Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Free Online Translators From/To Russian

Automatic translation — translation produced without the intervention of human translators — usually is not very good. Funny mistakes, wrong word usage and word linking — this is what machine translation offers today. You can not use automatically translated texts in official documents, but if you need to understand what the text written in a foreign language is about, automatic translation is enough.

If you need to translate a web page, email or any other text document from Russian into English and you don’t expect to get smooth text, you may use free online translators. Here are two online translation web services that work quite well:

Promt — online translation tools developed by a Russian software company. Promt offers free text translation service for English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Italian and Russian languages. You can translate plain text by typing or pasting words into the field on this page. You may enter URL here to translate the whole web page or use the special form to translate and send email directly from the server. Promt also offers WAP translation tools for mobile devices.

Google Translate works with dozen languages, but Russian is available only in English-Russian and Russian-English directions. Google Translate has a very interesting, social engine: people can offer Google better translations, so day by day Google is improving its translation tools with the help of its users. The more texts are translated by Google, the better translation we will get. By now Google is very good in news translating, financial reports and tech documentations. Google offers plain text and entire web-page translation.

Thus, if you find a web page in Russian and it is promising to be interesting, don’t pay to translators, try free online translation first.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

News Monitoring, Part Three: Google Alerts

Nobody can know about every news site on the Web. Even Google doesn’t know about all news sites. However, Google bots know and track many more sources than any Internet user has ever visited. Google Alerts service is the best solution for those who don’t want to miss any important news.

Say, you’re interested in any information published on the web about the movie “Devil Wears Prada” and you need to track all feedbacks on this movie. Put the title of the movie to the “Search terms” field at Google Alerts Service. Then tune service’s setting to your needs – select types of sources you want to monitor (news, blogs, web pages, or comprehensive), select how often you want to get alerts from Google and then enter your email address. That’s it. Since now Google will send you alerts informing you that a new article on defined topic appears at some website you’ve probably even never heard of. An alert message from Google includes URL and a short summary, that allows you to understand if you need to click the link and read the full text of the news.

Monday, June 18, 2007

News Monitoring, Part Two: ChangeDetection

Imagine, you’re interested in, say, pharmaceutical market. You might need to read earning reports of the most influent pharmaceutical companies. You know where these companies publish their reports at, however, you don’t know when exactly they update their websites. Unfortunately most these websites do not provide with RSS feeds. So you could add these websites to your bookmarks and visit them five times a day in order not to miss important information. Is there any way to optimize your work? Actually there is one.

You can automatically monitor any web page for updates with the help of ChangeDetection website. It is as easy as 1-2-3: click the link at this page to open a ChangeDetection wizard, put the URL of the web page you want to monitor and your email on the pop-up form. That’s it. You’ll get an alarm from ChangeDetection as soon as the page is updated.

I use ChangeDetection to monitor four or five pages for changes. It’s not too many, I could do it manually, however, I don’t trust my memory. I’m sure, I’d forget to visit these websites and check for updates. You know, there are so many interesting things to do, let’s robots do routine work!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

News Monitoring, Part One: RSS

Getting news in time, being updated is very important to run business properly. News monitoring is definitely a part of our everyday work. In some situations the price of a missing news article would be too high, thus we try to keep an eye on relevant subjects and not to miss anything important. Is it possible to track all news from thousands websites? Yes. Today we have some very simple and powerful tools that allow us to track news fast and effective.


Wikipedia said,

RSS is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated content such as blog entries, news headlines or podcasts. An RSS document, which is called a “feed,” “web feed,” or “channel,” contains either a summary of content from an associated web site or the full text. RSS makes it possible for people to keep up with their favorite web sites in an automated manner that’s easier than checking them manually.

In other words, RSS gives you a possibility to collect websites you visit regularly to your customized “newspaper”. You can read new entries from your favorite sites within one program or at one web application instead of visiting every single website separately. Alexandra Samuel wrote a perfect guide — 10 simple, painless steps to becoming an RSS user. I don’t want to retell her article here, just would strongly recommend reading it.

This is how I use RSS for news tracking:

  1. First of all, I added about 30 feeds of the the most noteworthy news sites to my RSS reader (special program or web service for aggregating RSS feeds).
  2. I turned on “Check all feed once an hour” option in program settings, because some feeds may contain not all new entries, but last 10, so I asked RSS reader to check for updates every 60 minutes.
  3. I set my RSS reader to start automatically on system start up — it keeps running in the system tray displaying a number of new entries as they arrive.
  4. Three or two times a day I open the RSS reader and look through the news; some feed entries contain a title, short excerpt and a link to the full article on the web. If a news seems important, I opened it in my browser.

I spend about 30 minutes a day reading hundreds news from dozens of websites. Just imagine, every 60 minutes my RSS reader checks each of 30 websites for updates. I’d have no time for any other work if I did it manually, but it takes me only 30 minutes a day!

RSS feeds are just one of the tools I use for news tracking. Next time I’ll write how to track news from websites that do not provide with RSS feeds.