Breaking language barriers with Sherlock
I just had one of the most rewarding experiences I've had on a computer in a long time, and it's not what you're thinking. So get your mind out of the gutter and I'll tell you about it.
We live in a world where on-demand information, media, merchandise, and instant communication is at our fingertips 24/7/365. This evening my computer helped me break a language barrier.
This evening I hopped on irc.freenode.net to join the #gallery and #gallery-support chat channels as I regularly do since joining the Gallery Project. The support channel is a place for Gallery users to ask questions about Gallery and seek help with usage issues.
Shortly after joining, a user asked "alguien habla español?". Thank goodness punctuation is similar in Western languages. Now I live in New Mexico and through osmosis I've picked up a few "colorful" Spanish words and phrases, but this simple question was beyond me. With a "what the hell" attitude I decided to try application on my Mac to try and help this user solve their problem. Sherlock is a wonderful utility that first appeared as Mac OS 9's file search utility. Since then, Sherlock has evolved into the swiss army knife of the Mac, enabling users to search the internet and eBay. Sherlock can do lookup stock prices, spelling, movie show times, airline flight info, and Apple technical support docs. Sherlock also provides translation services in English, French, Russian, German, Portugese, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Greek, Dutch, and, of course, Spanish.
I didn't need much help to determine the general nature of the user's problem, some words require no translation. To get a grasp on the details I began to copy and paste from my IRC client to Sherlock to translate and another copy and paste to complete the roundtrip process.
After several cycles of copying and pasting, I was able to point the user in the right direction to fix an Internet Explorer CSS rendering problem (surprise, surprise) with Gallery's latest theme, Ajaxian.
The entire exchange was a bit tedious, but extremely rewarding. While I'm sure the translations were far from perfect, "gocé el hablar de español con un amigo" (I enjoyed speaking Spanish with a friend).