Archive for November, 2010

Swift-TX subtitling with Windows XP Japanese IME

In order to get Swift to work with Japanese , you have to set the font in the swift preferences:

This computer worked –


meaning: IME showing up here.

”Input mode” must be set to Hiragana, not “direct input” which (if I recall correctly think) we did in XP/ control panel/ “regional and language settings”.

We could replicate getting it to work on other XP computers:

by resetting of the “input mode” from “direct input” to “hiragana”,


AND after a restart of switch and opening a new swift file:


Next problem:

when you use ctrl up/down arrow , spurious spaces appear between letters.

Swift-TX Subtitling/Screen Translation Software: Preference Dialogues

This impressive array of preferences dialogues of the Swift subtitling software by Softel is in desperate need of a FAQ

– which I have yet to write (feel free to make suggestions in the comments).

OK, here is one bit: Japanese.

eRepository: How to manage multimedia learning materials? Maybe with ShareStream

Target language audio and video materials – as well as other textual, multimedia and/or interactive materials – are crucial assets (and should become “reusable learning objects”) in learning centers – how best to manage them?

I have worked for a number of HE institutions, up to the very recent past, that charge their students between $30.000 and $40.000 per year, while their learning materials handling in the learning center consisted of what DVDs and VCR tapes fit into a shoe carton, for a lab assistant to frantically browse through when faced with a learner or teacher request for materials. Not to mention teachers spending inordinate amounts of time scanning stacks of make-believe VCR and DVD “libraries” in the learning center.

I have blogged here before about various solutions that attempt to remedy this: from home-baked stop-gap measures to the introduction of eRepository offerings for digital asset management.

Learning materials management: Links (1998-2004)
Learning materials management: Textbook exercises (2000-2008)
Learning materials management: Online_resources.xls I: Intranet (2003-2009)
Learning materials management: Online_resources.xls II: E-repository (2006-7)
Learning materials management: Offline resources (2005-2006)
Language Lab Techniques for Producing Audio Learning Materials
How to distribute learning materials using the Blackboard Content System
How to distribute learning materials using the Blackboard Content System
Managing learning materials: How to use an inventory spreadsheet

If you are familiar with these issues, you will understand that I am eagerly looking for better help with managing multimedia learning materials. ShareStream claims to provide a turnkey solution addressing these needs. Its architecture – according to the Tulane pilot – consists of a ShareStream server which serves as eRepository and metadata catalogue, a streaming server, and an encoding server (for lecture-capture: YAT (“yet another tag”)). ShareStream also integrates with the Blackboard LMS.

Have a look at the demo of the pilot at Georgetown University which they gave during MAALLT 2010 and which they now also offer workshops on. One interesting thing I figured out during the question period is that they avoid breaking the Digital Millennium Act when digitizing copy-protected DVD materials by capturing to digital only the analog AV output of a DVD – a reminder that a reform of copyright is sorely needed.

Language-Learning-Audio-Stretcher II: Samples

What does the Language-Learning-Audio-Stretcher introduced in an earlier blog post do to an audio file you feed in?

For illustration purposes, let’s have a look at a segment of a news broadcast. The example is(taken from the daily Langsam gesprochene Nachrichten by Deutsche Welle: a nice service of slowly spoken news for language learners – in my experience, however, not spoken slowly enough for North-American German students.

This timeline (X axis) shows what a computer program has automatically detected as pauses of varying length (Y axis) in the audio. Depending on a (safety) threshold which the user sets (manually, or, from experience, stored and loaded from a configuration file) in the dropdown boxes of the lower dialogue, the program attacks pauses from a certain threshold value up only: Centre_overall-numerical-data-researching

The segment below consists of a single sentence about peace negotiations with North Korea. It is shown in the following screenshot.

  • 1: transcript of the original audio file
  • 1a: audio graph of the original audio file
  • 2: transcript of the stretched audio file. A new line in this transcript represents a pause inserted by the software.These pauses should aid language students in review the utterance last heard in memory, and hopefully parsing it correctly.
  • 2a: audio graph of the stretched audio file.
  • 2b: note: non-flat audio is stretched
  • 2c: note: flat lines show the pauses inserted, on top of stretching the audio.

Hearing is believing:

This software can be applied to any of numberless public domain audio books (see Project Gutenberg or Wikipedia,  audio books, as well as other free audio book sources) in mp3 or wma format (other formats can be converted). It can also can be applied to commercial audio books, if you have proper licensing.

The software comes with many options that allow you to tweak the output to your liking and needs, see prior blog post.