bloggers.pk 

Actually this is the very first aggregator I encountered while running my Urdu blog back in 2007. And until recently I was unaware of anyother ones. (That's another story that a Google search revealed a handful of them which we are going to discuss here, shortly.) This blog aggregator is good one and for a long time I've been a fan of it. I used to go to its link in my free time and read what English "Pakistanis" had to say. ;-)

Pros
  • Simple and clean interface
  • Listing of posts, no categories so reader can see every post regardless of category or blog type
  • Rating Like or Dislike
  • A ranking for top blogs
  • Highlights in terms of top posts
Cons 
  • In beta stage for a long time.
  • No response to emails sent though dev@bloggers.pk (I've asked to add my English blog several times, didn't find an answer).
  • No automatic way to submit your blog.
  • No RSS feed icon visible

Tea Break

Well this one I got while maintaining Khawar's news website. As I work as a translator for this website, sometimes I've to post the news as well. While visiting the website I found out the link backs in comments from Tea Break Pk and followed the link. That's not to mention that I immediately submitted both of my blogs here.

Pros
  • Interactive interface and good looking
  • Featured posts
  • Popular posts and comments
  • Proper website navigation
  • About, Join us, Bloggers everything needed by a new visitor
  • RSS feed icon visible and present
  • Feedback, Twitter and Facebook links
  • Categorisation to choose for the reader
Cons 
  • I felt difficult to go through segmented parts because I want to read everything until I am saturated. So might not be a negative point in your opinion.

Pak Positive: Pakistani Bloggers

Well this one I got from Google. It looked a kind of elite to me, when I saw appraisal notes from New York Times etc on the header of it. But that's my perception, let's see what it has to offer.

Pros
  • Interactive and rich looking interface
  • Positive reviews from world class newspaper and news agencies.
  • Guest posts
  • Member blogs
  • Join us link
  • Post snippets instead of mere listing (more appealing)
  • Email subscription
  • Social media i.e. food for Facebook, Twitter addicts on their very account on social media
  • A collection of professional looking Pakistani Blogs.
Cons 
  • Kind of restrictive and draining policy to submit your blog e.g. blog should be 3 months old, at least 25 original posts, place the linking badge where it is visible. Well, I should admit I was little bit annoyed on this much work :-D. As I am an easy going person, this may be a fault of mine not the blog aggregator.
  • No RSS link. I cannot survive without an RSS, so I do not subscribe to Pak Positive.

Pakistan Blogs

Well this one was a surprise for me, perhaps you may find yourself amazed as well to see what they've done. I got to this one through google of course. The unique thing for it is that it is created using blogspot. I cannot imagine a more innovative use of a free blogging service. It is still unclear to me how the admin updates the posts, as a blog aggregator should update automatically and blogspot does not allow any such facility. If you know please leave a comment clarifying how does it work actually.

Pros
  • Innovative use of Blogspot, a free service
  • Presence on Social Media
  • Email subscription
  • A cool AJAX based interface to read blogs. Click on Read Full Post icon and it will open actual blog suing AJAX. I loved this feature.
  • Comments, Tweet and Facebook Share for individual posts on the aggregator
Cons 
  • No RSS. When I tried to use default blogger RSS (just add /rss after a blogger/blogspot address, it'll lead to the rss feed of the blog), I got the link but the subscription didn't go well. As this is not using a dedicated hosting and aggregating software, the feed is not well formatted and readable. You don't know where the blog title ended and post title started and where did the body start. So I had to abandon it, and use Pak Blogging instead.
  • Looks like manually updated, since blogger/blogspot does not provide auto-update features (apparently).

Pak Blogging

Perhaps got its link from Cric Nam, or google but it looks promising. And more is that I sue its feed to read latest activities of Pakistani bloggers.

Pros
  • Simple and clean interface. The one I like, list of posts no categories scroll down and read whatever you want.
  • Contact, Badges, all the stuff a new visitor needs.
  • Straightforward Submit Blog link. No worries, no restrictions.
  • Categories and Recent Posts widgets for ease of browsing
  • RSS feed link, the one I love to subscribe instead of emails
 Cons
  • Well I suppose nothing is perfect so they should have something here as well. So Too Much Commercialization and adds on first page ;-)
Well I guess that would be all for today. I would suggest all of my readers to submit their blogs to these aggregators and every possible feed aggregator they come across on Internet (provided that it relates to their blog's field, origin and title :-D ). And do not forget to add to this list if I've missed something. Comments are always welcome. Have a nice day folks. :-)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My Google+ Wishlsit

Ok you might find 100 pages on google search containing g+ wish lists. But as a unique entity, I like to voice my opinion and add a tiny miny wish list to existing ones.
  1. I hate animated gifs. There should be a way to block such posts. Mind it, the posts not the person. ;-)
  2. There should be a way to connect my blogspot blog to G+ account. So I can share my feed on it automatically. And it should NOT be like Buzz, which copies whole post as a new entry. I hate such solutions, I want people on my blog not that they read all of it on their G+ stream.
  3. There should be Applications. :-D Well, some might say it will add only crap as it does on Facebook. But it feels good to have Applications. You consider yourself having more liberty and choice. :-)
  4. There should be a groups kind of thing. Or at leas they should integrate existing google groups in g+. I am afraid that won't be a good idea though. Google groups are not meant to be integrated, they are stand alone service.
  5. There should be Professional Profiles or Pages. So the sites or brands can promote their business. But it looks like as Google's real name policy is kind of strict, its not gonna happen so easily.
  6. I want Translation of Comments and Posts on the fly. I hate when my foreign friends write in their native tongues and that is shared on my stream. What the HELL, if I can't understand those posts why they appear in my stream (same with Facebook activity feed, but they are gonna add on the fly translation support for comments). Damn Google Translate is the best freely available translation software I've ever known. They can easily integrate G+ with Google Translate service.
  7. A descent way to Send Messages. Yeah yeah I know that one can send your friends email based messages through their profiles, they'll appear in gmail as a profile message. I don't like half solutions. There should be a way to interact with someone who is not in your circles. You should be able to send him/ her a message, or at least ask him/her why s/he bothered to add you in his/her circles. That's not possible through gmail based service.
Ops lucky seven :-). I am unable to remember any further 'wish'. Well, technically it should be in G+ feedback. But just to change the way, let them search on Google what their users say about their + service ;-).
Enjoy Googling and Enjoy G+.

How to Add Pics in Table in Blogger

The new Blogger interface is really cool and provides lots of features to handle image uploading. But the editor is still a pity and you cannot arrange the images. Last day I struggled for 1 hour to arrange a few pics in my post. The aim was to arrange 2 or 3 pictures in one row so they may be looking nice and cleanly arranged. But I could never do it in Blogger's post editor. You can change the size, you can change the alignment but you cannot change the position of the picture from 1 row to another. I tried another solution, i.e. to put each picture in a table cell and thus to arrange them. But again, we cannot insert a table, if we create one using HTML mode we cannot put our pictures in it easily. That's for geeks folks. So for an easy way to put pics on blogger. Follow me.
  1. Download Windows Live Writer.
  2. Install it, afterwards you will be asked to setup blog account.
  3. Enter your Blogger.com credentials and setup for the blog you want to post on with Live Writer.
  4. Now open up the pictures folder in a new Explorer window.
  5. Start writing a new post in Live Writer name it Test Post.
  6. Go to Insert tab (the interface is familiar for Office 2007, 2010 users: Ribbon Interface).
  7. Here you'll find Table function. Click and it'll open up a new dialogue for table configuration.
  8. Select number of cells and rows as per your arrangement scheme. Select cell width, default width worked well for me by the way.
  9. Click OK and a table is inserted in the blank post body section.
  10. Now Drag and Drop each picture (from pics folder) in each cell. The picture will be automatically adjusted as per cell width.
  11. When you are finished. See in Home tab, second separator Publish. There is an option Post Draft to Blog. Click it and Live Writer will start publishing your draft post to your blogger account. It will not minimize but you can do other things in meanwhile.
  12. As soon as it is finished, go to Posts section of your blogger dashboard, and see there is a draft named Test Post.
  13. Click on Edit and the pictures are in front of you arranged cleanly in table cells. You can see the Preview to make sure that they'll look nice on your blog. And now you have two ways.
  14. Continue editing this draft, rename it and add your other content and Publish it.
  15. Or you can copy the pictures code by clicking on HTML mode in post editor and paste that code in your original post (of course through HTML tab). And you are done :-)
You may decide to use Live Writer as your default post writing tool as well but I like to do online things in my browser and leave it if it is absolutely necessary. Enjoy Blogging!