Software Needs for a Language Documentation Project

In this post I take a look at some of the software needs of a language documentation team. One of my ongoing concerns of linguistic software development teams (like SIL International's Palaso or LSDev, or MPI's archive software group, or a host of other niche software products adapted from main stream open-source projects) is the approach they take in communicating how to use the various elements of their software together to create useful workflows for linguists participating in field research on minority languages. Many of these software development teams do not take the approach that potential software users coming to their website want to be oriented to how these software solutions work together to solve specific problems in the language documentation problem space. Now, it is true that every language documentation program is different and will have different goals and outputs, but many of these goals are the same across projects. New users to software want to know top level organizational assumptions made by software developers. That is, they want to evaluate how software will work in a given scenario (problem space) and to understand and make informed decisions based on the eco-system that the software will lead them into. This is not too unlike users asking which is better Android or iPhone, and then deciding what works not just with a given device but where they will buy their music, their digital books, and how they will get those digital assets to a new device, when the phone they are about to buy no-longer serves them. These digital consequences are not in the mind of every consumer... but they are nonetheless real consequences.
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Engagement Strategy

In my work with redesigning a NGO’s website, I have been recommending that the organization adopt and implement an engagement strategy. There are several challenges to this.

  1. There is the question: What is an engagement strategy which we are not doing now? Basically, what is the difference between engagement strategy and operations. – and certainly these are areas of organizations which need to have some symbiotic relationship.
  2. Another question has been: Why do we need an engagement strategy with our new website? – The new website is centrally managed, whereas operations are generally regionally managed.

So, the over simplistic answer is that if what a corporation presents themself as on their website is something which they are operationally not, then that presents certain discontinuities for persons viewing their operations and also viewing their website. This becomes evermore important as many potential clients for organizations first interact with that organization via the web. I first started blogging about engagement with regards to Language Development activities in a post titled: The Look of Language Development Websites.

However, engagement strategy goes beyond just presenting continuity. It gets into connecting potential clients with services offered or knowledge held by that organization. An engagement strategy for an NGO with a cause also speaks to how that NGO is going to target persons who are not aware of their cause and introduce them to the cause and provide options for those newly introduced persons to become part of a great solution for the problem just presented. This level of engagement is different than Public Relations, or brochure development (though both of these can be part of an engagement strategy).
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Email Befuddling

So, the common concern is:

If I put my email address "out there" on the web that spammers will get it and start sending me spam messages.

Well, that is a valid concern. There are scripts and crawlers which go around and look for email addresses. (And lets suppose that they also do not check for a robots.txt file.) These generally work by focusing on the syntax of the email addresses using Regular Expressions or finding the mailto: term in the HTML code. There are some things which can be done to prevent this from happening.

  • The best way is to use contact forms.
  • The second best way is to use JavaScript hiding. (Go here to read how to do this if you are running your own HTML pages, or here if you want a site which will create a JavaScript for you.)
  • The third best way is to use HTML characters for your email addresses.
  • One way that I severely dislike is to spell out the email address or phone number like (you see a lot of this on sites like craigslist and after a few spam text messages one understands why it is done): seven-one-seven or hugh dot paterson at.

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New Computer Set Up

Today I was looking at a new way to set up some monitors for my work computer. After we move to Eugene, Oregon my job should change a little. It looks like I will be doing some business consulting and some UX designing based on the outcomes of this business consulting. Then for “fun” I will also be working with an archive digitizing some linguistics texts and publishing a few items which have been sitting on my “To – Do” shelf. As I was considering this, I was thinking about my computer use habits and how much do I want to be in Eugene and indoors on my computer. Continue reading

Home Transformation Project

Finished the new office. – and put some new photos up in the living room just in time to move.

Router in Closet

Today I put my router in so that the Gigabit LAN network could fly...

Becky and I in the new office in November of 2011

Becky and I in the new office in November of 2011

We also set up a bunch of pictures on our wall...

We also set up a bunch of pictures on our wall… Just in time to move. Not exactly strait but close enough.

MacMini Server

I have been thinking about using a MacMini as a media / web server. I wonder if there might be some long-term financial benefit to running the server at home, with higher levels of RAM. Rather than paying an annual cost for a hosted solution.

There are several articles which have been interesting on the matter.

On using craigslist – rude or not

Craigslist is is like the classifieds in the news papper, but for free.

Becky and I have been looking for a car for a few weeks, we have been to a dealer and we have been looking online.

We want something with:

  • comfortable seats
  • cruise control
  • better than 30 mpg
  • a roof rack
  • a place for a hitch
  • a little bit on the heavy side so that it has some good handling

We are thinking that something like a Cross-over or a smaller SUV might work… We would have enjoyed the 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe, but the head rests were a pain.

I sold my car (Black Honda Accord) a few months back.

Hugh's Honda Front

Hugh's Honda Front

When I did, I took the car to a shop and the purchaser paid for an inspection on the car. I let them take it out for a test drive; made the VIN number available to the potential purchasers. (And the final purchaser was not first inquirer. I went through the process with one other person before them.) I would expect someone who is selling their car to show me the same courtesy. I as a buyer do not know how many hits have been on that particular listing.

Following some good sound financial management principles one should not spend before they know what they are getting. And the purchaser should not have to pay for the car before they test drive it.

If one is selling a car, as a buyer I expect to be able to test drive the car, research the car on CarFax, and take it to a shop and get a second opinion on the condition of the car. Additionally, when I buy a car, private party, I expect that any maintenance records would be turned over at the time of purchase as well.

With craigslist there must be a lot of very impolite people who try and take advantage of sellers. 2/3rds of the interactions I have had with people on the north side of Dallas, the sellers have been very distrusting of the buyers. This could be a result of the difference in economic zones between North and South Dallas, this could also just be some rude people selling items in North Dallas.

As Becky and I were looking on craigslist we found this listing: So, I contacted the guy at Becky’s request. The following conversation ensued.Special thanks to Nicolas Gallagher [1] Nicolas Gallagher. 5 MARCH 2010. Pure CSS speech bubbles [Accessed: 29 January 2011] [Link] for the CSS for the speech bubbles. And to DiskAid for the ability to pull text messages off the iPhone. [2]Hugh Paterson III. 10 December 2011. Pulling text messages off of iPhones. [Accessed: 29 January 2012] … Continue reading

Mazda3 listing on craigslist

I called him and talked to him a bit about the car and asked for him to text me the vin number. (My texts are shown in blue and his in orange.)

Received on 11/15/2011 20:05:00



2 things: 1.Can you double check the vin you sent me. I think there is an error in it. 2. When might be a good time to look at the car?

I dont save outgoing txts whats issue? i will meet when u are ready to buy netime (must bring money if u wanna drive though) too many tire kickers :)

The vin you sent was 18 digits and vins are, from what I can tell supposed to be 17. Here is what you sent me Jm1bk1436411655841


—– Next Day
Received on 11/16/2011 13:31:06

U decide if you want the mazda

I did not decide if want the Mazda. I did decide that I want to look at it and sit I the seats and test drive it. If I still want it at that point, and the value to cost ratio is still in my favor. I would choose to do business with you. You sound like you know cars. I don’t buy things to see if I like them. I know I like them. Then I buy them. I also sleep on financial decisions. I don’t rush. Still interested in selling me your car?

In ur favor?

If I am still convinced, that the price fits the goods. Remember I have not even seen the car yet.

Hah i know what the rest are going for mines hands down best buy on the market and i know none drive like this one…. ive had four of these

I am interested in touching the car. I believe you. Do you do your own work or have someone else do it?

I had a shop do it and i can show it but seems like id be wasting my time showing a car to someone who says flat out im not buying it but want to see it

I did not say I am not buying it. If I have to drive. 30 min. One way. Your time is not the only one waisted.

No no no just saying like 2 out of 100 ppl look at a car and come back later to buy it nobody thinks about a purchase while they sleep..thats just an excuse of w [sic]

If u like a car pull the trigger …. tell ya what ill show it any time but i hate when ppl say they want to thnk abou it that really mns no.

So if u like it think about what its worth before coming so u can make a decision then and there and wont have to say “thnk bout it” u can just say yes or no :)

Whats ur email ill send u ton of pics so u can see it

Ok. That request makes sense. Hugh[at]

Needless to say, we did not buy the car.


1 Nicolas Gallagher. 5 MARCH 2010. Pure CSS speech bubbles [Accessed: 29 January 2011] [Link]
2 Hugh Paterson III. 10 December 2011. Pulling text messages off of iPhones. [Accessed: 29 January 2012] [Link]