Here's a picture of the NASA Phoenix Lander with its parachute open on its descent to Mars. It's inspiring that scientists were able to send the lander 422 million miles to land on a desolate and unforgiving environment. I wish we could apply the same level of ingenuity to the problems we face on Earth.
Most taxis are fairly ordinary inside, but check out the roses-and-lights festooned cab that I rode in tonight! There was a large heart inside the cab roof, roses across the front of the cab, and a string of flashing lights surrounding the entire area.
My Edu2.0 education site currently support 10 languages. To facilitate translating the site we wrote a web-based system that allows translators to convert key words and phrases from English to another language. This has worked very well, and now the site is kept up-to-date by translators all over the world.
However, one of the issues that still remains is how to support our forums with an international audience. For example, since 65% of our members are English, most of the forum postings are also in English. When a member posts something in Spanish, I would have to use Google translation to convert it into English, then write a response in English, then finally tranlate my reply back to Spanish before posting to the forum. Nasty.
So yesterday we added full automatic translation for all our forums.
When someone posts to a forum, we store the posting and its original language setting. If someone who speaks a different language reads the post, we automatically call Google translate and display the translated version with the original version. We also cache the translated version so the next time the same thing happens the translation is instantaneous.
Next week we will add auto-translation to our messaging and chat system as well.
It's really fun to see in action. To see what it's like, visit this public thread and then select the Spanish language using the flag icon at the top of the page:
Traffic to our Edu2.0 web site has been steadily increasing so we decided to upgrade our infrastructure.
added a dedicated database server
upgraded from Rails 1.1.6 to Rails 1.2.6
use memcached for session storage
added "expires" headers for browser caching
These improvements resulted in a snappier web site and increased capacity. With any luck these changes (with perhaps a few SQL optimizations) will support another 10,000-20,000 members. We also plan on upgrading to Rails 2.1 shortly for the timezone support.