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TGIF: Happy Halloween! October 31, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff.
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I am flying to Orlando today for a much needed mini-vacation and the ATA conference. I’ll be back in the office on the 11th. I’m not sure if I will be posting for the next 10 days, so please be patient if I don’t. I promise I will have all kinds of things to talk about after the conference.

I wanted to leave you with a non-translation-related video in honor of Halloween. This has some blue language (a.k.a. naughty words), but it is hilarious – and very true. The local news reported that a guy in England was told to take down some of his decorations because they were “too scary.” Give me a break! When I was little, the guy down the street (who had worked for Disney at one point) decorated his house to the hilt with scary decorations – I’m talking shutters askew, witch flying down on a broomstick, coffin opening, etc. – all to really spooky music and sounds. As a kid I was terrified to walk through there, but now I think back on that “haunted house” with fondness every year at Halloween! It totally rocked!

Folks, I hope you enjoy Foamy the Squirrel. Happy Halloween!

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TGIF: Stay one step ahead October 31, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff.
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It’s Friday! Time for another language-related video. All these Berlitz ads are starting to seem familiar, but they definitely get the point across in a unique way.

Blog lunch update October 30, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Random musings.
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I am busy tying up loose ends before I leave for Orlando first thing tomorrow morning. Since I am the one who suggested it, I just want to specify some details for our upcoming Blog Lunch (for bloggers and readers) in Orlando. I haven’t chosen the restaurant, but let’s meet in the lobby immediately after the morning session ends at 12:30 on Thursday to go out for lunch. I will be in the lobby as soon as I can after my presentation, so you should expect me around 12:45. That will give me time to answer questions and pack my stuff up. I can run to the Exhibit Hall to drop off my resumes and business cards after lunch. We can walk to a nearby restaurant together. Since I will be arriving Tuesday afternoon I will have scoped things out by then. See you then!

Lost the dongle October 29, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff.
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Caveat emptor: My apologies if any of you are easily offended by nudity (although let’s face it, most translators have lived in other countries and don’t get offended by nudity and technically this isn’t nudity… 🙂 )

I am cleaning some files off my computer and discovered this little gem that someone sent me in 2005. Anyone who used to work with Trados back when it required the use of a dongle will really appreciate this. For those of you who don’t know what a dongle is/was, it was a small device that plugged into the serial port or parallel port of a computer in order for it to use protected software. When the dongle was not present (missing, not plugged in all the way, defective, etc.), the software would only run in a restricted mode or refuse to run at all. Ah, good times…

Creating a conducive work environment October 29, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Random musings.
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I woke up this morning to snow. It had been sleeting off and on all day yesterday, but I kept telling myself it was okay as long as the snow didn’t stick (that’s Ohio-speak for “accumulate on the ground and not melt away”). I had hoped it wouldn’t snow until after I had left for Florida, but I’m going to see this as the glass being half full and now say it will make me appreciate Florida all the more.

When the weather turns cold, I tend to nest in my apartment. My office isn’t heated (I converted a neat little storage room off my bedroom), but with the door to the bedroom open it tends to stay pretty comfortable. When it gets really cold I have a space heater that I can use. But most of the time I can work with just a sweater or sweatshirt, comfy bottoms, and warm, fuzzy socks and stay reasonably comfortable.

It is really important to have a work environment that is conducive to work, so I also usually light a candle in the winter to soothe me. I usually have a lavender candle going, but I unboxed my Halloween decorations yesterday and have a nice triple-layer candle from Root Candle (Pumpkin Spice, Mulled Cider and Citrus Grove) burning this morning. Also, in honor of the first day of snow, I broke out my last remaining can of Borders Pumpkin Chai. Borders discontinued its chai several years ago and I had been hording it, only making a couple mugs a month. I recently discovered that Borders Chai is/was Mystic Chai, so I found an online distributor and bought it in bulk to make it through the winter. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find any Pumpkin Chai, but their Vanilla Chai is wonderful too.

So I’m ready to tackle the day, with a candle burning and a steaming mug of Pumpkin Chai next to me. Hope your day is just as relaxing despite the fact that everyone is scrambling to get translation jobs completed before the ATA conference starts and the translation industry is down 2,000 translators.

P.S.: I just received a response from Mystic Chai to my e-mail this morning:

Thank you for your interest in our product. We are no longer producing the Mystic Pumpkin Chai. The two flavors we have available are the Spiced and Vanilla. Please let me know if you have any other questions.
Now we know.

Tempers flaring all over the place October 29, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Random musings.
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One of the blogs I subscribe to, The Happiness Project, has a really interesting post about staying calm despite pre-election jitters. Even if you aren’t in the U.S. I think this is sound advice in general. I’ve noticed that tempers are flaring all over the place at the moment (on Monday there were petty arguments on four of the listservs I subscribe to – not all translation-related), so I wanted to share this with you all. I think it has to do with the fact that the weather is turning bad and people are stressed out with the start of the holiday season, too much work, the push to get everything done before leaving for the ATA conference, etc. It’s a very strange phenomenon I noticed several years ago, because I fell prey to it.

Deciphering illegible source texts October 27, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Random musings, Translation Sites.
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I agreed to translate a batch of medical invoices and reports this week and am just realizing that the source documents are so illegible that my OCR program will not read them. It took an hour to run the 46 pages through ABBYY FineReader, but the results were so abysmal I threw the results out and decided to print the pages out and type the translation by hand. As a result I won’t be able to give my client a price quote. It is a disquieting feeling – not knowing how many words await me and being unable to use Trados on the files. Even if the source text is pretty bad I usually run it through ABBYY for a rough word count, copy and paste the text into a clean Word file, and format it by hand. These source texts were so bad it would have been completely counterproductive, so now I get to look forward to deciphering illegible doctor’s stamps and handwritten referrals for the next few days.

You don’t realize how dependent you become on programs like ABBYY and Trados until you can’t use them. I had a flash of brilliance while writing this post and decided to delete the illegible pages in Adobe Acrobat and then run those legible pages through ABBY. I also have printed out all 46 pages to refer to as needed (the down side to this is that I have now used up all my “scrap” paper for printing and will have to use fresh pages for a while…). It isn’t a complete panacea, but it will allow me to translate the legible invoices and medical reports and get a general idea of what awaits me. I feel like an idiot for not having thought of it sooner. I definitely have a bad case of the Mondays!

TGIF: How to never be unnatural or ridiculous October 24, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff.
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Sorry for the blog silence this week. I am completely overwhelmed with work and am counting the hours to Friday afternoon, when all of my projects are due. Hopefully next week will be better. I only have about 40 pages of medical invoices and referrals to translate. Then I leave for FLORIDA! I can’t wait…

Anyway, it is Friday! Time for another video. Since I don’t speak French I can’t judge how good this gentleman’s French is, but I doubt he learned it in two weeks. Good thing he doesn’t look unnatural or ridiculous doing it. 🙂 Have a great weekend! I hope to stay as far away from the computer as I can.

Dealing with time zone differences October 21, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Translation Sites.
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I had an “urgent job inquiry” in my e-mail in box yesterday morning from an agency in Germany. The time stamp was 4 a.m. I had woken up earlier than I normally do and was already at my computer drinking my first cup of coffee. I responded saying I would be happy to translate it but wouldn’t be able to start it until Tuesday – and that I would understand if they decided this time frame wasn’t acceptable and found someone else. They responded saying they had already found someone. I got the impression that they had found someone within an hour of sending the e-mail.

This is one of my biggest pet peeves: agencies who ignore time zone differences. Did they expect me to be at my computer at 4 a.m. just waiting to respond to their e-mail? I love working with European agencies, because with the exchange rate the pay is good and I can translate the text and have it in their in box in the morning when they get into the office. But the time zone thing can really be annoying. I wish some agencies would institute a policy where they will contact Translator Group Europe if they need a response right away and Translator Group U.S. if they have a few hours to wait for a response.

I suppose I should consider myself lucky though. At least they didn’t call me on the phone…

Petition to roll back iGoogle design change October 19, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Random musings, Tools.
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If you are a long-time reader of this site, you will know that I love my iGoogle homepage. It keeps me up-to-date on a lot of news and provides me with entertainment and crossword puzzles for much-needed breaks. iGoogle allows you to customize the page to have all your information at your fingertips, including news sources, weather, RSS feeds, and all kinds of neat Google gadgets that make your life easier. I also have my web-based e-mail addresses (Yahoo! and Gmail), which I rarely or never looked at before, built in to my iGoogle page, so I am able to see at a glance if I have e-mails in my in boxes and call them up by opening a separate browser tab.

Last week iGoogle changed the design of the iGoogle Homepage to include a change known as ‘Canvas View.’ According to the Technology Blog at the Guardian, the new iGoogle is getting “a mixed reception.” Instead of putting the tabs on the top, Canvas View creates a drop-down tab area to the left side of the screen. This is a huge waste of space if you only use one tab – or even if you have several. It can in no way be considered an improvement. As a hyperorganized person I have my gadgets organized on the iGoogle page according to frequency of use and then by subject matter (calendar and to-do list at the top, all news feeds and entertainment sites grouped together below that). The new tab just lists the gadgets in no particular discernible order.

I tried to create new tabs to break down my various gadgets into categories, but was frustrated because I couldn’t drag and drop the gadgets between my tabs. In my search for a solution I stumbled on an online petition to roll the design change back. My favorite sentence from the petition is:

…as users of your service, and various other services, we would like to request that companies such as yourself take note of this, and not use force to push redesigns on your respective users. While we are very aware that it is your services and website over which you rightly have total control, forcing a redesign on we, the users who live with these products every day is rude, and it disengenders our sense of loyalty to continuing to use your services.

If you would like to sign the petition, click here. I don’t know if it will do much good, but I definitely wanted to voice my displeasure with the new change. This gave me a forum to do so. Hopefully iGoogle will soon allow us to go back to the old format if we so choose.

Thanks to some persistent googling on my part apparently there is a fix to the problem called iGoogle Sidebar Collapse. The iGoogle Sidebar Collapse Greasemonkey script toggles the visibility of the new iGoogle sidebar with the click of a mouse or a user-defined keyboard shortcut. If you want to learn more, click here. I’m going to go install it now…