Q and A with Dmitri Popov
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Popov works as a technical translator from
English and Danish to Russian, as well as a freelance
contributor to major European and US computer magazines
and websites. His articles cover open source software
including desktop and web-based applications and tools.
Recently, Dmitri released the book Hands
on Open Source, which provides a practical
introduction to the best open source applications.
Open Source Update:
Please tell us a bit about yourself and how you got
started in translation.
Dmitri Popov: I hold a degree in
Russian language and computer linguistics as well
as technical translation from English to Russian.
Since around 1994 I've been teaching Russian and translation
theory at Aarhus University, Denmark and working as
a technical translator. The last five years, however,
I have mainly worked as a freelance contributor to
Danish and US computer magazines and websites.
OSU: How did you
get interested in open source, and the possibilities
of combining open source and translation?
DP: My interest
in Open Source started with OpenOffice.org,
which I've been using since version 1.0 or even earlier.
Later I joined OpenOffice.org's Quality Assurance
project helping to test development versions of the
application and reporting bugs. About a year ago I
which immediately became my translation tool of choice.
It's a great tool that allows users to deliver professional
services while maintaining compatibility with proprietary
tools. Although I don't contribute to the OmegaT project,
I do my best to spread the word about it.
OSU: What led you to write your newly
released book, "Hands on Open Source"? Who
is the target reader for this book?
DP: I've written quite a few articles about open-source
alternatives to commercial closed source software.
During my research I stumbled upon some really great
open-source applications like GanttProject, Lucane,
Grisbi, and, of course, OmegaT. At some point I realized
that virtually any computing task I face in my daily
work can be carried out using open-source software.
The book is actually a result of this realization:
no matter what you use your computer for, it's almost
certain that there is an open-source application that
can do the job. Personal finance management, translation,
online collaboration, project management, even gaming-Open
Source's got it covered. The book attempts to provide
answers to the most common questions such as "What
can I use open-source software for?" "Are
there alternatives to the commercial closed source
applications I'm currently using?" "How
do I get started with open-source software?"
If you've ever asked yourself these questions, you're
likely to find the book useful.
OSU: What do you feel is standing
between the translation industry and widespread use
of open source software?
DP: In many respects, the translation industry is
no different from any other industry, and the reasons
for slow adoption of open-source software are universal.
In many cases companies are reluctant to consider
open-source alternatives because they have already
invested huge amounts of money in, for example, TRADOS.
Understandably, the idea of discarding thousands of
dollars spent on TRADOS and trying something else
instead is not all that appealing. Another concern
is that migration from one tool to another can often
affect not only the translation company itself, but
also its customers. Who wants to risk his or her customers'
good will for the sake of trying something new? Introducing
a new tool also requires time. Many freelancers are
busy enough to even consider spending hours on installing,
configuring and learning new software.
OSU: What open source software do
you use on daily basis?
DP: The OpenOffice.org office suite, Firefox browser,
and Thunderbird e-mail client are three applications
I use most of the time. There are also quite a few
utilities that I find indispensable; Notepad++, Rainy's
Calendar, WordNet, and RSS Owl are among them.
OSU: How does this software compare
to proprietary alternatives?
DP: It may sound surprising, but I rarely compare
the open-source applications I use with proprietary
alternatives. The key question for me is "Does
this program do what I need?" As long as the
application does what I want and does it well, I have
no reason to compare it with other programs. Also,
some open-source doesn't have proprietary counterparts,
like WordNet, for example.
OSU: What effect do you think that
SDL's acquisition of Trados will have on the market
for a commercially supported open source CAT tool?
DP: Any changes in status quo give an opportunity
for companies and freelancers to evaluate their current
software setups and take a closer look at alternatives.
I hope that the acquisition will give companies and
translators a chance to examine the open-source options
available on the market.
OSU: If you could create a new open
source application for the translation industry, what
would it be?
DP: I'd like to see a version of OmegaT integrated
into OpenOffice.org, something like the TRADOS and
Word combo. The difference would be, of course, that
OmegaT can still be used as a stand-alone translation
OSU: What piece of advice would you
offer to people who work as volunteers on open source
DP: Keep up the good work!
OSU: Can you tell us about any upcoming
projects that you're planning?
DP: I currently spend most of my
time promoting my book and gathering material for
the second edition. I also spend a lot of time on
my website www.nothickmanuals.info
and developing OpenOffice.org samples and templates
(some of them are already available under (L)GPL on
the website). If you have a good idea for a template
or an OpenOffice.org-based solution, feel free to
OSU: Dmitri, thanks a lot for taking
the time to share your experiences with Open Source
DP: Thank you, Corinne. Good luck with your work and
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