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mdxi (4658)

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Journal of mdxi (4658)

Friday April 30, 2004
12:05 AM

kdict resurrected

[ #18557 ]

Hey look! Perl! Sorta.

The muse of lingua-programming descended upon me tonight and I started hacking kdict again. I started out just making a simple module to hold common routines, as a preliminary step to finally writing the edit and add chunks of the app. While doing this, however, I had a small thought on the representation of a piece of data.

This led to a(nother) 2 hour discussion on exactly what was being done here, what the goal was, and the best way to get to it. Even though I'm a programmer with an amateur knowledge of linguistics and lexicography and K is a linguist and lexicographer with an amateur knowledge of programming, we still manage to talk at cross purposes sometimes.

Result: yet another set of database changes (requiring yet another flatfile import (requiring yet another set of changes to the importer script)), 9 new items in kdict's TODO list, a complete rethinking of how data should be displayed in detail view, and a lot more understanding on both sides.

I also discovered that kdict has been violating a license since it went public earlier this year. While its database is almost entirely original work (or at least as original as something like this can be), the kanji on/kun reading fields turned out to be populated with data streight from Jim Breen's KANJIDIC file. K had assumed that since EDICT/KANJIDIC/et al. were free to use that they were more-or-less public domain. She had actually already been working on a general sources/credits list, but I suddenly got worried and discovered that the EDICT files are, in fact, distributed under a license which requires some fairly specific wording and methods of giving credit to the owners. That was an easy fix, but still something of a horrible feeling for someone who has been a staunch supporter of Free software since 1993.

Related: today at work someone wanted to buy a copy of MS-Word. We don't stock Word, only Office (Academic Version), but that was out of their price range. I suggested that if price was an issue and they could live with something that was clost-to-but-not-exactly Word, maybe they should check out OpenOffice. I explained what it was, and that it was freely available, and they should have plenty of bandwidth to get it over the Uni network.

Then the person got a very suspicious look and said "Why would someone make something like that and then not charge me for it?"

This has never happened to me before because I generally stay away from muggles where computing is involved. At first I couldn't think of anything to say. Then I almost started laughing because my internal dialogue was going off in all directions about the absurdity of needing to explain why someone would be nice to a stranger and whether the jackbooted tactics of the RIAA/MPAA/BSA had anything to do with the question levelled at me.

After a few split seconds I recovered and went with: some programmers from around the world work together to create useful software that people could use for free simply because they want to give back to their communities. This actually seemed to be far better accepted than I thought it would, and they said they'd go right back to the dorms and check it out.


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