This weeks episode of Speaking of Spain is now available from the iTunes store or from this web site here.
1: On the show this week is a review of Abby Text Grabber, the image to text recognition tool as well as translator. Find out why it is a mighty fine app to have on your smart phone when out and about.
2: Secondly, there is a short history of the infamous Black Monday incident during the Spanish transition to democracy during the latter half of the 1970's. Find out why the move from authoritarianism to the ballet box was not as smooth as some have made out.
3: Finally, as its cold and grey and rather black out today, I'm reposting an old recipe for garlic soup and tracing back the vegetable's roots all the way to the bottom of Satan's feet.
Speaking of Spain is the fortnightly podcast from the Gazpachomonk. Subscribe free in iTunes or download it here.
Continuing on from the theme about the importance of images and story telling, this month I'm releasing a new downloadable free magazine called Images. The images are of and about Andalusia, so all of you aficionados out there, will enjoy some of the montages, such as this month's cover photo depicting how the inland town of Loja would be like if global warming reverses the history of this planet, and the valley in which the town sits, once more flooded with waters.
Also in this months edition: The dog who struck during the general strike, The Marx Brothers and animal Crackers, and the Buddha that finally turned blue.
If you have an iPhone you can load it directly into the Beamr app.
Or you can view it online here, and even download a copy for yourself. Enjoy the monthly magazine.....
For more real and surreal images from Spain, follow the Gazpachomonk on Instagram or Instastory.
As many of you will know, I have been a follower of developments in the mobile phone platform for some years, and on this blog I started a series some time back on Apps for an Easy Life. Today I don't want to focus on a single app, but rather an application that works system wide: the new multi lingual dictionary.
Since IOS6 (the operating system used by Apple mobile devices) was released earlier this month there have been a number of improvements for International Users, including Siri - the speech recognition engine now in Spanish as well as one update that I have been awaiting for years: different language dictionaries accessible from all applications.
Like many people who live abroad, speak something of the language of the country but prefer to have technical instructions in my native language, my mobile devices have always been a mixed bag of preferences and settings. I want the vocabulary of a Spanish Operating System, but when I want to access my English side, I want to be able to switch quickly and effortlessly.
Never has this difficulty been so obvious than in the iBooks application for reading books and PDFs on an iPhone or iPad. With previous versions of the operating system, it assumed that it your operating system language was set to English, then you would want the dictionary to accompany your reading material to be english, even if the book you were reading was in Spanish.
All of that has at last changed with IOS6. Now you can download the appropriate dictionary and tap on a word and find an immediate definition according to the language you are reading. Fantastic!
I even received an email yesterday from someone in Spanish who was describing the state of a commercial building I was to be inspecting using the word Basto. I tapped on the word and up jumped the dictionary, detecting the language of the email and offering me a series of definitions.
So I thought Id try it in another applications to see how far this access would go: Facebook was a no no. Dropbox worked fine, Safari works but depending on the text formatting, and so I concluded that this really was the key - for it all depended on the formatting of the text. If the letters could be identified as letters, then it will work. But if they cannot, for example with images or some PDF documents, then the availability is not so good. For example, Foursquare will work, but only when you dig down to the actual text entry, not before.
Now I just need the digital keyboard to recognise the language i'm typing and for Siri to understand my Spanish spoken with an English accent! I can hope.....
You can read the other Apps for a Peaceful life abroad here.
If you someone were to guess your top 6 interests as an English Speaker in Spain and they included Crime, Tax Evasion and Cruises how would that make you feel?
A few days ago I installed on my phone a new app. It is called Prismatic. It claims to be able to find posts, web sites, articles of interest that are particularly relevant to me and deliver them to my phone every day. Ive tried a few similar apps like this before…Zite for example, and they generally act pretty well, if a little limited in scope.
Stereotypes from Where?
To register with prismatic, you must give a few details about yourself, the first being where I lived and what language I wanted the articles delivered in. As I live in Spain and my first language is English, I gave these details to the app. I was then presented with my first list of subjects that the developers (or their algorithm) had selected for me…subjects they assumed I would be naturally interested in. Take a look at the photo above (a screenshot I took in disbelief at that moment) and see if any of the categories fit your interests.
Spain….yup…Well done! But as I live here, it was something of a safe guess.
Portugal…well, its next door I suppose.
Tax Evasion…hmmm. This is beginning to sound a little dodgy.
Great Britain…well, Ive said that I am an English Speaker, but why assume I´m British?
Curises….What? Have I said I´m retired and sitting on a suitcase full of disposable cash?
Crime…OK! Thats enough….this is getting offensive.
So lets recap here a moment. In the eyes of the app developers, If I am English speaking and live in Spain, there is a high probability that I´ll be from Britain, have more than a passing interest in defrauding the state, spending my presumably illegally acquired income on cruises whilst keeping up with the global crime scene.
Well, that pretty well summons up the stereotype of the Brit abroad I suppose. Only, I thought this only existed in UK tabloids during the 1970's? Yet the apps developers are from San Francisco - so is this the standard stereotype that they have of Brits abroad? Maybe Im being a little harsh. Then again, maybe its just another example of ignorance, parochialism and the perpetration of stereotypes from this once-more-complacent country over the pond. Oops….isn't that a stereotype?
So do you have a smartphone? Give it a go. Download the app and see what racial stereotypes will be thrown at you? Muslim and living in London? Maybe you would be interested in Knocked off Weapons and Semtex?
African and living in Andalusia? How about illegal boat trips across the straits, a DVD burner or work prospects in the Plastic Greenhouses of Almeria?
Anyway, whats the app like? Well, not bad really. Its gradually producing some more interesting stuff and of course over time, again like ZITE - it learns more and more of your real interests and less and less of the developers projections. Let me know how it was for you?
Interested in more Apps for an Easy life Abroad? You may like this too.
Today I'm starting a new series of posts about Phone apps that make life easier for people living or travelling abroad. As someone who is obsessional about mobile technology and driven to find ways of making life more simple, I thought I'd highlight a few of the most useful apps I use in the pursuit of elegance and efficiency in the 21st Century.
So today Im looking at Abbey Text Grabber.
This app is one of my favourites for the simple reason that its always on me and always available for those moments when I need to either record down some info, translate some info or OCR (Optical Character Recognition) some info.
Imagine for an example:
Im in a bar, browsing the daily edition of El Pais Newspaper and - for example - I come across an interesting small article on the Gazpachomonk. Well, with text Grabber I can take a photo of the text and then choose to do a number of very useful things: OCR the text and store it on my phone as a digital record (no longer a photo but editable text). Or, is this is where the travel and living abroad bit comes in, I can OCR, then translate it into another language in seconds, and store, email, post to FB, Twitter etc from within the App.
Imagine you are in a restaurant and boasting to your family, friends and visiting dignitaries how good your Spanish is, when someone asks you to translate a menu item that you have never seen before. You mumble a few words about not carrying your glasses, but no-one appears convinced as they know you wear contact lens. What to do?
Well, hold upo the menu high so no-one can see what you are doing, take out your phone and quickly OCR the word and translate it. Before you know it your street credibility and self image will have been restored.
Finally, you recive a worrying letter from Hacienda (Inland revenue) asking for details of your financial affairs from 7 years ago. Do you spend the next 3 hours flipping though the dictionary translating every impossible legal term or do you simply OCR the text and translate it into a language more familiar?
All this ease of living and peace of mind can be yours for just a euro or two.
Finally, I'll tell you how I use it. When reading a book and I come across a great quote, I used to have to type it into my phone or laptop to remember it or use it in an article or tweet. Now, I just OCR it. Wonderful.
Check out the great little video below to see the ease of use. You can find out more by visiting their web site here.
Why Orwell is essential to understanding Spain today. More here - Forgotten Stories From Spain
Find out More about the ebook and audio
Forgotten Stories From Spain Book HERE
AND WATCH THE TORTILLA VIDEO HERE