Archive for April, 2010

Foreign Language Audio on Demand at RhinoSpike.com

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

RhinoSpikeSo aside from my day job and my family, I’ve been keeping myself busy since December working on a project with my friend Thomas that we’ve released to the public just a few weeks ago. That project is RhinoSpike, a web site where people can submit text in a foreign language to be read aloud and recorded by native speakers of that language. In return, people can read and record themselves reading texts submitted in their native language for students of that language. It’s swap meet of mp3 files, only instead of copyrighted music, these mp3 files contain the voice and sound of many languages worldwide! I consider it my small and humble contribution to the goal of bringing peace and goodwill towards men through learning each others language.

The entire venture is a part-time deal for myself and Thomas, because we both have day jobs. So we had to maximize the effect of our efforts by building on a platform that provides all of the basic stuff that just about any website needs these days. That platform for us is Pinax, which is itself built on top of Django in the Python programming language. I can’t say enough good things about Pinax because it let us focus on what was unique to our site, while Pinax handled user authentication, OpenID, avatars, Gravatar, social network features like friends and messaging, announcements, administration, error handling, internationalization, and so much more that we actually had to strip out some of the built-in features because we felt it was too much for our site. These features are very modular and allowed us to essentially turn them on and off as if by a switch.

This project has been a great learning experience for me and continues to be so. In just three weeks we have almost 900 users, who mostly have found their way to our site via word of mouth on Twitter and some great language learning blogs. These users have been making many suggestions to make RhinoSpike even better, some of which we’ve already implemented and many more which we plan to do soon.

If you haven’t done so already, check RhinoSpike out, and tell me what you think! I’d love to hear it!