More on Vancouver Opera’s business situation

Posted by Jim DeLaHunt on 31 Jul 2015 | Tagged as: British Columbia, Vancouver, culture, music

Last month, the Vancouver Opera announced that it was going to have one more year of a regular season, then switch to a “festival” structure. That is, instead of four productions spaced throughout the year, it was going to have a concentrated three-week burst of opera once a year. Or at least that’s how the story seemed to run. Yesterday, I went to a town hall for subscribers. General Director Jim Wright spent 30 minutes laying out the Opera’s business situation, and an hour in a lively question and answer session. It was informative, and placed the Opera’s strategy in a much better light. Continue Reading »

‘’tain’t right’, says he: storm in apostrophe

Posted by Jim DeLaHunt on 14 Jun 2015 | Tagged as: Unicode, culture, language

A friend pointed me to a interesting blog post, Which Unicode character should represent the English apostrophe? (And why the Unicode committee is very wrong.) by Ted Clancy, 3. June 2015. The argument: “The Unicode committee is very clear that U+2019 (RIGHT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK) should represent the English apostrophe…. This is very, very wrong. The character you should use to represent the English apostrophe is U+02BC (MODIFIER LETTER APOSTROPHE). I’m here to tell you why why….” [Emphasis in the original.]

I understand that there might be many people on this planet who actually don’t care about English language orthography concerning the apostrophe, contractions, and Unicode plain text representations thereof. Go ahead, skip this post and go on with your day. I am completely captivated by such questions. I started writing a quick reply, which grew to the point where it seemed better to host it on my blog than on Clancy’s comments page. Continue Reading »

Things the docs never told me about SQLalchemy

Posted by Jim DeLaHunt on 31 May 2015 | Tagged as: Python, software engineering

In recent weeks, I have been working intensively with SQLalchemy for a consulting client. SQLalchemy is a Python-language toolkit for using SQL databases in applications. I’ve used Python, and SQL databases, and SQL queries, and a different Python-language toolkit for using SQL databases in applications, this was my first in-depth encounter with SQLalchemy. I had to do a lot of learning. SQLalchemy, despite its scads of documentation, and good tutorials, didn’t tell me some important concepts. Here’s a brief list, in an attempt to gather my thoughts and insights.

This list doesn’t include the important concepts the documentation does include, just what it (to my reading) left out. And I haven’t attempted to flesh out these points. That might be a good future blog.  It is concepts that I wish I had learned earlier and more easily.

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Music score pain points for the chorus

Posted by Jim DeLaHunt on 12 Apr 2015 | Tagged as: Keyboard Philharmonic, culture, music

A chorus that uses printed music scores, a 5-century-old technology, for rehearsal and performance will encounter pain points. Printed scores are expensive and difficult to stock and manage. Singers can find it hard to understand where in a score a director is, especially when members use different editions. Scores have mistakes to correct, details to tailor for a specific for performance, which are hard to communicate to each singer. And more. The coming public-domain digital music scores offer help for some of these pain points. Yet the printed scores have strengths, built by 5 centuries of music practice, which digital music scores will be hard put to match.

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About the Keyboard Philharmonic

Posted by Jim DeLaHunt on 31 Mar 2015 | Tagged as: Keyboard Philharmonic, culture, music

The newly-founded Keyboard Philharmonic is a music charity which aims to enlist music lovers to transcribe opera and classical music scores into a revisable, shareable, digital format, and then give those digital scores away for free. One way to think of it is as a way to bring Mozart and Beethoven’s scores into the digital age. I’m passionate about it, and I’m working hard to get it started.

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A Technology Globalization meetup for the Vancouver Area: (3) Where, When, and How

Posted by Jim DeLaHunt on 28 Feb 2015 | Tagged as: Unicode, Vancouver, culture, i18n, language, meetings and conferences, multilingual, software engineering

Our little meetup now has a name: Vancouver Globalization and Localization Users Group, or VanGLUG for short. Follow us as @VanGLUG on Twitter.  We had an outreach meeting in late January. So it’s long past time to conclude this series of thoughts about VanGLUG. Part 3 discusses “Where, When, and How”. Earlier in the series were A Technology Globalization meetup for the Vancouver Area: (1) What, Who (Oct 31, 2014), and A Technology Globalization meetup for the Vancouver Area: (2) Why, Naming (Dec 31, 2014).


One challenge of an in-person meeting is where to hold it. The usual habit for such events is to meet in downtown Vancouver. This can be inconvenient, not to mention tedious, for those of us in Surrey or Burnaby. But I expect this is how we will start.

I would, however, be delighted if there was enough interest in other parts of the Lower Mainland to start up satellite groups in other locations as well.

Could we meet virtually?  In this day and age, it should be cheap and practical to do a simple webcast of meetings. Some may want to participate remotely. An IRC channel or Twitter “second screen” may emerge. But in my experience, the networking which I suspect will be our biggest contribution will come from in-person attendance.


In an era of busy schedules, finding a time to meet is likely an overconstrained problem. Our technology industry tends to hold meetings like this on weekday evenings, sometimes over beer, and I suspect that is how we will start. But it is interesting to consider breakfast or lunch meetings.

When to get started?  The arrival of Localization World 2014 in Vancouver got a dozen local localization people to attend, and provided the impetus to turn interest into concrete plans. After Localization world, we started communicating and planning. The net result was a first meeting in mid-day of Monday, December 8, 2014. Despite the holiday distraction, we were able to land a spot guest-presenting to VanDev on 6 essentials every developer should know about international. Our next opportunity to meet will likely be April 2015, perhaps March.


The Twitter feed @VanGLUG was our first communications channel. I encourage any Twitter user interested in monitoring this effort to follow @VanGLUG. We have 37 followers at the moment. We were using the twitter handle @IMLIG1604 before, and changed that name while keeping our followers. The present @IMLIG1604 handle is a mop-up account, to point stragglers to @VanGLUG.We created a group on LinkedIn to use as a discussion forum. This has the snappy and memorable URL If you use LinkedIn, are in the Lower Mainland or nearby, and are interested in localization and related disciplines, we welcome you joining the LinkedIn Group. We are also accepting members from out of area (for instance, Washington and Oregon) in the interests of cross-group coordination. But for location-independent localization or globalization discussion, there are more appropriate groups already on LinkedIn.

Subsequent communications channels might perhaps include a Meetup group (if we want to put up the money), an email list, an outpost on a Facebook page, and other channels as there is interest.

GALA (the Globalization and Language Association) is one of our industry organisations. It has a membership and affiliate list that includes people from the Vancouver region. I spoke with one of their staff at Localization World. They are interested in encouraging local community groups. I believe this initiative is directly in line with their interest: we can be the local GALA community for here.  They have included us in a list of regional Localization User Groups. We are also on IMUG’s list of “IMUG-style” groups.
Do you want to see this meetup grow? If so, I welcome your input and participation. You can tweet to @VanGLUG, post comments on this blog, or send me email at jdlh “at” Call me at +1-604-376-8953.

See you at the meetings!

Resolving error “Error: Unable to find ‘python.swg’”, when installing pycdio on Mac OS X

Posted by Jim DeLaHunt on 25 Jan 2015 | Tagged as: Python, robobait

I just resolved a problem installing a Python module pycdio on my Mac OS X 10.10.1 “Yosemite” operating system. The error message was obscure: “Error: Unable to find ‘python.swg’”, and “Error: Unable to find ‘typemaps.i’”. The solution involved something non-obvious about how Mac Ports handles swig. Here’s my notes, in hopes of helping others seeing this error.

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A Technology Globalization meetup for the Vancouver Area: (2) Why, Naming

Posted by Jim DeLaHunt on 31 Dec 2014 | Tagged as: Unicode, Vancouver, culture, i18n, language, meetings and conferences, multilingual, software engineering

I am helping to start a regular face-to-face event series which will bring together the people in the Vancouver area who work in technology globalization, internationalization, localization, and translation (GILT) for networking and learning. This post is the second in a series where I put into words my percolating thoughts about this group.  See also, A Technology Globalization meetup for the Vancouver Area: (1) What, Who (Oct 31, 2014).

Happily, this group has already started. We held our first meeting on Monday, Dec 8, 2014. Our placeholder Twitter feed is @imlig1604; follow that and you’ll stay connected when we pick our final name. And we have a group on LinkedIn for sharing ideas. The link isn’t very memorable, but go to LinkedIn Groups and search for “Vancouver localization”; you will find us. (We don’t yet have an account on the service.)  If you are in the Lower Mainland and are interested, I would welcome your participation.

Continuing with my reflections about this group, here are thoughts on why this group should exist, and what it might be named.

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A Technology Globalization meetup for the Vancouver Area: (1) What, Who

Posted by Jim DeLaHunt on 31 Oct 2014 | Tagged as: Unicode, Vancouver, i18n, language, meetings and conferences, multilingual, software engineering

The time has come, I believe, for a regular face-to-face event series which will bring together the people in the Vancouver area who work in technology globalization, internationalization, localization, and translation (GILT) for networking and learning.  The Vancouver tech community is large enough that we have a substantial GILT population. In the last few weeks, I’ve heard from several of us who are interested in making something happen. My ambition is to start this series off by mid-December 2014.

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The best of our shared musical heritage, using the best of the Information Age

Posted by Jim DeLaHunt on 30 Sep 2014 | Tagged as: culture

Serious or “classical” music has brought me great joy throughout my life. I have sung in choruses since childhood, and in operas for twenty years. I’m not a skilled musician. But being a participant makes the beauty and value of our shared musical heritage vividly alive. The efforts of musicians world-wide, amateur and pro, great and small, are what lets us pass the heritage on to future generations.

The information age is transforming our lives, sector by sector. Business, science, entertainment, communication. We have SMS and emails to help us communicate. We have spell-checkers and auto-correct help us write. We have web terminals in our pockets that let us read the best of the old books and the freshest of the newest microblogs. We have a huge range of recordings and videos for playback on demand.

Yet in all of this, the practice of music is in some ways stuck in the 1500’s — or, at best, the 19th century. When we start to sing, we pull out printed paper booklets more often than we pull out tablet screens. Rehearsals are bogged down because different people have different editions of the same musical work, with different page numbers. Wrong notes, or missing accidentals, in 50-year-old scores are uncorrected. Music directors lose rehearsal time to dictating cuts, assigning this lines to the tenor 1s and that to the tenor 2s, telling us on where to breathe and what bowing to use. And for the grand “Messiah” sing-along, a chorus must haul out hundreds of excess copies of chorus scores, distribute them to the audience, and then, hardest of all, collect them all back at the end.

The information age has provided us tools to solve these problems much more simply, for text and photos at least. We have word-processor files and photo-editors, which let us make corrections. We take for granted being able to re-typeset the modified text into a beautifully laid-out document, with our choice of typefaces. We can cast the documents into PDF files, and send them to their destinations. If there are errors, or tweaks specific to our project, it’s no problem to make a quick modification and redo the layout. If we want everyone in the room to read something, we can have them load it on a web page using their mobile device.

It is time that we do the same thing with music. It is time that it become routine for music scores to be handled in a revisable, reusable, high-quality digital form. Let’s call them “digiscores”. We should be able to make minor corrections. We should have the music equivalent of ebook readers at our disposal. We should be able to distribute scores electronically as conveniently as we distribute ebooks or emails.

Much of the great works of serious music date from the 19th century or earlier. They have long since entered the public domain. They are our shared heritage, part of our cultural soup. They should be freely available to everyone to mash-up and create with. But the notes of Verdi and Mozart are trapped in printed form, in books that are hard to obtain, or expensive due to the high overhead of low sales volumes. Publishers layer a new libretto translation on top of the public domain notes, and put a “do not photocopy” on the combination. A secondary school music teacher cannot pull Mozart from the cultural soup to use for the choir, because the packaging is obstructed by unnecessary copyright.

What we need are the public domain music scores, in revisable, reusable, high quality “digiscore” form, available as public domain digital files. In this form, they can be hosted cheaply, distributed for free, and used by everyone from the top symphonies, to the school music teachers, to the music-lovers exploring on their own.

Many talented people are innovating in this space. Many pieces are available. The Internet Music Score Library Project (IMSLP), aka the Petrucci Music Library, is making scanned images of public domain music scores freely available by the hundreds of thousands — but they are not revisable “digiscores”. There is music recognition computer software like Audiveris, SmartScan, and many others — but their output needs proofreading and correcting by humans before it is a usable “digiscore”. Project Gutenberg has proved the model of providing revisable digital versions of public domain works — but for texts, not music. The Project Gutenberg Distributed Proofreading project has a powerful structure for turning computer-generated drafts into final form — but they too have more traction for texts than for music. The Musopen project is commissioning quality recordings of a few of these works — but a recording of someone else’s performance is not what a chorus needs to make its own performance. MusicXML provides a promising foundation for a digiscore format — but a format is not a corpus. Musescore, Lilypond, Sibelius, Finale, and other tools put music entry and notation in the hands of a wider and wider audience — but we need a wider and wider group to use those tools. The Internet Archive is willing and able to host and distribute freely-available content — but someone has to provide the content.

There is a need for initiatives to harness the good will of music lovers, to equip them with tools and social structures, and help them turn public-domain music scores (and scans of scores) into public-domain digiscores, for free public use and re-use. I seek to contribute my energy to forming one such initiative. I will communicate more in the future. For now, this is my direction and my purpose.

If this vision excites you, please let me know in the comments below. (Later, there will be an announcement email list to join, and a web site at which to register, and so on.) There is a lot of work to do, and with many volunteers in an effective social structure, great results are possible. Wikipedia has shown us that. I would love to have your help.

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