Turkey And Google Language Tools: Feewing Wucky?

I’m happy to say that I’ve been blogged about, and partially translated, in another language for the first time! How cool is that? Well, actually, I’m not sure how cool it is. I can’t read Turkish. Theoretically, the entire post could be a great string of creative and exotic euphemisms describing how much my blog is silly rubbish and I’m a smelly monkey. Depending on how creative it was, it actually might be even better than an impartial or complementary post.

As a guy with a decent ability to scour the internet to find the information I need, I decided to take my language problem online. Immediately AltaVista’s BabelFish implementation came to mind. I’ve used it the past when I’m trying to decipher the finer points of technical pointers and problem resolutions I find from time to time on German and French language newsgroups. (Having had a small amount of training on both languages, I always try to figure out what’s being said first, before using the cheat-o-matic BabelFish.) No dice. Babel fish does not translate from, or to, Turkish.

The same holds true for another player in the translation market, WorldLingo. The offer quite a few different translations, but up to a limit of 150 words. (*cough* LAME! *cough*, *cough*) Since other online translators don’t have this limitation, I don’t see myself using them all that much in the future. But I would have used them this time, had they translated Turkish text.

And then there were odd sites like Learning Practical Turkish, that didn’t so much offer translation services, as much as erotic Turkish texts, Turkish idioms and a dictionary of “Off Color” Turkish words and phrases. Since my search for knowledge was reaching a dead end, it might as well be funny. :)

Speaking of funny, somewhere along the way, I came across a link to Google Languages Tools. Google does everything else under the sun, why not translations? And while they do seem to have a pretty comprehensive list of translations (including those not involving English as either a “from” or a “to”), I was again out of luck when it came to Turkish. So why did this page come up in my search? Well, because Google offers it’s interface in Turkish:

Turkish Google

Pretty cool, huh? But wait it gets cooler. And funnier. Here’s a few of my favorite “translated” Google interfaces:

Bork Bork Bork (The Muppet’s Swedish Chef)

Google Bork Bork Bork

Elmer Fudd

Elmer Fudd Google

And a few more…

OK, so what have I learned? Not all that much, really. Significant language and cultural barriers still exist in some areas. And I’ve found an area where all online translators can make improvements in their offerings: translate Turkish! Do it for me, so I can feel the love (or disdain) of my fellow bloggers in Turkey!

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5 Tips For Success In I.T. Consulting

You don’t have to look like this to be a good I.T. consultant.[This post has been written in response to the group writing project being run by problogger.]

I’ve been an independent I.T. consultant for nearly 8 years now, and I love the life. And I often wonder why more people don’t do what I do, especially those that find themselves stuck in a salaried job they hate. The answer is always seems to boil down to fear of instability and the unknown.

I think perhaps if people had a better understanding of how consulting works, and what it takes to be successful at it, they be more likely to try it. That’s where this list comes in. Perhaps it will help to alleviate some fears and empower some people to make a positive change professionally. For others, it may make it clear to them that their traditional salaried job is the way to go. Either way, a good thing.

1.) Learn to love interviewing. An interview is often the thing that stands between you and that next contract. It is to your advantage to make interviewing one of your talents. How do you do that? Practice and preparation are the methods of my interviewing madness. I try to make a point of doing “throw away” interviews.

A “throw away interview” is an interview for a job I’m almost certain I either won’t get based on my qualifications, or am not likely to take if offered. (Some “throw aways” have surprised me and turned into great contracts!) It’s a great way to get practice, and develop your personal sales pitch and I.T. anecdotes.

For preparation, I make a point of reviewing common interview questions, and all the information I can find on the business I’m about to interview with. I usually try to come up with a few questions for the interviewers ahead of time, so I’m ready when they ask if I have any questions for them. It’s generally considered a negative not to have at least one, and the more you get them talking about the business and the project, the more favorable opinion they’re likely to have of you! :)

2.) Socialize and keep in touch with former clients and co-workers. You can’t be everywhere at once, so it’s important to maintain a network of professional contacts who will vouch for your skills and pass along word of new contract opportunities to you when you need them. Though it’s not quite socializing, I recommend using a professional contact site like LinkedIn to help you manage your professional contacts, and save per contract recommendations. (I have been able to use these saved recommendations in the place of names and phone numbers a number

3.) Be flexible, embrace risk. I like to tell people I’m in the business of selling risk mitigation. It’s true, I actually am paid for hours spent writing code, but part of what determines my rate of pay is the risk I free my clients from. I free them from the risk of hiring a bad employee. If I don’t work out, I can be let go on a moment’s notice. I’m also first on the chopping block if there are budgeting cut backs. How do I deal with the uncertainty? By charging higher rates than salaried people can expect to receive, and by building up my financial reserves. You’d be surprised how stable a contractor’s life can be. :)

4.) Play with your technology. One question that always seems to come up in interviews is “what’s the most interesting thing you’ve done with technology X” or “describe the most interesting project you’ve worked on.” The people interviewing you sometimes look at you as neat new gadget for the office. What can you do, they wonder. What new things will this guy bring to our team? It pays to have an interesting tale or two about cool uses of technology. And if all you do is “glorified string parsing” (an actual quote from a former colleague), it’s a good idea to make up some project work for yourself at home. Build a tool, throw together a website, and make a point to do it with the coolest technology you can get your hands on. It’ll make it fun, and it’ll give you some serious geek cred.

5.) Keep track of trends, read relevant I.T. blogs and magazines. In order to continue to work in I.T., you need to constantly be learning new things. Or at the very least aware of the latest buzzworthy technology emerging in your area of expertise. If you don’t have time to do #4 (which is likely if you’re on a death-march project), you do have to pop a few blogs in Google Reader or flip through a technology meeting from time to time. As a consultant, it looks bad if you don’t at least have an idea of what somebody is talking about, even if it’s not directly related to your expertise. (Sorry, but it really does.)

And a special bonus pointer!

6.) Put your resume up on every career site you find. Monster, HotJobs, Dice, etcetera, you should have your resume up on all of them. While you are actively searching for that next gig, I recommend making small changes and updates to your resume every 2 weeks on these websites. Recruiters swarm on the most recently updated resumes and after around 2 weeks, your buzz, and therefor, your exposure to new contracts will be diminished.

[UPDATE: I missed the cut-off for the last day to top-5-goodness, but feel free to check out my double sized animal-related top 5!]

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Today’s The Day To Magnify Your Charitable Gift!

Fight Diabetes with Team Hanselman!If you’ve been waiting to make a charitable donation to the American Diabetes Association until it can do the most good, your wait is over. Starting today at noon PST (3 PM EST, 7 PM GMT) the donations you make through Team Hanselman will be matched by 7 blogs! Help us make our $50,000 goal!

The Links:

Thank you for your help!
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Are eBooks Actually Cheaper?

The Sony eBook ReaderIn previous posts, I’ve done a pretty good job of putting together a solid, if not slightly biased collection of information on the Sony Reader. I’ll admit it, I’m a borderline fanboy, I really enjoy my Sony Reader. I think they’re great, and I really hope it will be phenomenally successful. What’s in it for me? Greater availability of eBooks, at more competitive prices. I don’t get any kick-backs from Sony to hype the reader, I just genuinely think its a fun product in spite of its flaws. (At least I don’t get kick-backs yet. Sony, baby, let’s talk! 8) )

In an attempt to be a bit more objective and helpful to the steady flow of visitors looking for information on the Sony Reader, I’ve decided to investigate the accuracy of much-touted 20% discount on eBooks sold through the Sony eBook store. For comparison, I’ve selected Amazon.com. This is both because it’s really convenient, and because people who buy eBooks have likely purchased books from Amazon in the past.

Title Amazon Sony Savings %
The Secret $13.17 $13.59 -$0.42 -3.18%
The Tipping Point $8.97 $7.99 $0.98 10.92%
Freakonomics $16.77 $15.96 $0.81 4.83%
Einstein $19.20 $13.59 $5.61 29.21%
The Road $8.97 $7.96 $1.01 11.25%
Running with the Demon $7.99 $5.59 $2.40 30.03%
Wikinomics $16.35 $20.76 -$4.41 -26.97%
Step On a Crack $17.63 $14.39 $3.24 18.37%
Simple Genius $14.84 $15.19 -$0.35 -2.35%
The World Is Flat $16.50 $12.00 $4.50 27.27%
Getting Things Done $8.99 $12.00 -$3.01 -33.48%
Where Have All the Leaders Gone? $15.00 $13.59 $1.41 9.40%
 
Summary: $164.38 $152.61 $11.77 7.16%

I’m being honest here, I had no idea how this was going to turn out. (I was pulling for the Reader, but I was prepared to eat crow.) I selected books based mostly on name/cover recognition, assuming that books I recognize are likely to be books people are interested in buying. To improve my chances of being correct, I picked my books from the Amazon’s and Sony’s lists of best sellers. I have, of course, excluded books that are not yet available through the Sony Connect eBook store. I also tried to pick a few books that have been around a while but have solid name recognition. At least a few books on this list are now in paper back. Shipping costs have been excluded from consideration, but will alter the results for single book purchases in favor of Sony.

So based on my semi-scientific, semi-objective list, on average, it is to your advantage to buy eBooks from the Sony store. :D If you bought the entire list from the Sony store, you’d spend $152.61, saving $11.77 or 7.16% compared with a $164.38 Amazon purchase. (So much for the reported 20% savings.) What’s really interesting is that it is more expensive to buy from Sony in some cases. For example, for the privilege of having a digital copy of the book, you pay an extra $3.01 for Getting Things Done and $4.41 for Wikinomics. Clearly, if you were interested in just one of those books, your best bet is to buy it through Amazon (depending on how much you pay for shipping). If you were able to find Amazon prices for either of these in your local book shop, you’d clearly be ahead.

So what’s the bottom line? If you’re expecting the Sony Reader to pay for itself, you’d have to buy $21,875 worth of books to break even. If the average book is price is $12.72 (it is in this list), that means you’d need to buy roughly 1720 books. So I think it’s safe to say that the Sony Reader will never pay for itself based on purchases of bestsellers, at least for most people. (Of course, these figures do not take into consideration the volume eBooks available for free through sources like ManyBooks.net.)

OK, Brian, so why buy it? You need to buy this because you love to read. And because you love cool, compact gadgets that store a ton of stuff. If you’re looking for cost effectiveness, you need to either not buy it or take a chance at finding a deal on eBay. Or you could wait and see if the price comes down. I think it will, but I have nothing to base that on.

My previous posts on the Sony Reader:

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