2007 Jul 4, 10:58Hackdiary
I really enjoy reading Matt Biddulph's blog hackdiary
. An entry some time ago talked about his Second
Life flickr screen
which is a screen in Second Life that displays images from flickr.com based on viewers suggested tags. I'm a novice to the Second Life scripting API and so it was from this
blog post I became aware of the llHTTPRequest
. This is like the XMLHttpRequest for Second Life code in that it lets you make HTTP requests.
I decided that I too could do something cool with this.
I decided to make a translator object that a Second Life user would wear that would translate anything said near them. The details aren't too surprising: The translator object keeps an owner
modifiable list of translation instructions each consisting of who to listen to, the language they speak, who to tell the translation to, and into what language to translate. When the translator
hears someone, it runs through its list of translation instructions and when it finds a match for the speaker uses the llHTTPRequest to send off what was said to Google translate
. When the result comes back the translator simply says the response.
Unfortunately, the llHTTPRequest limits the response size to 2K and no translation site I can find has the translated text in the first 2K. There's a flag HTTP_BODY_MAXLENGTH provided but it defaults
to 2K and you can't change its value. So I decided to setup a PHP script on my site to act as a translating proxy and parse the translated text out of the HTML response from Google translate. Through
experimentation I found that their site can take parameters text and langpair queries in the query like so:
. On the topic of non US-ASCII characters (which is important for a translator) I
found that llHTTPRequest encodes non US-ASCII characters as percent-encoded UTF-8 when constructing the request URI. However, when Google translate takes parameters off the URI it only seems to
interpret it as percent-encoded UTF-8 when the user-agent is IE's. So after changing my PHP script to use IE7's user-agent
US-ASCII character input worked.
Actually using it in practice is rather difficult. Between typos, slang, abbreviations, and the current state of the free online translators its very difficult to carry on a conversation.
Additionally, I don't really like talking to random people on Second Life anyway. So... not too useful.