If you're just looking for the free downloads, scroll down a few screens, and you'll find them. What follows are some reflections on computers and programming and how they may relate, at least in my mind, to theatre, dramaturgy, and even translation.
And if you're truly impatient to download Truth About Translation, you can skip all the talk about my philosophy of programming and the decription of my other programs by simply clicking
I really would like to call myself a programmer as well as a writer, playwright, translator, etc. And I might just get away with it, since I've somehow managed to qualify as an author-member of two associations comprised almost entirely of full-time hackers. But the truth is that I've done just enough programming to discover how totally mind-wrenching it can be, and I realize that I am most probably doomed forever to nibble at the edges of this particular branch of creativity.
I bought my first computer in 1986 when it was still considered de rigueur to put in some time learning some Basic and a bit of Pascal if one wanted to be considered serious, and I certainly put in the requisite hours. But all that has long ago vanished into the proverbial bit bucket, and what I now have left is some slight notion about how to write the odd batch file or deal with a specialized script language, when I absolutely have to. Plus the confidence that if there ever were some truly good reason for me to learn a full-fledged programming language, I would be able to do so without too much trouble (just as when I decided that I had to learn Chinese Medicine from the ground up, it suddenly wasn't terribly hard learning Chinese).
That isn't too likely any more--Windows and other such interfaces have opened the way so that just about anyone, for better or worse, can accomplish things on a computer without having the foggiest notion of what they are really doing. One other thing I picked up along the way was some sort of instinct for squirreling away other people's programs or pieces of programs that I might one day be able to change and incorporate as code modules for my own purposes. And I still keep collecting such bits and pieces from time to time, mainly in the areas of graphics and screen editing, and I go on saving them in bulging directories against the day I might actually need them.
More recently, like everyone else, I've also been hoarding various HTML tools, though when the time finally came to construct this website, I straightway abandoned all pretence at really learning the code and jumped at the chance of using a wysiwyg editor.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I really see programming as an extension of "dramaturgy," a set of rules and tools for organizing real, live emotional, educational, and even dramatic sequences into a meaningful structure. And even as an off-beat, odd-ball kind of translation, since I see myself as "translating" ideas out of one medium, paragraphs and pages, and into another, screens and clicking. As you'll see, I have a fair amount more to say about dramaturgy and translation elsewhere on this website. But right now I'll give you a truly practical illustration of how amateur my programming skills really are by briefly describing the four programs you can download here.
The most advanced of these is certainly Truth About Translation, and before I tell you anything more about it, you can just go ahead and download it right now, or you can wait for a few more words of explanation.
You can download Truth About Translation by
The "official" description of this program, which has appeared on Bulletin Boards and Internet links around the world, comes in what is called a FILE_ID.DIZ record, perhaps one of the most difficult and arbitrary literary forms ever invented, and reads as follows:
TRUTH ABOUT TRANSLATION ENHANCED 2. Animated
text show gives much information, removes
myths on translating/interpreting/computers.
New, menu-driven, humorously probes complex
language problems, presents famous quotations
about translation spanning 2,500 years PLUS
hilarious "Translation Bloopers" by man &
machine PLUS humorous and insightful ideas
about how both language & translation truly
work. Animated/printable. Registered Vers.
What this is saying in somewhat hopped-up, hyped-up shareware language is that this program deals with many aspects of translation in a relatively painless manner. What is hidden from view is the fact that the program also contains the full text of a number of carefully written articles on the subject. It is absolutely free of charge. (What made the FILE_ID.DIZ record an even harder literary form than the sonnet back in those pre-Windows days is that it must express its entire meaning in no more than ten lines, each line must contain no more than forty characters and spaces, and the whole file must measure no more than 399 charactersplus which there are some strict rules on which characters can be used).
From a programming point of view, Truth About Translation is almost a complete cheat. I used an authoring program called Automessage to construct it, and then I asked another programmer to provide me with a menu function to make it easier to navigate.
How to "Run" Truth About Translation
The simplest way of "running" this program, assuming you have unzipped all the files in the ZIP to a single folder, is simply to go to that folder and click on the file labelled "tt.bat." Or if you know how to use DOS commands, then go to the command line and simply enter "tt" (without the quotes) followed by <ENTER>.
Either way should launch the slide show part of the program, You can also simply look at the contents or print them out by clicking on all the files ending in .txt or .asc. On second thought, the main file with most of the contents, called ALLTEXT.ASC, may not be readable in Windows unless you change its name to ALLTEXT.TXT. You can do this by right-clicking on its icon & then going to Rename File & clicking on that.
The purpose of the slide show is mainly to cause a stir at translators & linguistics conferences, you might find it boring to sit watching it at home. So you might just want to look at the text files.
If this all sounds too complex, ply a techie type with his favorite drink or desert and perhaps he will work it out for you...:-)
The slide show part definitely won't work for the MAC, so if you must see it, then you'll need to get hold of a DOS or Windows based machine. Though you should be able to read the text files anyway.
The full instructions for how to run the program can be found in two files, INSTALL.DOC and VENDINFO.DIZ, both of which an earlier generation of computer users was trained to seek out & obey. What you're looking at is a 1995 program, so be grateful that it runs at all.
My second program, called PC-RELAX, almost made it to commercial success and contains some very real programming, which unfortunately I did not write (although my name is on the first screen as co-author). Its main claim to fame is that it is one of the earlier "eye-candy" programs and quite possibly the very first to boast that it might actually help people viewing it to relax. When I first discovered this program, it was called ARTIFICIAL ART and was solely the work of the Swiss programmer Kurt Baumann. It created an infinite number of designs on the screen, and my wife and I found it so imaginative that we contacted the author and worked with him on various ideas for printing out its designs. This led me to reflect that by adding a few other functions, which I was able to summarize in something resembling pseudocode, a similar program could at least lay claim to relaxing or stimulatingdepending on the settingsthose who chose to watch it.
Alas, the whole program was written during the last days of the long since outmoded CGA color system, but I was nonetheless able to launch it under its new name and get it reviewed in PC Magazine and elsewhere before we decided it was a dead end. Since then any number of screen-saver programs have made much the same claims of helping users and viewers to relax, and some have even flourished. So if you don't get bored by watching CGA patterns and/or are at all impressed by "early software archeology," here is your chance to obtain this program. To find your way around, press "M" for Menu at any point.
You can download PC-RELAX by clicking here!
My third program has perhaps the least claim to originality of the three, though at least it skirts the outer boundaries of linguistics. It is called UFOLAND and generates a theoretically infinite number of UFO "landing" reports, just in case you needed any more of those. Its technical evolution was quite simple. I discovered on-line a freeware program called MEMO, based on a shell writen in FORTH. In some ways it was a primitive forerunner of the "Chomsky-Bot" featured elsewhere on this website. All it did was generate a large number of portentously boring official-sounding documents its author thought sounded like "memos." I decided I could expand and revamp it and make it a bit more amusing by shifting the subject to supposed UFO sighting reports. And that is what I did. Round about 1988 it was available on Bulletin Boards everywhere. And now it's all yours. Type "ufo" to run the program, press "q" to exit.
You can download UFOLAND by clicking here!
My fourth program, written three years later, returns to the domain of language and translation. It is intended to prove that there are nuances of language that computers never have the slightest chance of capturing and is called:
THE GLORIOUS VERB "TO PUT"
While some might imagine that a homespun word like "put" would be a cinch to translate, "put" truly puts you on the spot, because it has at least 200 different meanings depending on nearby prepositions and probably hundreds of other extended meanings, including "to put someone on the spot."
Each of these meanings requires a different translation into most foreign languages. This program provides the meanings and translations into French and German for over 100 of these usages and includes considerable information about the others.
You can download THE GLORIOUS VERB "TO PUT" right now by clicking here. Take a look at the DOC file too.
At present I have no plans to write, co-author, or merely concoct any further programs, but you can be sure that if I ever do, they are quite likely to end up here as well. :-)
Path to pad_file.xml
The downloadable programs described
above are each Copyright according
to the terms appearing on each
one, by Alexander Gross. They may
not be used for any commercial (i.e.,
money-making) purpose without
written permission from the author.
All Rights Reserved.