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English-language version of Luistxo Fernandez's blog

I'm a (better improved) PC

Luistxo Fernandez 2008/11/06 13:00

If Americans can shout Gora Obama (and I join those of them that have rejoiced with the outcome of the election), Basques can also speak in English. Here's a nice little video. It's based in the famous I'm a Pc / I'm a Mac Apple commercials. In this case, children at a Basque school defend their PCs... PCs running with free software in Basque: Ubuntu, Firefox, OpenOffice. Better than Macs, certainly :-)

Pro-Obama propaganda in Basque

Luistxo Fernandez 2008/10/24 09:01

This leaflet featured below (click to see larger) encourages the citizens of Nevada to support Barack Obama and vote for him. And it's in Basque!

It's not new, it was distributed in some rallies back in January for the Nevada primaries, when Obama rivalled with John Edwards and Hillary Clinton for the Democrat nomination.

And this little video is from the primaries, as well. Dave Bieter, the Basque-speaking mayor of Boise, Idaho, encourages the audience in some Idahoan sportshall to shout Gora Obama! (Basque for Viva Obama!). A chronicle of that caucus event here, and a longer video that explains how Bieter got the audience speak unanimously Basque.

I don't know is for the current main presidential race basque Obamistas in Nevada or Idaho have tried again with Basque propaganda. But, anyway, Gora Obama! Bozka Obama!

Creative Communism

Luistxo Fernandez 2008/10/18 22:20

After my last post about the expected visit of Lawrence Lessig to the Basque Country, I wrote him an email, mentioning this post and the modest Basque subtitle remixing effort, if he just thought it worth to be introduced in his talk. Indeed, he liked the example, and yes, Basque subtitles appeared in his presentation! This image of Prince Ashitaka in Mononoke Hime with the subtitles that I translated.

I had the pleasure to personally thank that to Mr. Lessig after the talk. It was an interesting and inspiring presentation, basically the one he has been delivered since he has been preparing his new book Remix. In this video, you get the basics, although not the Basque example, of course. | Lawrence Lessigen hitzaldia Miñaon © cc-by-sa: garaolaza

I particularly liked the analogy he made at the end. Copyright and laws about intellectual property are a broken system; yet, just like in the USSR of time, nobody in the Politburo dares to say so or proposes the substantial and risky changes that need to be taken. In that context, reform is the acceptable way out in opinion of Mr. Lessig, who sees himself as a Gorbachev, of course, not as Yeltsin eager to destroy it all. Reform is the way, Lessig told us, because the alternatives are worse:

  • Complete prohibitionism, control of Internet and technologies, official labelling as criminals for our children (a moral danger, particularly, in Lessig's opinion).
  • A revolution wipes out copyright.

Well, I guess I'm more a yeltsinist than a gorbachovian, but anyway, it was delightful to hear the well balanced and very intelligent proposals of Mr. Lessig. It was a pity that they couldn't bring the newly printed Remix books to the presentation.

This war on our kids has got to stop

Luistxo Fernandez 2008/10/13 10:46

When I read this announcement of Lawrence Lessig's forthcomming book Remix, the definition of the issues covered struck a chord on me, particularly point #1:

"(1) that this war on our kids has got to stop,
"(2) that we need to celebrate (and support) the rebirth of a remix culture, and
"(3) that a new form of business (what I call the "hybrid") will flourish as we better enable this remix creativity.

As a father, I think that it's an obligation for us parents to foster knowledge and creativity in our children, enrich their cultural experience, open them to the world, and teach them appretiate their background, their own unique culture (in the case of our Basque family, a tiny linguistic minority's culture).

How can do that without sharing, inter-crossing ideas, re-producing stories, mixing the worldbeat with the local heart? The Internet and new technologies have make much of those processes easier, and more exciting, so it's an opportunity that we cannot let our children loose.

The closed model of intellectual property works against all of that. And yes, the Remix definition for that phenomenon is very much correct: war on our kids. Let's stop that war. Let's free culture for our children.

This summer I have embarked in another little project: some movies with foreign soundtrack came into my hands. So I decided that I could produce Basque subtitles for them, and then show the movies to my children. I got subtitles in English and Spanish from the web, and translated them. Cousins and friends have gathered with our children more than once here and there in summertime, so the shows had quite an open audience. And, well, they loved it. Basque children of ages 9 or 10 can perfectly follow English or Japanese animation with subtitles in Basque. And I have enjoyed their experience so much... Besides, I think that this may help the children to improve their English (at least). | Mononoke Hime filmetik © cc-by-sa: Luistxo.F

So, I've decided to share that, and I've set up a website for the exchange and promotion of Basque subtitles. Files for exchange and documentation in a wiki, so other parents and aficionados can share my joy. It's barely legal. But, as for Basque children, there's probably no other way to consume Basque versions of Pixar or Ghibli studios masterpieces.

Lawrence Lessig comes to the Basque Country on October the 17th, to talk about this book, Remix. I look forward to know and hear him in person.

Last friday, I took the chance to talk about this visit, and mention this idea from Remix, that "war on our kids", in the talk that I gave at this seminar. I gave my talk in Basque, and it was translated by interpreters into 3 more languages. But my presentation, at least, I prepared it in English. I know that a presentation out of context doesn't help much, but here it is, anyway.


Overall, it was an interesting seminar, and well organised by the people at the Basque branch of Unesco.

Skype, Ning and Windguru in Basque

Luistxo Fernandez 2008/10/08 12:25

Some web products that have been localised into Basque over the last weeks, in all three cases, by means of user collaboration:

Skype: of course, there was no problem to talk in Basque... but now we have the interface as well. The euskara.lang package can be found in this thread. The company that employs my wife Marije (Emun, language consulting services) helped with the translation. | Skype euskaratuta © cc-by-sa: marije.emun

Ning. The members of a Ning based network, Zirikteroak (devoted to the use of IT's in the school) localised their app, and by the way, any other Ning community can now be managed in Basque. The localisation files are zipped here, and installation instructions can be found here.

Windguru. Sailors and surfers love it. Weather and wave predictions for beaches all around the world. Now Basque beaches in Basque. And Bali beaches as well, by the way. Users of the website did the work

Basque audiotube

Luistxo Fernandez 2008/10/06 15:20

Euskaltube is the Basque youtube, a personal project of a dynamic guy, Haritz Rodriguez. Now that the site is one year old, he's dared to add audio (mp3) archiving and sharing capabilities now to its website. I don't know if copyright zealots will let him fly free, but I am very much glad that such a platform exists now in Basque.

I've tested it with some tunes, and it works nicely. You can share the files using its flash player, but also letting others download the mp3. As an example, here you have a couple of songs than I once mentioned in this Cemetery. A basque lullaby, Pello Joxepe, performed by Paco Ibáñez was plagiarized by Naomi Shemer in Israel, where it's a very well known patriotic tune, Yerushayalim shel Zahav, Jerusalem of Gold.

This is Paco Ibañez signing it (Imanol Lartzabal helps him):

And this is Yerushalayim shel Zahav in the voice of Shuly Nathan.

Download both from here and here, check for Audioa eskuratu, that's where the mp3 files are.

Challenges of Minority Languages in the Globalization Age

Luistxo Fernandez 2008/09/29 10:58

Next week there will be a Congress in Bilbao: Challenges of Minority Languages in the Globalization Age. Basque and foreign speakers will exchange our views, and I will by one of those on the Basque side, as the organizers, the Basque branch of Unesco (part of the World Languages Network), offered me a spot to talk about Basque presence in Internet. So, my talk will be on October 10th: The highs and the lows of Basque on the Internet. There will be simultaneous translation between Basque, Spanish and English, so I'll talk in Basque but probably I'll use a powerpoint presentation written in English.

Participation in the congress is open, until the 220 places available are filled. You can apply in this website. The venue is the Euskalduna Palace of Bilbao.

This is the program:

9th October

9.30 - 10.00 PRESENTATION:
Basque government, Provincial Administration, EUDEL (Association of Basque Municipalities)
10.00 - 11.00 Talk: “Euskaltzaindia, a minority language academy and its challenges in a globalized world”. Andres Urrutia, President of Euskaltzaindia, Royal Academy of the Basque Language
11.00 - 12.00. Talk: “Language Rights. Human Development and Linguistic Diversity in a Globalizing World”. Suzanne Romaine, Merton College at the University of Oxford
12.30 - 13.30 Talk: "More rather than Less: Minority Language Rights in the Age of Globalisation?”. Fernand de Varennes. Murdoch University (Australia)
16.00 - 17.00. Talk: “Using Electronic Technology for Language Revitalization”. Delyth Prys, Bangor University (Wales)
17.00 - 18.00 Talk:  “ The Catalan on the Internet and Internet in Catalan. Difficulties (and opportunities) of Minority Languages in Cyberspace”. Amadeu Abril, ESADE Law School, Universitat Ramon Llull de Barcelona

10th October

09.30 - 10.30. Talk: “UNESCO and Multilingualism in Cyberspace”.  Misako Ito. UNESCO – Information Society Division – Universal Access and Preservation Section
10.30 - 11.30. Talk: “The highs and the lows of Basque on the Internet”, Luistxo Fernandez, CodeSyntax and Tagzania founder.
12.00 - 13.00. Talk: “Oral Tradition Teaching: What Kind of Education? The Case of Griots in Mali”. Simon Toulou, University of Geneva
13.00 - 14.00 Talk: "Towards a multilingual society: issues and practices, some examples". Marielle Rispail, IUFM Nice
14.00 - 14.15 CLOSING CEREMONY

Public bird's eye

Luistxo Fernandez 2008/09/18 11:36

Bird's eye is a phrase that I first found in Virtual Earth, the mapping app from Microsoft. But the term is caching in other mapping platforms, and now, for the 1st time, I've seen it in a public administration mapping site. The departamental public mapping app B5M has introduced Bird's eye views for Gipuzkoa, the Basque region where I live and work. Txoribistan is the Basque term chosen for the app.

This is my workplace, for instance. As usual, 4 cardinal viewpoints are available for each area covered.

The flights over Gipuzkoa were commanded by these regional authorities to Blom Pictometry. And it seems that Blom has retained the right to re-license it to others. So, the same views are present in B5M and in Virtual Earth. Compare the links (b5m /,com) and screenshots. blica. | Txoribista b5m © cc-by-sa: codesyntax | Txoribista Virtual Earth Eibar © cc-by-sa: codesyntax

Spanish electronics firm Blusens is another customer of Blom Pictometry: they use these oblique views in their GPS navigation system. Among all those users of Blom bird's eye views, it seems B5M has the newest data. Donostia, see of a film festival these days, is visible in b5m txoribista (the main exhibition hall, the Kursaal of Donostia), but not in Virtual Earth.

International Exposition in Zaragoza

Luistxo Fernandez 2008/09/03 07:57

I had never been in an International Expo, but as it was not that far away from home, we went to Expo Zaragoza with our children, to spend three days there. Water and sustainability, that was the motive of the Expo, and we took a sustainable approach, going there by train. But I was totally disappointed. Perhaps all expos are the same, a succession of anecdotical, conceptual or shop-like (sellers of tourism or souvenirs at large) pavilions, I don't know, but I felt this one was particularly boring, and too much crowded as well.

I noticed as well that it was just an exclusively Spanish act. No foreigners, which is striking in any part of Spain in summer: lots of locals do tourism here and there, but always accompanied by similar crowds of guiris. Well, there were almost none of these in Expo Zaragoza. I guess that very few BoingBoing readers noticed the isometrically pixelated eBoy mosaic in one of the few slightly interesting pavilions: | eBoy Expo Zaragoza © cc-by-sa: Luistxo.F

The expo is open until september 14.

Sharing photos

Luistxo Fernandez 2008/07/11 12:46

I just read that Flickr has an agreement with Getty Images so people from this company will contact Flickr users to license their photos thru Getty's photostock... I suppose there's revenue and license sharing scheme behind that, because there's no much details in the news distributed so far.

Well, here's another sharing model: this week we just launched (argazkiak is photos in Basque), and there's just one option for licensing (it's in the Terms of Service), just Creative Commons by-sa. A model that's compatible with Wikipedia Commons, a license that has been labeled Approved for Free Cultural Use. is neither Flickr nor, but it's limitless and free. And it's in our language. It's just 30 or so photos today. But let's see 5 years from now.


Luistxo works in CodeSyntax, tweets as @Luistxo and tries to manage the automated newssite Niagarank. This Cemetery is part of a distributed multilingual blog (?!). These are the Basque and Spanish versions:

Ingelesen hilerria

El cementerio de los ingleses


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