Why does this song move about in the head ?

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’.
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin’.
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin’.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.

Usage of access keys in Indic L10n

One of the aspects of Localisation (L10n) which is not being addressed very aggressively in case of Indic L10n is the issue of accelerator keys and keyboard shortcuts.

On the face of it there are two ways of addressing it:

[1] Using access keys in the local language with standard patterns for the menus
[2] Maintaining the same access keys as the English ones

Both approaches have their takers. The first one is generally adopted by nearly all the Indic L10n teams while localising the desktop environments. However, in the long run the second approach might just be something that one would require to look at seriously.

The first approach is already in place for Spanish software where Ctrl+U is the key combination for New (under the File menu) rather than Ctrl+N. This link puts forward the argument wherein the need to keep in sync with the MS-Office shortcuts are put across.

Putting in the English shortcut keys are sometimes an aberration. In the normal case, access keys are supposed to follow the natural flow of the local language. Thus, it could be easier to pick a character in the translation that is easy to remember (or perhaps following the Microsoft or MacOS guidelines). The logic being that consistency is on any day a good thing as it helps people to migrate from one platform to another. Trying to use the same access keys (as the original) makes access keys unnatural for the users of the localised distribution to remember.

In case of Indic L10n, where there is a non-latin script using latin characters as access keys would be a better option as native characters are (sometimes) more difficult to input. The way out in this case would perhaps be using the English access key in parenthesis along side the translation. This would also ensure that a consistent pattern of access keys are used by the users while they are switching between Indic locales and to English and back again.

Should we be looking towards a Compliance Lab in India ?

FSF has a GPL Software Certification Program and Compliance Lab. To quote from the link –

The certification program provides corporations with the assurances they require when building products upon a Free Software infrastructure. When you purchase certification, FSF undertakes a comprehensive engineering and legal review of your software release to ensure that your work has been done in compliance with GPL and related Free Software licenses.

. The question is that should we begin to look at a similar function in India ?

This is an important issue when considering the various structural components of Indic L10n. More importantly, when considering the important issues of fonts and converters. My dear friend Venkatesh Hariharan often laments about the availability of good quality of fonts in the various Indian languages. Even those that are available are having unclear licensing regimes. Perhaps this is one of the reasons which prompted Soumyadip to make this post.

The Free Software Foundation has a strong presence in India, and given the stellar role it has been playing in terms of influencing policy decisions related to use of Free software in e-Governance, Education and the like, perhaps it will not be out of bounds for it to take it on. Being a proud member of the body, I am well aware as to the shortage of manpower and the sheer lack of resources. Perhaps this is the best time to address these issues.

When discussing the idea amongst a few friends, the one refrain that I heard was that this might lead to a duplication of the efforts. I think not. Prima facie it does. But if we look deeper into the matter, the members of FSF-India are very much aware and involved in the Indic L10n process. In fact, the Indic L10n community is small and tightly integrated. Thus, a preliminary validation of the licenses could be easily carried out.

An immediate benefit of such an activity might be the prevention of case where unwittingly GPL/GPL-like license violation takes place.

Umm…work to do

This week the residence was full of people from the Mumbai office. Training was scheduled for the Delhi and Kolkata teams across Saturday and Sunday and thus we had Satish, SandeepK, Palashendu and Sukanta staying over.

BDC has been here in Delhi for sometime now and one of the good things of such a thing has been that we spend some amount of time talking and walking. Have not walked in a long long time now…it is a good thing. Best part is that I get to know a lot of stuff (mostly undocumented) on the issues of the Operating System with databases, shared storage and the like. Good knowledge and a very good store of documentation.

Have a lot of books pending to be read…have to get down to the job. Additionally, the Linux Device Drivers 3rd Edition is waiting to be reviewed.