Amara’s site performance increases dramatically!

Amara users have probably noticed some serious speed improvements over the past month.   Average page load time has been halved, and some specific pages have seen even more dramatic improvements.  Today we’ve deployed another set of changes which mainly affect the video pages.

Here’s a quick summary of the features and fixes added to Amara in the past month:

Speedups:

  • Cache Video/Language pages better #1839
  • Refactor Video titles #1463
  • Speed up queries for the Action model #1473
  • Speed up teams activity page load time #1517
  • Improve performance for the team activity page #1266
  • Move videos page is slow #1837
  • Speedup admin pages that have a user field #1845
  • Stop counting video views #1879

And all the rest

  • Show the primary-audio language in the tasks list display #1580
  • Add ability to send custom message when a member joins the team #829
  • List of reference languages not displayed in the editor when subtitling into primary language #1821
  • Allow private versions to be selected in the reference language area #1893
  • Editor does not display reference language selector when original language is missing #1868
  • Add cal academy to communities page #1891
  • Outdated text on Account page #1887
  • Clicking Complete did not mark subtitles as complete #1752
  • Subtitles fail to save from new editor if user has non-ascii characters in username #919
  • Use API authentication for downloading subtitles #1876
  • Respect line breaks when uploading from TXT files #1764
  • Rename ‘pan’ to Panjabi #1436
  • Add Upper Sorbian, Lower Sorbian languages #1855
  • Broken link in email notification about reviewer’s note #1846
  • Line breaks in subtitle lines not displayed on diffing page #873
  • Add languages parameter to API User resource #989
  • Return the user languages in the API Language field #1491
  • Logout redirect page is wrong #1838
  • Featured link in footer broken #1843

Amazon shoppers: Here’s an easy way to help Amara

Amara has come a long way in the past 4 years, growing from a humble prototype into a powerful open platform! Today, Amara is used by millions to create, share, and view captions and subtitles — making it possible for more people to engage, participate, and benefit from all of the amazing content online.

Developed and maintained by the Participatory Culture Foundation (PCF), a non-profit ( 501c3) organization, Amara is built by a small team of individuals who share the belief that everyone deserves to communicate globally, with full access to the richest media on the web.

If you’re an Amazon shopper, especially if you’re doing holiday shopping, you can support Amara with each purchase you make. Simply bookmark the link below and use it any time you browse or buy on Amazon. A portion of each purchase will go to PCF, which ultimately helps us keep Amara going.

Automatic Option (easy!): Install browser plugin (Firefox or Chrome) and then visit this link one time – now all Amazon.com purchases will always benefit Amara.

Bookmark Option: Drag this link to your bookmark toolbar: Amazon + Amara

Animation of dragging Amara + Amazon link to bookmark  bar

November Subtitler Spotlight

Each month we are spotlighting two of our team members so we can get to know each other a bit better, and recognize their individual contributions to Amara’s mission.

This month’s spotlight is on Mary Beth Strawn and Sebastião Nascimento! We caught up with them to hear about their favorite videos they’ve worked on, what’s happening in their lives right now, and what motivates them at Amara.


Sebastião Nascimento

What I cherish most about Amara is that there are constant opportunities for learning about fascinating people and captivating projects, whether we are dealing with architecture, culinary, music, cinema, radical sports, design, programming, you name it. Some videos are so exciting we just hope a sequel will pop up anytime on our task list, like that one documenting Fela Kuti’s candidacy for president of Nigeria, or the one tracking the thorough decomposition of one of Ryan Heffington’s choreographies into its most basic elements, or that one celebrating Reggae’s influence in the pioneering development of video game music.

Looking back, many of the most captivating videos are themselves the result of a creative field generated by the reciprocal influence between cultures. And that is precisely what I consider to be Amara’s most valuable asset: the scope of life’s experience of its translators stretching across so many cultures. Working within the Amara community we are constantly in touch with people who are passionate about languages and diversity, traveling and learning, people who instead of feeling torn between places, choose to turn their lives into bridges connecting other people, and not shying away from the efforts needed to make the allure of plurality transparent and accessible to others. Friends and people we admire may have brought us here to Amara, but then we come to admire the people we work with and they also become friends. What we do and the kind of people we become while doing it is what makes this so interesting and stimulating.

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Mary Beth Strewn

Hello everyone! I’m Mary Beth. I live in Boquete, Panamá, in the western mountain region near Costa Rica.

Some unique things about me are… I’m pregnant with my first child. It’s exciting and scary all at the same time! I work for a Spanish school helping people plan their trips to Panama for a Spanish learning experience. I grew up in Georgia, USA.

I’ve subtitled for Amara for about 8 months now and I have to say that I really enjoy working with our team and producing quality content for clients, who I know appreciate it. A recent project I enjoyed is one where Tracey B. and I worked on a difficult video for a scrutinizing client. Although it was a bit of a frustrating task overall, I am appreciative of the teamwork that went into it and the new understandings I have for some of our guidelines.

I’ve enjoyed working with a few of the videos for an arts-related client. They always focus on interesting topics such as cooking, fashion, photography and art. Art is universal, so I love that we are able to help the client translate these videos into multiple languages for the viewing pleasure of thousands (millions?) of people.

 

Mary Beth Strawn in Jamaica

dev updates 2014-10-17

Updates to amara.org 2014-10-17

Screenshot from 2014-10-17 21:43:12

 

  • New Amara homepage #1229
  • Speedup team activity page #1781 (pr)
  • Space between sendback and approve buttons #1780
  • At Typing step, display warning if any empty subtitles block syncing #1763
  • Change VideoUrl uniqueness to (url, type) #1750
  • Allow overriding subtitle editor video URL #1748
  • Properly refuse to log in users with no password #1745
  • Integrate notes more seamlessly into editor #1739

dev updates 2014-09-15

Highlights from our latest deploy

Editor notes

Users can now add notes in the editor as they are working on subtitles.  Useful as a simple reminder to self, or a way to pass on information to others who may edit later.  These changes are specific to the current editor and are not implemented in the legacy editor.

Broadcasting video specific messages for task teams

For enterprise teams that use tasks, making a comment on the main page of a video on the comments tab, will notify all followers of the language as well as anyone who was worked on a task for that language.  This is helpful if there have been changes to the video or original language translation and you want to let all people who have worked on it know about the updates.

Uploading Subtitles / Drafts

You can now upload your subtitles directly from the editor.  From the Tools menu, just select Upload subtitles.  Once the subs are uploaded you can check them over, make any edits and save as usual.

For task teams, there is no longer an upload draft button on the task page.  Instead you go right into the editor which saves a few navigation steps.

Language bar

We’ve removed it from the top of every page.  You can edit and update your languages from the profile page.  If your languages are not set, you’ll be prompted when joining a team.

If you are the manager of an application-only enterprise team, setting the language is now a mandatory part of the application process.  This will make it easier to review your applications if you are looking for specific language skills.

Edit title and description

We’ve removed the Edit title and description with the overlay popping open from the editor progress steps.  Instead it’s a link in the Review stage.

Warnings for common subtitling mistakes

There are some basic guidelines you can follow to keep you subtitles easy to read.  We’ve added some warnings for these common mistakes, to help improve subtitle quality.  Warnings don’t affect saving subtitles and can be toggled on and off via the Tools menu.

Complete list of github issues

  • Automatic warnings for common subtitling mistakes #735
  • Enable users to upload new versions (or drafts) directly to the editor new editor #993
  • Prompt users to edit title/description for review/approve tasks #1409
  • Notify followers of all languages on comments left on the main video page #1470
  • Rework the workflow steps in the new editor #1523
  • Make users have set the languages they speak when joining a team #1576
  • Remove choose your languaes from every page #1578
  • Remove link to widgetizer on video submit page #1634
  • Note system for the editor #1638
  • Subtitle Action System #1667
  • Minor Editor CSS bug – overlay instructions #1671
  • Make the editor responsive to zooming #1396

 

amara dev updates 2014-09-04

Fixes and features deployed to amara.org

The main feature of the deploy includes a changes to the youtube syncing behavior, making the account linking simpler and more visible to enterprise teams.  We’ve also added an improved ui to assist our site staff in tracking and correcting any syncing errors.

Here’s the complete list of changes:

#1488 Refactor youtube syncing to use external sites model

#523 Sync to multiple YouTube URLs

#1237 Remove “beta” from YouTube account linking controls

#1072 New videos added to linked YouTube accounts do not get Amara promo in the description

#1618 Incomplete subtitles syncing to Kaltura

#986 Uploading a new draft wipes out speaker name

#1573 Indicate which language is the primary audio lang in in the reference menu

#1612 Make RTL text displayed correctly in new embedder

#1651 Help link in the header menu resolves to a wrong URL

#1308 Local (dev env) errors on saving if title/description contain non-ascii characters

#740 Don’t allow modules to be imported 2 ways

August 2014 Subtitler Spotlight

Each month we are spotlighting two of our On Demand team members, so we can start to get to know each other a bit better, and to recognize each other’s individual contributions to Amara’s mission.

This month’s spotlight is on Tracey Hill-Bensalem and Brendan Ferreri-Hanberry! We got a chance to hear more about their daily lives, and their advice to a new team members.


 

Brendan Ferreri-Hanberry
I am located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where I am currently attending graduate school at UNC Chapel Hill in the information science program. I recommend the area if you like pine trees.

Subtitling is actually my idea of a break; it is more entertaining than much of my schoolwork. Other than that I read books, largely nonfiction relevant to politics, and practice meditation. One tip I’ve found is to use the Tab key to start and stop videos. I used to use the mouse to click on the play/pause button and it slowed me down somewhat.

I found out about Amara through Rick Doblin’s appearance on Joe Rogan’s show (which I had never heard before that night). He mentioned that the videos of the Psychedelic Science 2013 conference, sponsored by his organization, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, were available for volunteers to caption on Amara. I started captioning them as a volunteer and that was my first involvement with the company. I was hired as a paid team member soon afterwards. So thanks, Rick. Also, I like languages and information science, and Amara lets me deal with material relevant to both.

me34b

 


 

Tracey Hill-Bensalem
After spending most of my 20’s in Spain and France, working and studying, I got a job at The New Yorker magazine. I assisted with their transition to a digital workflow, first learning how it had been done for so many years (the Smithsonian actually came and photographed us amidst the pieces of cut paper, sentence fragments that were then pinned to boards, glued, and faxed to Chicago for typesetting! Imagine splitting a line by literally cutting it in two!)

I came across Amara while taking a few online classes via Coursera, where a professor suggested we might volunteer to improve the captions for their videos, and I did. With so many friends and family from other countries, many non-English speakers, as well as my love of learning, I am keenly aware and supportive of the importance and transformative power of giving people access to information.

My advice to new captioners? Nothing they don’t know already, being such a talented, bright group of people. I guess just take the time to make sure it’s your best work. Listen to the speakers, review your transcription as a reader, and watch the video as if you were a viewer. Good captioning, like good translation, should be transparent, smooth. If I learned anything after my time in publishing, it’s that no one is perfect, and we all can benefit from feedback and an extra set of eyes. I also learned that words…well, they are everything and they are magic.

thb photo3