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

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA, Tech tips, Tools.

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



1. Karinade - May 24, 2011

Excellent post! very useful.

2. Troikaa Translation Services - May 25, 2011

You have mention all important points although, but i prefer to switch of everything if am going out for a leisure. One has to enjoy life as well and stop working at least when you are going out. Specially with your family.

3. Jenni - May 28, 2011

A long-time RSS reader, a first-time commenter and a fellow translator here. 🙂

This post inspired me to write a post of my own where I discuss some of these 10 points. My post is published on May 31. It will be in Finnish, but (naturally!) links back here.

Thanks for the informative blog. Keep up the good writing!

4. Adriana Pio Borges - May 28, 2011

Thank you SO much!
I just wish I had learned those tips earlier…
You’ve just made my life a lot easier – although I already had the hardware I realized I didn’t know how to actually use all those things I already have at hand…!

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