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TGIF: Uma Thurman markets Schweppes in France May 27, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff, TGIF.
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Celebrities market products overseas all the time. It’s a great way to make some cash while cashing in on their popularity. Arnold Schwarzenegger crazily hawking some product in Japan is a favorite I posted two years ago here on the blog. This sexy ad featuring Uma Thurman is a Schweppes commercial that is currently airing on French TV. In the ad Ms. Thurman can’t stop huskily explaining her wanton desire to have Schweppes constantly, with anyone, anywhere. This kind of commercial would be accompanied by all kinds of protests by the prudes in the U.S. 🙂 Enjoy!

10 Productivity Tips for the Mobile Translation Professional – Ana Iaria @ TCD May 24, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA, Tech tips, Tools.
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Translators truly are the epitome of mobile professionals. We can live and work from anywhere as long as we have a computer and an Internet connection. Ana frequently works on several continents a year, so her session on productivity tips for the mobile professional was chock full of tips to make working anywhere as easy and productive as possible.

Tip 1: Have a portable computer

There are various models, sizes and prices as netbooks or laptops. It is up to you to choose whichever computer you feel comfortable working on. Netbooks are not as easy to type on as laptops, but they can be quite handy if you are simply traveling and want to stay connected. Ana suggests a MacBookPro as a second computer, because then you can have both Windows and Mac. Be sure to install all the software you need to work on it (TEnTs, Office products, electronic dictionaries, etc.) – “don’t keep it as a bare-bones computer.”

Tip 2: Keeping time and time zones

Keeping track of the time zone you are in and the time zones of your clients is of paramount importance. Ana’s first suggestion was a time zone converter that does not rely on an Internet connection. Her favorite bookmark is World Clock, which also offers a iPhone app. Windows 7 also allows you to add an additional clock to your system. If you work with a Mac, she highly recommends using the VelaClock widget.

Tip 3: Gadgetry for your computer

* Flux is a screen dimmer that works with sunset/sunrise and changes the computer monitor to reduce glare on your eyes.
* If you work with Firefox there are all kinds of add-ons to make your life easier (drop-down dictionaries, add-ons like FoxClock, Xmarks, MultiRowBookmarks, etc.).
* Ana recommends buying what she calls a “bag of tricks”. It is an organizer called Grid-It that allows you to carry your external mouse, converters, cables, pen drives, etc.

Tip 4: Mobile communications

A smartphone is a must for a mobile professional. It allows you to check e-mail, use apps that make your life easier while traveling, and keep in touch with clients. If possible, get a SIM card for the country you are in so you can make and receive calls. A Skype number is also a very good solution. Someone during the presentation suggested using MagicJack to make inexpensive international calls in the United States and Canada.

Tip 5: Online storage and backup

Sync software is important to ensure your computer always has the files you need. Mac has a tool called Time Machine that allows you to sync your computers. Dropbox is another tool that allows you to easily move between computers or store files online for easy access. Adrive or Yousendit were other suggestions to store and share large files.

Tip 6: Working with WiFi

WiFi has revolutionized how we stay connected. Ana recommended several WiFi locators such as Fon (with which you buy a dongle and share WiFi with people all over the world who have offered to share their WiFi) or Total Hotspots. Another WiFi finder is Jiwire. Skype offers the Boingo network. Ana recommends scouting the WiFi spots before you leave for your destination and printing them out if necessary so you are prepared. Another option is to get a Starbucks card, which allows you to use WiFi at any Starbucks. If you are travelling in your country considering tethering your laptop to your mobile phone (be sure to check your contract first).

One word of warning though – be aware of open networks. If you are on an unsecured network don’t log into your bank’s website, for example. Also be sure you are running malware detection programs and anti-virus software on your computer at all times. You are as safe as you want to be.

Tip 7: If you are traveling for leisure

* Don’t overwork yourself
* Take some time off to visit places. Don’t hole yourself up in the hotel. Go out and see the sights and visit friends/family. (I am particularly guilty of this. I was translating a cookbook when visiting a friend in Munich. I worked during the day while he worked. I think I only took one day to be a tourist. Sure, I had already been to Munich several times, but that one afternoon off sitting in a café at the palace was very refreshing.)
* But always be available to your clients. Even if you are on vacation a short e-mail thanking them for the inquiry but explaining you are currently unavailable – and perhaps recommending a colleague – goes a long way to keep your customer happy.

Tip 8: If traveling for business/conferences

* Make the most of the conference
* If meeting clients, point out that you are working on the go, you can score a point or two.
* Don’t forget to network – and work
* Enjoy the social side of it as well

Tip 9: Don’t forget the productivity tools you use at home

* Have the same software on all computers – TEnTs, dictionaries, Office, any Open Source programs, etc.
* Olifant helps you create and maintain translation memories (TM) files (conversion, editing, etc.). Olifant is a .NET application that allows you to load or import translation memories in different formats (such as TMX or tab-delimited); edit the translation units, their attributes and any other associated data; and save or export your data in various formats.
* Apsis Xbench is an integrated reference tool aimed to provide a clear and structured view of the terminology of any translation project.
* Electronic dictionaries
* You can keep your reference files on your virtual drive folder
* Password manager or export

Tip 10: Check your list before going mobile

Ask yourself if you have your
* Computer
* Cell phone
* Storage
* WiFi finder
* Bag of tricks

PC World: Google Docs Translations Don’t Make Sense May 18, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Random musings, Translation.
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A reporter at PC World is doing a series on Google Docs, and today he took a close look at their claim that they can “easily translate documents into 53 different languages.” He asked his bilingual Twitter followers for help, sending them an English document and its Google Docs translation and asking them what they thought. The results were hit or miss. English and French was passable, but English and Hebrew was “one big disaster.” He also tested Arabic, Spanish and probably several other languages. He summed up the results by saying, “Suffice it to say, I wouldn’t blindly trust any translation done by Google Docs. Obviously, the translations feature in Google Docs needs some work, and Google could start by making it at least as good as the translations done on the translate.google.com site.” Feel free to add your comments to the article 😉

When you assume… May 18, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Random musings.
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You all know the saying – and for those of you who don’t… “When you assume, you make an ass out of you and me.” I don’t know what is in the air today, but I have had two clients send me files for translation (needed back as soon as possible – of course) assuming I am available. One particular client in the Czech Republic sent me an e-mail at 2:30 in the morning (8:30 a.m. in Europe) and his colleague in China proceeded to send me the files to work on – and the files again because they had been updated and could I please use them. BTW, this was a client I fired last year… The second one just sent a PDF with the text they needed highlighted in a red box. Lots of single words (I think the context is chemistry but I’m not sure. And I don’t do chemistry.) in a QA form with no other context. And it isn’t even noon yet!

I am waiting on a large job that I was booked for two days ago, so I politely thanked both clients and told them that I was unfortunately booked and unavailable.

The grass is not necessarily greener on the other side… May 16, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Random musings.
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I did a really dumb thing last week – I switched Internet service providers. I have been unhappy with my Internet connection through Time-Warner Cable for a while now. It has never been very fast and recently it started kicking me offline 3 to 4 times a day. The connection would be glacial until I was booted offline. I would then have to reboot my cable modem and router. I called a service tech, who came out and told me I was losing the connection somewhere on the line, but he never actually fixed the problem and I never heard from TWC again.

I was ripe for the pickin’ when a U-Verse salesperson came door-to-door in early May. I decided to sign up for Internet and cable through U-Verse. I should have left well enough alone…

After two install no-shows and numerous phone calls to “customer service” in which they told me they could install it in a little over a week I tweeted my frustration and a rep from AT&T contacted me and scheduled an install two days later. The tech showed up on-time and things looked promising. I loved the U-Verse set-up and the DVR that allowed me to watch the shows in the living room or the bedroom. The tech had problems getting one computer online, but Susanne Aldridge III quickly helped me solve that problem. The only problem that remained was my inability to send e-mail from my e-mail program.

Then my landlady came home from work – and had no phone or Internet service. After calling the supervisor and Mike at HQ I had two techs back at the house to fix the problem. They had turned off her service when mine was installed because there was a mix-up with our addresses. When they left everything looked great.

And then everything went to hell. My landlady had her Internet turned off Friday night, and after calling AT&T Saturday morning and them confirming everything with me I woke again an hour later to find I had no cable or Internet – and neither did she. She was on the phone with them for 2 hours and I was on hold for an hour trying to figure this out. Turns out some yahoo turned off our services pending “address verification” and it would take 48-72 hours (business hours – so starting Monday) to get service turned back on. As you all know, we can’t work without Internet so I called Time-Warner Cable in tears begging them to take me back and had a tech out this afternoon (Monday) who reinstalled everything. In the meantime, AT&T also turned off my landlady’s phone service in addition to her DSL. It was a looooong weekend…

Everything is working on my end again, and I am shipping the U-Verse equipment back first thing in the morning. I have a new “drop” (the technical term for the line from the pole to the house), so my Internet connection appears to be faster. I don’t have a DVR, but I can watch cable in my bedroom through my old VCR. I’m not complaining, because TWC’s customer service is a million times better than AT&T’s. I’ll live with it.

My landlady went out and bought a pay-as-you-go cell phone, and I will be hooking her into my Internet tomorrow until AT&T fixes her service. She is considering telling them to go fly a kite too.

So the moral of this story is even though it may seem like it, the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side. At least my blood pressure is back down, and I am calmer again.

Update: My landlady now has her phone and Internet working, but it took a week!!! That is simply unacceptable in this day and age.

TGIF: TAHIT Public Service Announcement May 13, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in TGIF.
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Tess Whitty tweeted this link to a very moving video showing the importance of interpreters last week. The Texas Association of Healthcare Interpreters and Translators (TAHIT) produced this video to demonstrate how important healthcare interpreters are. It’s a TGIF video, but it most certainly isn’t categorized here under “Fun stuff” like most of my TGIF videos are. Still, it does a fantastic job showing to Americans who may not be sympathetic to the plight of immigrants just how important interpreters are by pulling at their heartstrings.

10 Technology Tips You Can Start Using Today – Michael Wahlster @ TCD May 12, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA, Tech tips, Tools.
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Although I enjoyed all of the presentations I attended at the TCD conference in DC, Michael Wahlster’s presentation on technology tips was my favorite. As Corinne has already mentioned, he used a new presentation technique called zooming presentation through Prezi. He basically had one file and zoomed in and out to the various points he was making. It was quite impressive. Anyway, despite being a huge tech geek even I walked away with quite a few things I want to look into.

* VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol)
He talked a lot about Skype. I already use Skype for video conference or working with colleagues to ask quick questions about particularly troublesome sentences in the Chat feature, but Skype offers so much more. Some Skype-enabled phones work like a cordless phone through a router. It also allows you to forward your calls to an overseas number or gives you worldwide dial-in phone numbers (so you can live in Kansas and have a phone number in Japan) and block phone spam. SkypeIn allows you to select your area code (almost anything, but if you want the cachet of the 212 Manhattan area code you’re out of luck). With Skype2Go you can call from your regular cell phone anywhere in the world, many countries for only 2.3 cents a minute.

Since the presentation, it was reported that Microsoft is going to purchase Skype for 8.5 billion dollars. This raises the question if Skype is going to survive in the long run as the largest telephony company in the world with all the advantages it has now. There is a tendency among big tech companies to buy niche companies, take their best technologies and let the rest die. But Skype, a Luxemburg-based company, has been there before when it was purchased by eBay. It was involved in a lawsuit with eBay and the auction house threatened to pull the plug on Skype. Skype survived. Perhaps very cautious optimism is called for.

Google Voice is also a good option, although it doesn’t offer as many benefits as Skype. One plus is that it allows you to flag a phone number as spam (great if you want to ignore calls from an ex or a particularly bothersome client who won’t take no for an answer). Once the number is flagged you no longer have to see when the person calls.

* DNS (domain name service)
If you have had problems connecting to the Internet it may be your ISP’s domain name service, so Michael suggested we look into OpenDNS. It is faster and more reliable than most ISP’s. It makes your network more secure and reliable. Using OpenDNS means you enter their IP address is in your router or your network setup – not the one assigned to you by your ISP. It offers Web content filtering, so it is good for parents who want to filter their children’s access to content. It’s not an Internet service – it’s a IP translation service.

* Encryption
Encryption allows you to protect your own data assets, protect e-mail attachments and most importantly protect client confidentiality. With encryption you can make all or part of your hard drive invisible. Michael stressed that laptops must be encrypted, because they can walk away so easily. “Storing data in the cloud without encryption is like storing your suitcase in a locker in the airport without turning the key.” Encryption ensures that your data is secure. He recommends Truecrypt, which offers on-the-fly encryption and “plausible deniability” (for the advanced paranoid, if you want to protect data even in cases where you may be forced to reveal your password).

* Passwords
Michael suggests we use a password manager to keep track of all the various passwords we create for various websites. Passwords should always be at least 12 characters (using capital and lowercase letters, symbols instead of letters, special characters, etc.). You should create a strong passphrase for the password manager that only you know. Michael’s example was the common Latin phrase Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres, which he shortened to Ge0d!p3 (using the number zero for the o and the ! for the i). Keepass is the tool he recommends. Keepass is a “free, open source, light-weight and easy-to-use password manager.” It stores all your passwords together and all you have to do is remember your one passphrase. He also urged us not to write down our passwords and not use personal information like birthdays, spouse or pet names, etc.

* Sharing + Collaboration
Most of us collaborate with each other and storing the files on the cloud can make life a lot simpler. Dropbox is the tool Michael (and I) recommend. Dropbox is a folder system that stores your data online (in “the cloud”). I use Dropbox to move files and folders between my desktop PC and my laptops. Michael suggested storing files such as your music and photos so you can use it at any computer. I export my TMs to Dropbox as a back-up beyond my data back-up system (more on that later). You can also use Dropbox to share files with colleagues and ensure everyone is using the latest version. If someone is using the file in the Dropbox folder the file is locked. The first 2 GB is free; anything over and above that you pay for. The nice thing about Dropbox is you can drag and drop files to the Dropbox folder. I also have Dropbox installed on my smartphone.

* Note Taking
You can use note taking software tools to save text, links, URLs, images, sounds, etc. No more Post-it notes littering your monitor screen or desk. Michael recommended Evernote (60 MB per month limit for the free version), but MS OneNote comes standard on most computers nowadays. The thing that intrigues me about Evernote is you can also sync it with your smartphone.

* Text Editors
Text editors go beyond the capacity of Notepad. They allow you to open plain text files and the formatting and tags are usually highlighted in another color (useful when you are handcoding or translating HTML files). Michael uses Notepad++. I like using UltraEdit.

* Uninterrupted Power Supply (not just battery back-up)
This is probably one of the most important tech tips you should know about. It is extremely important to have an uninterrupted power supply in case the power goes out, because a UPS allows you to back up the files you are working on and close the computer down in the event of a power outage. Battery back-ups take a split-second to switch over, which is usually not long enough for a computer. This avoids loss of the files you are working on. Michael suggested you buy as large a UPS as possible. I just bought replacement batteries for my UPSes the week before the conference. They are important!

* Data Backup
It is important to back up your data both to an external hard drive and to “the cloud” (aka the Internet). Backing up your data off-site is important in case there is a robbery (they will most likely steal your hard drive as well), fire, flood or other natural disaster. The two most trusted back-up systems are Carbonite and Mozy. You should remember to back up your files for your clients and don’t forget critical files like your TMs or other work products. I wrote a detailed post here about the importance of data backup back in January.

* Infections
Every translator should have an anti-virus program and malware/spyware removal programs running on their computer. I use a combination of AdAware and Spybot Search & Destroy. If your computer is running slowly the first thing you should do is run some malware/spyware removal programs on it. I also really like CCleaner to make my computer run faster and more efficiently. Michael talked about ComboFix, but urged us to be very careful when using it because it finds amazing things but erases everything suspicious (his quote was RTFM!).

Duden Online May 6, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Tools, Translation Sites.
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German translators, rejoice! Since early May Duden has put its Duden Rechtschreibung and Deutsches Universalwörterbuch online for us to use – free of charge at www.duden.de. If you want to look up a word, check its correct spelling, or learn more about its meaning or etymology the Duden is the reference work of choice. It is one of Germany’s most respected line of grammar books. The Duden was first published by Konrad Duden in 1880. The Duden is updated regularly, with new editions appearing every four or five years. It is currently in its 25th edition and published in 12 volumes, covering different aspects of grammar like spelling, foreign words, pronunciation, synonyms, quotes and idioms (those are just the volumes I own).

TGIF: Ducati and Xerox May 5, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff, TGIF.
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This video was shared on the GLD list the other day. It makes fun of the ridiculous demands we translators sometimes hear. Ducati focuses on the bikes, while Xerox focuses on the technical communications – and that’s the way it should be.

King of the hermits May 3, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff.
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One of the cartoons I regularly subscribe to is Adam@Home (the link is listed in the column to the right). It features Adam, who works from home and is addicted to coffee like many of us. Today’s cartoon made me chuckle, and I have a feeling it will make my self-employed compatriots chuckle too. If for some reason you can’t read it you can view it here.