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COMMUNET Home

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COMMUNET  November 1993, Week 1

COMMUNET November 1993, Week 1

Subject:

Re: Multi-lingual Community Software

From:

Jim Hart <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Communet: Community and Civic Network Discussion List

Date:

Tue, 2 Nov 1993 10:07:04 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (80 lines)

[log in to unmask] writes:
 
>A group here in Montreal is interested in trying to establish a
>community computing system. Because of our circumstances, it seems
>important that whatever software is finally adopted be capable (at the
>very least) of being able to handle both English and French character
>sets transparently.
 
We are very much a bi-lingual community, and are concerned with this issue.
 I don't think it is enough to just have the character sets.  Recently, I
read about a piece of software that claims 90% translation French-English
_on a PC_.  This might automate the process enough so that volunteers could
translate the most important information into both languages.
 
>Can someone (or someones) please advise me as to what our options for
>software would be ?.
 
We are, currently, baseing our system on existing BBSs and UNIX hosts, and
whatever software people are using.  This works, because we are using the
'uucp' protocol to move e-mail and Usenet news between the systems.  We
haven't located anyone running a French-only BBS, yet, but we intend to get
one going.  There is BBS software available which will support different
character sets.  The only wrinkle is that e-mail has to be 7-bit, which
can't handle the additional characters.  Haven't dealt with that, yet.
 
>
>Also, if anyone could (privately) e-mail a list of what the pros and
>cons are of becoming associated with the NPTN, I'd appreciate it.
 
I think you should contact npTn.  They have literature that spells out how
they do things.  [log in to unmask], or 216-247-5800.
 
>Although my bias would be to apply to the NPTN, this is not a
>sentiment shared among many of the local organisers.
 
We haven't affiliated with them, yet.  Nothing against the organization.
Their approach tends to be high-profile and "least-common-denominator",
and, they don't deal with the multi-lingual issue.  Also, from Ottawa's
experience, the centralized model is a real problem.  They have 22 phone
lines, and can't handle the volume.  People are frustrated with busy
signals all the time.  For me:
 
  1)  I prefer a low-profile approach, initially.  Minimizes the cost of
mistakes.  Allows us to learn as we grow and change course with experience
without a major disruption.  Helps protect the plan from nay-sayers and
power-mongers.
 
   2)  Why should people with Windows and Macs have to put up with a
character-based interface?
 
  3)  I don't like being dependent on one vendor with proprietary software.
 A couple of our local BBSs are based on FirstClass from SoftArc.  I have
heard that npTn is looking at recommending this for people who want a
graphical interface.  SoftArc has done an excellent job on the Mac, no
doubt about it, and, the character-based interface seems to be solid.
However, the Windows client has several bugs in it and they have been very
slow to fix them.  They also say they are planning to provide a full
front-end to the various Internet protocols.  I question whether they can
do it without having a lot of bugs, and, whether they can keep up with the
pace of change on the Internet.  After 20+ years in the computer business,
I just don't like to put all of my eggs in one basket, if I can help it.
I've been burned too many times.
 
  4)  It appears likely that Internet access will be available in the home
at some point.  When (and if) that happens, the infrastructure issues for
community networks will be much less of an issue.  We can stay focused on
providing information, instead.
 
A community network has two roles: communication and information.  We need
to keep those in mind, and not get lost in delivery issues.
---
James A. (Jim) Hart              Internet: [log in to unmask]
Dept. of Education                   uucp: uunet!bates!aubsch!jimh
23 High St.                           AOL: JAHart
Auburn, Maine  04212-0800           phone: 207-784-6431
USA                                   FAX: 207-784-2969
"The credit belongs to the (person) who is actually in the arena; ... so
that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know
neither defeat nor victory."  Theodore Roosevelt

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