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Breaking barriers


I recently had the opportunity of meeting some colleagues in Europe to discuss various business opportunities. One of the barriers that we recognised was language, a disadvantage for me who didn't speak German. While being a native English speaker does help, (English is the second most widely spoken language in the world after Mandarin), there are a number of subtleties which are lost when people are communicating in languages other than their mother tongues.

Futurists have spoken about devices that will translate your speech as you are talking which will allow you to carry out a conversation in two different languages. While this might be a few years away, AltaVista have included an innovation on their search engine that translates web pages on the fly. While not perfect, it certainly breaks through the language barrier when you come across pages that haven't been written in your mother tongue.

In addition to translating web pages, you can also enter plain text which, it will translate for you one the fly (see my wishes at bottom of this article). Appropriately named BabelFish the service adds a whole new dimension to browsing the web for both English and non-English speakers alike. Interesting to note is that it places in jeopardy those firms that have set themselves up offering a multi-lingual translation service for web sites.

Another breakthrough, which I came across this week, was the Audible web site. Building on the growing demand for audio books, Audible offer the ability to download audio programs in many different categories from best sellers and fiction to personal development, spirituality business and finance.

The audio programs can either be played back on your computer, if you have a soundcard, or you can purchase an Audible Player for US$199. This Walkman type device holds two hours of audio programs and allows you to listen wherever you are. Coming soon the ability to play RealAudio files on the Audible player.

Let me take this opportunity to wish you all a fantastic end of year holiday season. Thank you for your support over the past year. I do appreciate all the positive feedback that has been sent to me over the past months. If you celebrate Christmas then all the best and may 1998 be prosperous and successful for all.

All the best from sunny Cape Town
Tous les meilleurs ensoleillé du Cap
Alle besten von sonnigem Kapstadt
Todos los la mejores de ciudad asoleada del cabo