The February General Meeting:
Different Venue, Same Spirit

By Raffaella Bushiazzo

On February 11th, the NCTA General Meeting was held for the first time at the Mechanic’s Institute Library, where in the past we have traditionally held our workshops. Whether because of the cozy wood-paneled room or the anticipation of meeting new board members, the meeting was well-attended and successful.

NCTA President Tuomas Kostiainen opened the General Meeting with a few announcements of upcoming events.He then gave the final vote counts for the annual board election, and introduced newly elected board members Andrea Wells, Song White, and Stafford Hemmer, and re-elected board members Evan Geisinger and Naomi Baer. A heartfelt thank you went to outgoing Treasurer Barbara Guggemos, Webmaster Brigitte Reich, and Membership Director Tetu Hirai for all the work that they had done for the Association. It was a real pleasure working with people as professional and reliable as they are! Dear Barbara, Brigitte, and Tetu, thank you again from all of us.

Advanced Search

The highlight of the meeting was a panel discussion on advanced Internet search techniques and news gathering strategies, presented by Scott Gatz, Yahoo! Senior Director of Personalization Services, Tom Corbett, and Yves Avérous, NCTA Vice President in charge of Publications and founder of TransMUG, who moderated the panel as well.

Tom Corbett, a Healthcare Information Technology Specialist who is now applying his healthcare industry knowledge to the world of translation and localization, gave us an introduction to advanced search and provided useful tips. He also warned us of multiple dangers on the Internet such as false endorsements, rumors about false news, self-promotion, surveillance, and vandals who modify the information available on normally reliable news sources like Wikipedia.

He also suggested three websites that help translators make better searches: www.ohiotranslators.org/research.htm, where one can download a presentation by Chemali & Sommer held at the annual ATA Conference; www.lai.com/companion.html, a good site for translators’ search tools; and www.searchenginewatch.com, which allows you to find more detailed information about particular search engines.

Yves Avérous added more advanced search tips specifically for translation professionals. He gave us a few hints for terminology mining: try to guess your source term translation and verify your assumption in websites written in the target language; compare the number of results obtained by different possible translations; enter the source word that you want to translate and look it up in pages that are written in the target language; identify the word context in web pages written in the source language, then translate the context terms and enter their translation in a query made in target language pages.

RSS feeds and blogs

The panel continued with our third presenter, Scott Gatz. Among his many accomplishments, Scott has introduced My Yahoo!, opening the entire Web to millions of homepages. Scott presented the concept of RSS, Really Simple Syndication. This was developed to deal with the huge amount of information on the Web. It is a family of web feed formats used for web syndication, where live information from one section of a website is made available for other sites to incorporate. This allows users to create their own dashboard; a personalized web page like My Yahoo!, where they receive web feeds coming straight from the sites they choose. My Yahoo! was the first portal to provide users with a personalized page for receiving RSS feeds but today other sites offer a similar free service. And then there are the popular newsfeed aggregators like Bloglines, or the standalone newsreader applications for users who wish to keep their updates.

With all these solutions, there is no need to visit the sites containing information that you want to access multiple times a day, because you can automatically receive their content directly on your personalized page or your newsfeed aggregator. Millions of sites are now supporting RSS; their homepages present a little orange RSS icon that you can add to your method of collection. There are already more than 10,000 sites displaying the orange Yahoo! RSS icon. If you click on that icon, the site will be added automatically to your personalized page in My Yahoo!. The RSS concept not only saves time and makes it easy to manage a huge amount of information but also reduces spam because you get updates without providing an email address.

Yves concluded this interesting presentation by explaining the differences between the old and the current perception of blogs. Until not so long ago blogs were limited to personal usage, whereas today a blog is seen as a platform to instantaneously spread articles and information. For instance, under www.proz.com/forums translators can subscribe to several feeds, each on a very specific subject, and receive the content on their personalized page.

Finally, there is the wiki concept. A wiki is a collaborative site, ideal for virtual teams. Someone posts one article and somebody else can complete it. From there, the concept can build eventually to its most famous illustration: the free online, multilingual, encyclopedia Wikipedia.

On a lighter note

At the end of the panel there was a drawing to win two books: Yahoo Hack went to the youngest member in the audience, Ajita Sherer, and Google Hacks went to NCTA member Sjamsir Sjarif.

The official General Meeting ended with refreshments and networking. Tuomas invited everybody to join the board members at a nearby Hunan restaurant to celebrate the Chinese New Year together, sharing delicious dishes. Our afternoon ended watching the long parade on Market Street to welcome the Year of the Dog.

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