Stick a fish in your ear.

Those who aren’t Douglas Adams fans may not get the reference, but Google announced today the closest thing the world has yet to a “universal translator”. Now when you use Google Talk, you can invite translation bots to the chat. Have a pal in Germany? Want to discuss a bug with a developer in Japan? These bots can help bridge the language barrier. Or, of course, make a complete mess of things. It’s just out today, so there is definitely room for improvement, and automated translations often leave something to be desired, but it’s a good (and important) first step. Especially in the world of Free Software, where people of many different nations collaborate on projects on a regular basis.

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