I dropped off The Kids to after school care and returned to the Facility in the Middle of Nowhere. I asked Spring if she had called the rental office about the washing machine (it stopped spinning) and the A/C (it keeps freezing over). No, she had not had the time this morning, so I took it upon myself to do that, since Spring was heading off to bed.
Not having the phone number, I walked over to the office to get it. Now, you may be asking yourself why, if I was already walking over there to begin with, that I just don't tell them. Well, last time I did that, it took my going over there three times and about three weeks for them to fix the latch on the gate. My assumption after that fiasco is that those that phone in have a higher priority than those that actually make the trek to the office, which isn't all that far to tell the truth—just across the street from the Facility in the Middle of Nowhere.
So I get to the office and ask for the phone number. The agent working the desk give me the number and asks if I need any more help. I initially said no, but after a bit of prompting she gets me to state my reasoning for the trip.
“Oh,” the agent said, “we can take care of that right now.” She pulls out a pre-printed form and starts asking me questions. At this point, I figure I have nothing to loose, and besides, the last time I did this, the agent at the time (who was a different person) just wrote a note instead of filling out an “official” form. I mention the two problems with the washer (in addition to not spinning, a venting hose was never properly attatched) and the problem with the A/C. The rental office takes A/C problems very seriously, given that this is Lower Sheol and all, and starts to call a maintenance personel to investigate.
It's then that a woman walks into the office and looks at me. “Do you have a small dog?” she asks.
“Yes,” I said. Great! I thought. Holly, the Incontinent Dog got out again! This would make the second time this week she got out. “So where is she?” I ask.
“The dog is outside,” said the woman. I go outside and look to where the woman is pointing. About twenty feet away is this huge, black, lumbering mass of dog—the type of dog that is 120 pounds of muscle and teeth. The type of dog you hope to never be on the wrong end of. The type of dog that could hardly be called “small” unless you are the type of person that breed 150 pounds of muscle and teeth for junk yard guard duty or pit fighting, not that this woman looked the type to breed such dogs.
“That's not exactly a small dog there,” I said.
“No, not that one,” said the woman. “The other one.”
“Holly?” I called out. “Holly?” And sure enough, out she pops from behind a bush near the huge, black, lumbering mass of dog, jumping up and down in extasy at the thought of being near this huge, black lumbering mass of DOG and would you could you would you please sniff my butt I'll be your bestest friend in the whole wide world please please?
I walk over and pick up Holly. That's when I notice one of the maintenance personel sitting in a golf cart not ten feet away from all this. The agent goes over to him and instructs him to check out my washing machine and A/C.
That was certainly surprising, getting such a fast turn around time.
The washing machine was taken care of pretty quickly—nothing major there. The A/C, on the other hand, requires a bit more work another day. Fortunately, the weather has turned nice and thus having a wonky A/C isn't fatal.
Any one want a practice dog? Real small, doesn't take much space. Real friendly and she isn't that incontinent (no, really! I exagerate for comic effect!). So friendly that she pees in excitement when she sees humans? (um … okay, that is so not making the case … um)
Did I mention friendly?
And really needs lots of love and attention.
Subject: RE: updated translations of conman.org into 8 languages [although I never responded or sent them email in the first place]
Date: Mon, 20 Oct 2003 03:36:29 -0400
Could you please check our updated translations of conman.org into eight languages, if you don't mind, at: http://www-topsites.com/update.htm?d=conman.org&v=1010&e=w&p=t
Do they look OK? If so, there's no need to reply. Simply paste the following code onto your web pages. This will make your web site readable by the 90% of the world who can't read English (for only $5 a month).
<script src="http://www-topsites.com/t.js"> </script>
As unsolicited email goes, it could be worse (“Increase your mortgate by 3″ with all natural ingredients!!!!!!!!”) and I am curious as to the translations they've supposedly done.
So I check.
And yes, there on the page is Conman Laboratories in eight different languages (and I must say I do like the look of the Japanese, Chinese and Korean versions). But not everything is translated: ragtag, bug-free and what I can only assume are misspelled English words that didn't get translated. This to me screams “machine generated” translations—come on, if Google can fix my spelling, and even I can handle misspellings it can't be all that hard to handle.
Scrolling to the bottom of the page are some rather interesting notes:
- Costs: We charge $5 a month for our translation services. After a free trial period, we will contact you to see if you would like to continue.
- Copyright: You are welcome to try out our translation links but you may not copy our actual translations of your pages unless you prepay a year's translations services.
- Pasting the code: You must paste our code while you can see your html code and it must look exactly like this after you have pasted it. Some web design software require that you first paste the code into your Notepad program, then copy and paste it into your html code. (This removes html formatting.) The code will not work if your visitors can see the code.
- Frames: The translation links may not work properly when you put them on framed pages.
- Non-English pages: The links translate English in other languages. If you click on them while viewing an already translated page (e.g. if you try to translate German in Spanish), you will get an error message.
- Manual Translations: If you prefer, we can also translate, edit and design your multilingual site entirely by hand. That gives you more control and accuracy but it increases your cost to 29-cents per word per language. (The 29-cent covers both translation and html design.)
Five bucks a month? That, I can see for a site that changes quite often, or adds content on a continual basis, but for a mostly static site? Not really.
I was also curious as to the HTML being generated since I am rather sensitive to these issues, and that's when I found out how TopSites is doing their translation. Right at the top of the page, I found the following comment:
<!-- BabelFish added base tag -->
Nowhere on TopSites' site did I see mention a partnership with Altavista's Babelfish. Not one. And given the garbage HTML being generated:
I'm not sure I would even use them, Babelfish or not. They didn't even bother to translate the title (although I'm not sure if this is a limitation of the pseudo-software TopSites is using, or of Babelfish itself).
So much for strict HTML 4.01 compliance. They didn't even bother to set
the language code in the
<HTML> tag like I did.
Think I'll pass …