New Projects - Fresh from the Labs
Are you a Rammstein fan trying to decipher those wacky lyrics or a Porsche fan trying to figure out exactly what Doppelkupplungsgetriebe means? Are you chasing a German-English translator that's simple to use and painless to install? This is probably the best place to start, especially if you have to type such accents as umlauts and the like (see what I mean further on). According to Ding's Freshmeat entry:
Ding is a dictionary lookup program for the X Window System on Linux/UNIX. It comes with a German-English dictionary with about 253,000 entries. It is based on Tk version >= 8.3 and uses the agrep or egrep tools for searching. In addition, Ding also can search in English dictionaries using dict(1) and check spelling using ispell(1). It has many configuration options, such as search preferences, interface language (English or German) and colors. It has history and help functions and comes with useful key and mouse bindings for quick and easy lookups.
Installing Ding is really easy. Head to the Web site, and you'll find a number of different packages along with a tarball. As usual, I'm running with the tarball for the sake of neutrality. Download the tarball, extract it, and open a terminal in the new folder.
If your distro supports sudo, enter:
$ sudo ./install.sh
If not, enter:
$ su # sudo ./install.sh
You'll want to install the German aspell files for certain parts of program functionality. Once the installation has finished, run the program with:
Although I haven't much space to cover Ding's usage, the interface is pretty basic anyway. To start, enter a word in German or English, and either click Search or press Enter. At this point, any translated possibilities and variants show up below, with Deutsch (German) on the left and English on the right. You also may see a small cross icon next to each translation. Click it, and variants are displayed in a collapsible menu from the root word, such as plurals, example usage and so on.
It's well worth looking in the Preferences menu and clicking the Show umlaut buttons option. This shows the special Germanic characters most English editions of OSes won't be set up for. Other features include a spell checker, as well as orthography, but I'll let you explore things for yourself from here.
Although Ding may be rather gray and not pretty, it's nice and minimalist and easy to install with a minimum of fuss. I'm sure that 90% of its users will be those English-speaking Rammstein fans trying to work out what's being said, but why not?
In the spirit of this month's “catching up” column, I'm taking a look at recent developments in some of the coolest projects I've been fortunate enough to cover here at LJ in the past. My favorite project of all time is Gnaural. For those not in the know, Gnaural is an application to generate Binaural Frequencies that can speed up or slow down brainwaves for relaxation or alertness, using a basic PC and a simple pair of headphones. A recent addition to the CVS code by a user under the mysterious nickname of noname36 has added the extra functionality of using Isochronic Tones instead of Binaural Frequencies, which brings yet more application to an already amazing program.
CloneKeen, an authentic rebuild of the classic PC platformer Commander Keen, has continued to become more stable and has been ported to more platforms. A separate project run by other fans also has started up, Commander Genius (aka CloneKeenPlus), which includes things like OpenGL 2.0 support, new graphical effects and a Normal and Hard mode, among other new features. Thankfully, CloneKeen's creator Caitlin Shaw also has joined the project.
This racing sim, aimed at the realistic racing crowd, has been gaining more realism and features over time. New features include car collision in Single Race mode, a much more capable AI (along with a new difficulty slider) as well as improved performance. But what really jumps out at me are tweaks to the actual feel of the game. It previously felt very detached, often making the process of driving more of an intellectual exercise than an intuitive one. Small touches, like tyre-spin noise when off-road, and bigger ones, such as a “bouncy” camera for hood view, should make for a game that is much more playable with a solid feel. I look forward to the full release.
John Knight is the New Projects columnist for Linux Journal.
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