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Transferring money with Wise (formerly Transferwise) March 18, 2022

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Tech tips.

There is a great alternative out there for translators and agencies to pay each other in foreign currencies without huge bank transaction fees – and no need for Paypal! I recently had almost $100 in fees deducted when one of my agencies switched to Paypal. I fired them. They had paid me up until then by check and it didn’t cost either of us anything. I’m sorry, but agencies who pay by Paypal are pushing the fees onto us – and we are the ones who are making the least amount of money in the transaction between them and their clients. Most agencies charge their clients double (if not triple) the “best rate” that they pay us, and we are performing the actual tangible work. The least they can do is pay any fees. Any money transfers aren’t that much better. Any time money moves into another currency, it’s still a maze of hidden exchange rate markups, high fees, delays, and small print. Well, with Wise, foreign payments are easy and affordable. Note: I do not work for Wise, nor am I being paid anything for this post. I just really like the service.

TransferWise was established years ago when Taavet and the Wise team set out to fix the inherent problems of international money transfers for all of us who’d been overcharged and underserved by banks. They chose the name ‘TransferWise’ because they knew their early customers were ‘wise’ to know their banks were charging hidden fees in exchange rate markups. Their business idea was to make money work without borders — to make money move instantly, transparently, conveniently, and — eventually — for free. They did this by establishing bank accounts in many different countries and utilizing them to move money for the customers in those countries.

In other words, I transfer money between Germany and the U.S. by setting up a transfer on the website. They calculate what I will be receiving, while stating what fees are involved. It is up to me to then accept or decline the transaction. They also use a very decent exchange rate. I compared the costs with several different transfer sites and Wise always gave me the most bang for my buck (or euro). I then transfer the money from my German bank account to Wise’s bank account in Frankfurt and have the money in my U.S. account on the date they quote in the offer.

It took a little bit of effort to sign up and get verified, but setting up a foreign bank account is almost impossible these days so this is a welcome option. I signed up using an email account, but you can also sign up with your Facebook or Google accounts. I prefer to keep my business out of the monoliths’ reaches, so I prefer using email. I had to prove I was who I was, which took a couple of days, and had to verify a couple small deposits in my bank account, but once the account was set up it runs smoothly every time.

Receive payments like a local in 10 currencies.

Get your own UK account number, Euro IBAN, US routing number, and more.

Convert and hold 54 currencies.

Holding multiple currencies is completely free

Wise is improving every day. They developed an app so you can access your account from anywhere using your smartphone. Get instant notifications for transactions. Freeze and unfreeze your card with a click. If you misplace it, you can use a virtual card instantly.

They have recently launched multi-currency accounts and an associated debit card that can be used in any currency. I first talked about their debit card during my ‘Contingency Planning and Crisis Management 101’ presentation at ATA58. They’ve improved on it since then. These new offerings could easily replace international banking for many of us. You can use the account as a normal bank account when you bill your clients. They pay you in their currency and you can withdraw it in your currency. Order a contactless debit card, and connect to Apple Pay or Google Pay right away. Or pay securely with your Wise digital card online. They are regulated in each country. For example, Wise US Inc. is registered with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and renews its registration annually. It is licensed as a money transmitter in the states listed here, and supervised by regulatory authorities in each of those states.

By building this infrastructure, they have created a platform that more than a dozen banks use today. Wise bills itself as “a community of 10 million like-minded people and businesses managing money all over the world, saving billions and fighting as hard as ever against hidden fees.”

I have been a happy customer of Wise/TransferWise since 2017. What are you waiting for?


Contingency planning for translators interview January 23, 2018

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Random musings, Tech tips.
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Tess Whitty, Swedish translator and marketing guru, interviewed me recently for her Marketing Tips for Translators podcast. I demonstrate why I am not an interpreter at around minute 17 when I completely blank on the word for accordion. I hope you enjoy it.

As Tess explains on her website:

Many clients depend upon us freelance translators, and it is important to have a plan for worst case scenarios. This year has also been a year of many natural disasters and unfortunately colleagues passing away too soon. I was very happy to see that today’s guest held a presentation on contingency and crisis planning during the last ATA conference. In this episode she is sharing all her best tips.

Important things covered in this episode:

  • What contingency planning and crisis management is

  • Questions to ask ourselves to plan for unforeseen events

  • Things to have in place if we would get sick or pass away

  • How to deal with a crisis

  • How to protect our business

Good deal on ABBYY FineReader12 November 28, 2016

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

ABBYY is offering its latest version of FineReader 12 for $99/65 EUR instead of $169.99/130 EUR. The offer is valid until December 4, 2016.

You can order it here:


To buy in euros:
<https://store.abbyyeu.com/c/shop/ml=DE/curr=EUR/?cntr=DE&ID=FR12PEE&PROMO=CYBERWEEK2016MAIL&APX=BFCWMAIL16DE&clps=1&utm_source=NL_CYBERWEEK_NOV16_DE&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=BLACKFRIDAY2016> (this is the link for German, but you can find it in your language by going to the ABBYY site, “Selecting your Region” in the upper-right corner and clicking on Individuals and then FineReader 12).

Change your Skype password November 10, 2016

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Tech tips.

I flew home from the ATA Conference on Monday and landed at 11:20 PM. Once I arrived at home I unpacked, put my suitcases away, showered and face-planted into bed. I woke up the next morning to 16 messages on Skype and a missed call in Skype and on my cell phone. I had been hacked, and all of my contacts were sent a link to a “baidu.com.” Luckily most of my contacts are savvy enough not to click on a link from me without any introductory text (hence the 16 messages asking if it was legit from me), but I had to go to https://web.skype.com to manually delete the message for every contact. Needless to say it was a pain.

My friend and colleague Roland Grefer was the one who had been trying to call me. In addition to being a great translator he is also a very competent IT support guy. He did a little research and discovered the following:

From what I’ve found, about a month ago, Microsoft started to merge their Live/Hotmail/Outlook/MSN/Xbox account systems into a new “Universality” account management system.

However, in the process, even if your Skype account was already linked to one of the above email accounts, they left Skype also accessible via the old Skype user name and password combination.

If the password for either account was one that was compromised in any of the recent hacks, the Bad Guys (TM) were then able to use the respective account to gain access to Skype and send spam etc. from the affected user’s Skype account.

But since M$ hadn’t made users aware of the parallel existence of the “new” and “old” Skype user name and password combos, they weren’t even aware of this “feature” as the culprit.

Once they logged into their account, and checked their “Activity” at


virtually all of them found successful logins from Asia or South America around the time the incident happened.

A sad state of affairs,

So change your Skype password or you too will be spamming your Skype contacts. And thanks to Roland for researching this!

Dropbox vs. Spideroak July 19, 2014

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Tech tips.

I share this with no commentary whatsoever, but it’s worth noting. I don’t ever keep client files on Dropbox or on a cloud-based server, but I know some people do. Whether you believe Snowden is full of crap or knows what he is talking about, it is still worth some consideration.

A remarkable moment from last night’s remarkable Snowden video from the Guardian.

In a discussion (around the 7:40 mark) of zero-knowledge systems whose operators can’t spy on you even if they want to, Snowden reminds us that Dropbox is an NSA surveillance target cited in the original Prism leaks, and that the company has since added Condoleeza Rice, “probably the most anti-privacy official we can imagine,” to its Board of Directors.

He contrasts Dropbox with its competitor, Spideroak, whose system is structured so that it can’t betray you, even if Condi Rice wanted it to.

Online licensing woes March 8, 2014

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

Oh, woe is me. I have once again had a fatal error on my hard drive and lost a SDL Trados license. The first time my hard drive died and I couldn’t return the license, but Paul Filkin, SDL’s awesome online go-to guru, was able to free up another license for me.

This time I kept getting a Blue Screen of Death within a minute of booting up. My computer tech had the computer for two weeks and was unable to replicate the error in their office, so I was able to return the license. A month later during the Windows Upgrade the problem returned. I tried to return the license in Safe Mode with Networking (by trying to return the license and then deactivating it offline), but their system wanted nothing to do with that. I tweeted the SDL folks, but did not receive a response. I didn’t want to bother Paul again. I figure once is ok, but twice is pushing it.

At the moment I am reformatting the computer and hoping the problem does not happen again. In the meantime I have Studio 2011 and Trados 2009 on my laptop and will migrate on the desktop to MemoQ, which does not rely on online licensing and can process Studio files. I may or may not upgrade to Studio 2014. What are your opinions of the new version of Studio? Is it worth upgrading? Inquiring minds want to know.

Updating the Langenscheidt eWörterbuch software October 2, 2013

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Tech tips, Tools.
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I am once again reinstalling my programs on a fresh OS. I started getting a Blue Screen of Death every few minutes and the computer would reboot. After the PC was in the repair shop twice the techs finally think it may have gotten a corrupted driver when the latest round of patches were installed. The only solution if I wanted the computer back after the two weeks it was there the last time was a fresh reinstall of the operating system. Many e-dictionaries are no longer compatible with Windows 7, so here is a link on the Langenscheidt website to updates & patches: http://www.langenscheidt.de/Service/Support/Updates_und_Patches. Simply download the eWörterbücher software, uninstall any existing installation and install the software. After it has been installed open the program using the Start menu and place your CD-ROM into your optical drive (be sure to not choose the automatic installation). Select >>> Datei >>> Bücher hinzufügen and select your CD-ROM drive. The dictionary files will then be added to the software. This means you don’t have to throw out all of your e-dictionaries! I own quite a few Langenscheidt e-dictionaries and have only been able to install my Acolada Unilex dictionaries up to now.

I lost all my e-mails (but luckily no data – thank goodness for Carbonite!), but that’s a story for another day. Let’s just say I am now relying on a new e-mail client and IMAP, which allows me to leave e-mails on the server.

Success! Dictionaries and glossaries happily co-mingling in UniLex… November 9, 2012

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

I was able to install Der Große Eichborn, my Collins Unabridged German Dictionary, and a pharmaceutical/medical glossary with 1006 entries that I have had for a while. All three of them are happily co-mingling. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to upgrade/purchase a couple of dictionaries at the UniLex website because my versions of Ernst, Kucera and Brinkmann/Blaha were all produced before 2000 and are not compatible with Windows 7.

#ata53: Managing, Importing, and Exporting Bilingual Glossaries with UniLex November 8, 2012

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

I checked into the Hilton Bayside in San Diego on the Tuesday before the annual ATA conference to attend the above-named preconference seminar by Fabio Said (@fidusinterpres) on Wednesday morning. I like attending preconference seminars, because they allow you to really delve into the material in three hour increments. The conference sessions are usually around one hour and don’t allow that much detail. The preconference seminars went up in price this year, so I only attended one. That said, I was glad I chose Fabio’s presentation, because I can see how it will really benefit me in everyday practice.

To quote the abstract, “This hands-on seminar [showed us] how to use UniLex, a professional (and free) terminology management tool, to keep all your existing and future bilingual glossaries in a single application.” I was probably one of the only people in the room who had actually worked with the tool; however, I had never known that it could be use to manage my own glossaries. Having trained under terminologist extraordinaire Sue Ellen Wright at Kent State, after graduation I worked as a terminologist for six months at a translation agency in Germany and then off and on for them as needed for another six months. I am quite familiar with the process of creating glossaries for clients and for your own use.

Acolada’s UniLex is a German tool that allows you to look up terms and translations in a number of dictionaries within seconds. I have been using the professional version for years when I purchased German-English dictionaries such as the Collins/PONS German-English dictionary, Wahrig Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache, Brinkmann/Blaha: Data Systems and Communications Dictionary, Ernst: Dictionary of Engineering and Technology, Dietl/Lorenz: Dictionary of Legal, Commercial and Political Terms, Kucera: Dictionary of Chemistry, der Große Eichborn, and several specialized Langenscheidt dictionaries, which are all available on UniLex Pro. It is a stand-alone tool, which does not allow you to copy a term in Word and look it up in the interface, but this makes it an ideal tool to manage your own glossaries as well. Both tools are free, but Fabio stressed several times that we should download and use the regular version, because the regular version allows you to edit the data.

Fabio discussed what the tool can and cannot do. Like I said, it does not integrate with Word or CAT tools. However, if you are a word geek you can really customize it to meet your needs, with spaces for part of speech, context and other details. You can import existing glossaries, add new entries to existing glossaries, and export the data into nice-looking RTF Word files. Not bad for a free tool…

I wrote about using electronic dictionaries back in 2008 and am using the screenshot of the UniLex interface from that post. Since I haven’t had a chance to install it on my new Windows 7 system it may or may not look a little different than in the screenshot below, which was taken from an XP system.

He then walked us through how to create a dictionary in UniLex and import a bilingual glossary (as an Excel file). One thing to remember is that “Key” is the source term and “Equivalents” is/are the target term(s). He also shared a sample Excel table to use for the process, which was organized in 8 columns. The Excel table should then be copied into Notepad or another text editor to ensure no hidden formatting is copied with the data into UniLex. The text file should then be saved using ANSI encoding to ensure any special characters are maintained; however, some systems may do better with UTF-8 encoding. You should test your system before importing large glossaries and editing existing dictionaries. The last step is to close UniLex and reopen it to view the contents of your dictionary.

I have downloaded the tool, but haven’t gotten around to playing with it on my own yet. I’ve been pretty busy dealing with the insurance company, running errands, and following up with the people I met at the conference. Oh yes, and translating. Can’t forget the day (and night) job. I do, however, look forward to playing with it once my life calms down (maybe after the holidays?). In summary, I am very happy I attended Fabio’s preconference seminar and look forward to becoming an amateur terminologist again. I’m curious to see if my old dictionaries and the glossaries I create from my Excel glossaries will be able to happily and smoothly co-exist.

Dealing with adversity November 3, 2012

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Tech tips.
Tags: , , ,

We may not all have to deal with adversity such as those in New York and New Jersey are dealing with at the moment – or the folks in New Orleans and the Gulf coast back in 2005. However, at some point we all deal with the power going out or our Internet going down. It goes without saying that you should at minimum have an emergency radio that is solar powered and has a hand crank to keep you informed about the storm. However, there are quite a few other steps you can take to be as prepared as possible.

If your Internet goes down due to a technical glitch or problem with your Internet service provider, consider trekking to the local coffee shop or McDonald’s to use their WiFi. The Internet always seems to go down when you have a major deadline. This happened to me once when I had a major looming deadline, so I drove to the Panera around the corner and delivered my files from the comfort of my car. I was in my pajamas, so going in wasn’t an option. I am comforted to know that the McDonald’s three miles away from my home that is open 24 hours. Who knows when that may come in handy. If power is out all around you, consider driving to a friend’s home who might have power. I relocated to my parents’ house during the Northeast Blackout of 2003. Driving was tricky and slow with no street lights, but I managed to make it there safely.

If it’s likely that you’ll lose power during a major storm, you should always charge all of your devices ahead of time. Most importantly, when power does go out, unplug your devices to prevent them from being damaged when power is restored with a jolt. Also, if you’ve got a generator, it’s best not to run electronics like phones, laptops, and tablets off of it.

Once power is gone, it stays gone. A good backup battery is great to have on hand to allow you to safely power down your computer. I have used this feature several times now during minor power outages. The Energizer Powerpacks website offers a ton of options such as battery backups, external batteries, and a solar charger. I also own a Energizer Energi To Go battery charger for my phone that I used during the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3-Day walk. I keep it in the drawer next to my desk in a Ziplock bag with fresh batteries. I bring it with me on trips just in case I need it. In fact, it was with me in San Diego. I am also seriously considering buying a solar charger I saw in the Skymall magazine on my flight to San Diego. It will conceivably allow you to recharge electronics such as cell phones or tablets by harnessing the power of the sun.

You can extend your phone’s battery life by disabling certain features, like WiFi and Bluetooth. It takes a lot of power to constantly search for a WiFi or Bluetooth signal. Also, dim the screen brightness and avoid playing audio at a high volume. If your phone is set to check email automatically at regular intervals, turn that off too. All of those processes drain battery life.

You should all already have a backup system for your computer. If you don’t, you need to start thinking about it now. Rather than rehash the subject again, I will simply refer you to my blog post from January 2011 called Backing up your stuff to the cloud. It’s nice to have a backup in your house, but inadequate if that’s all you’ve got. Remote backups with a service like Crashplan, Dolly Drive or Carbonite can be invaluable. I use Carbonite, and it has saved my skin twice now. Your most important criteria for choosing a service is to make sure that it is secure and reliable.

You should also store copies of important documents such as your family and your passport(s), birth certificate(s), car title(s), medical records, insurance inventories, bank records, etc. in the cloud somehow. This helps when you need to evacuate in a hurry as well as in the ensuing aftermath of recovery. The original documents should be stored in a big Ziplock plastic bag and the bag should be stored in a water-resistant and/or fire-resistant safe or emergency kit. I use Suze Orman’s Protection Portfolio. If something ever happens to me my sister knows that everything she needs is in this kit. A little preparation goes a long way to save you some headaches and protect your business.