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Fantastic new Internet research tool for Germans: Linguee.com May 5, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Tools, Translation Sites.

Marita Marcano just shared this great research tool on the GLD list this morning. I immediately bookmarked it prominently on my toolbar. Although only a beta at the moment, Linguee is a powerful online search tool that searches millions of bilingual texts in English and German for words and expressions. Every expression is accompanied by useful additional information and suitable example sentences. It is an online dictionary and a BBI dictionary of word combinations all-in-one. It is essentially a corpus search, which is what the professors at Kent have been talking about for several years now. Now, you should remember that any term found on the Internet needs verification, but with the wealth of examples from so many different locations it should be immediately obvious if one translation is hideously off.

As the Linguee site so capably explains:

When you translate texts to a foreign language, you usually look for common phrases rather than translations of single words. With its intelligent search and the significantly larger amount of stored text content, Linguee is the right tool for this task. You find:

  • In what context a translation is used
  • How frequent a particular translation is
  • Example sentences: How have other people translated an expression?

By searching not only for a single word, but for a respective word in its context, you can easily find a translation that fits optimal in context. With its large number of entries, Linguee often retrieves translations of rare terms that you don’t find anywhere else.

Linguee is used like a search engine. You search for a word or a phrase, and you find pairs of sentences that contain the word or the phrase as an exact or similar match. If the search is not successful, it usually pays off to simplify the search phrase and search again. The search result is clearly arranged in groups of expressions and ordered by frequency. By clicking on the “Examples +” button you are presented with more example sentences.

Favorite tools: Firefox March 12, 2009

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

Next to Trados and WinAlign, my favorite tool is without a doubt Firefox. I have Firefox running from the moment I wake up to the minute I go to sleep. Firefox is a free open source browser that offers a “faster, more secure, and fully customizable way to to surf the Web.” As you can see from my screenshot I have put a lot of time and effort into customizing my browser to make it work for me. My homepage is my iGoogle page, which I have talked about in detail on this blog several times. I have TwitterFox running in the bottom right-hand corner (I expanded it for the screenshot), and I can access it whenever I want to check out the Twitter tweets from the folks who I am following. I follow a variety of people, but they are primarily translators located all over the world who often offer really good information. I also have numerous tabs open at all times and toggle quickly between them as needed.


As far as organization is concerned, I now have two toolbars of my most frequently visited sites (thanks to a tip from one of my blog readers – thanks, Maxim!) such as my blog, online dictionaries, the Translator’s Home Companion portal, the Accurapid Translation Journal, Frank Dietz’ and Marita Marcano’s collection of glossaries, etc. as well as a very organized Bookmarks drop-down menu. I have the drop-down menu organized into folders and subfolders, which allow me to quickly and easily access subject-specific glossaries, dictionaries, traffic watches, Pandora Radio, Oanda (a really great currency exchange site), my bank accounts, my public library, conversion tools, etc. I have folders for blogs (from before I started using a feed reader – come to think of it I can probably delete the folder now…), client websites (for logging onto workspaces and managing translation jobs), colleague websites, translation aids (such as style guides, translation portals, payment practices sites, etc.), etc. One of my friends commented that they would love to get their hands on my Bookmarks, but this represents over 10 years of collecting and maintaining URLs. I consider it to be proprietary information just like my TMs are. ūüôā

Do you have any Firefox tips you would like to share with us? Tell us about them in the Comments!

Applications I can’t live without March 5, 2009

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

1. Trados

Translating with Trados (or any translation environment tool – TEnT) makes life a lot easier. It allows me to quickly look up terms (in MultiTerm or using the Concordance function) and easily align previous translations and feed my translation memory, which makes my life a lot easier in the long run. It also ensures that I don’t accidentally skip a sentence or a paragraph, because the tool treats every sentence as a separate translation unit. I have numerous TMs (translation memories) set up for the various fields I work in or for specific clients. This ensures there is no cross-contamination. However, I know several translators who simply work with one large TM and specify the fields in the project field. If you would like to learn more about the various TEnTs and take them for a test drive, be sure to check out Jost Zetzsche’s Translators Training site.

2. Microsoft Word

Although I also own WordPerfect, 99.9% of my translations are delivered as Word .doc files. I have become adept at tweaking formatting and playing with the ruler to set tabs and line up margins. Translators simply need to delve into the inner workings of Word in order to deliver the best possible translation to their client. Take it from me, clients notice when you deliver a translation that closely matches the formatting of the original. And a happy client means a return client.

3. Electronic dictionaries

I own a lot of dictionaries, but the ones I find myself using the most are electronic dictionaries. I have two electronic dictionary interfaces that I use — the Langenscheidt dictionary interface and UniLex. It is so much quicker and easier to highlight a word in Word or on the Web and use a keyboard shortcut to paste it into an electronic dictionary interface. For more information on the German-English electronic dictionaries I use (and to view screenshots of them), click on the Electronic dictionaries header. I also rely on online dictionaries such as Pons (they also have French, Spanish, Italian, Polish, and Russian dictionaries available), the Pons Bildw√∂rterbuch, Leo (also available in French, Spanish, Italian, and Chinese), dict.cc, LinguaDict, Grimms W√∂rterbuch, Wortschatz, Das digitale W√∂rterbuch der deutschen Sprache, and the EU’s multilingual terminology database IATE (formerly known as Eurodicautom).

skype4.  Skype

Skype has become an indispensable tool in my translator toolkit. I am connected to fellow translators and several of my project managers through Skype. If I have a sentence that is giving me trouble I simply copy and paste it into Skype’s chat window and discuss it with one of my colleagues. It also enables my project managers to instantly ask if I am available, receive an answer and assign the job to me. You can see the status of your contacts in the window and either call them (through headphones and/or video) or open a chat window. It also allows me to keep in touch with friends in Germany and my cousin in China.

5. ABBYY FineReader

Since I specialize in medical I receive a lot of my medical texts in PDF format. ABBYY FineReader allows me to scan the file and convert it into a format that can be read in Word using optical character recognition (OCR). This allows me to quickly translate medical invoices and the like using my medical TM. ABBYY is the clear favorite among translators (although PDF Transformer is a close second), because it creates fewer text boxes than other OCR programs. I also really like the spellcheck feature, which ensures the document I am working on doesn’t have any spelling errors that would corrupt my TM. Sometimes ABBYY has problems reading handwriting or working with fuzzy originals, and sometimes its formatting leaves a lot to be desired. In this case, I simply copy the text, paste it into a fresh Word document and format it by hand. For more information and to view screenshot, click here.

6. iGoogle

iGoogle is a personalized Google page. You can customize this 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. iGoogle allows me to keep up with the top headlines in numerous German, UK and U.S. newspapers, my Google feed reader, numerous miscellaneous websites, and my Gmail and Yahoo e-mail accounts all in one location. I have written about iGoogle before, but it deserves mention here again.

7. Firefox

I love Firefox. It allows me to easily manage my Bookmarks and gives me a very customizable toolbar for the sites I use most (like TinyURL, my Blog, a medical abbreviations site, the PONS dictionary, ReferenceDesk, the Roche medical dictionary, a button to add any product to my Amazon Wish List, etc.). I also love the Google toolbar, so I can quickly search Google without actually having to visit the Google homepage. I also think it loads faster than Internet Explorer or the old Netscape browser (R.I.P.). Firefox also seems to be less vulnerable to security breaches. If only I could figure out how to add a second toolbar for even more favorite sites…

8. PractiCount

PractiCount is my word count tool of choice. As many of you probably already know, Word does not count text in text boxes, headers, etc. and Trados does not count numbers as words. PractiCount allows me to count a variety of file types, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and HTML and XML files and adjust the settings as needed. It also allows you to count multiple files at once. In the old days we used to have to open each file, do a word count and add it up by hand (and double and triple check the total). PractiCount does this for us. If you like, you can also create an invoice directly in PractiCount based on the word or line counts (whichever you specify in the settings). For more information on word counts, read Word Count Issues – Part I and Word Count Issues – Part II.

9. Microsoft Money

Whether you use Quicken, Microsoft Money or another accounting tool, you need to use an accounting tool to keep track of income and expenses. I like Money’s feature of listing overdue invoices and how many days they are overdue. MS Money also makes tax time a breeze, because I input my business income and expenses throughout the year and can easily generate a report for my CPA at tax time.

10. Time Stamp

I charge by the hour for proofreading. Time Stamp is a great little donationware tool that allows me to track the time I spend proofreading a text, and I can pause it when I take a break and easily start it again when I get back to work. And I can save the report in my archived zip file in case the client ever questions my invoice.timestamp

11. WordPress

It takes a special kind of person to be a blogger. You have to want to share your knowledge with others. Not everyone is willing to do that. I love blogging because it allows me to share my inane thoughts and all the tidbits I learned throughout the years with others – or even thoughts that are inspired by something I read. I used to send random thoughts and websites to the ATA GLD list, but my blog allows me to reach a wider audience. It is also a great marketing tool. Corinne from Thoughts on Translation advised me to use WordPress, and I have never regretted it. It is, by far, the most powerful blogging tool on the web today.

twitterfox12. Twitter (and specifically TwitterFox)

I am still learning how to use Twitter, but it became much more enjoyable once I installed TwitterFox, a Firefox add-on that feeds in Tweets in real time from my browser. Since I have Firefox open just about all the time, it allows me to quickly catch up with my tweets and interact better with the people I am following. Any Twitter feed tool, such as TweetDeck, TweetLater or Tweetie (for iPhones and the iPod touch), will suffice. TweetDeck appears to be the odds-on favorite at the moment. I also feed my latest Twitter Tweet into my blog. For more information on Twitter tools and choosing the right tools for your needs, be sure to read The Twitter Toolbox.

13. Norton Ghost

Everyone should have a backup system. My backup system of choice is Norton Ghost. It runs scheduled backups of my most important files (My Documents, my TMs, my e-mail program, etc.) every night and backs up my entire system once a week onto an external hard drive.

14. Pandora Radio

Pandora allows me to stream music based on my interests in the background while I work. Depending on my mood, I can choose stations based on my favorite singers, such as Eva Cassidy (smooth folk music) or Michael Buble (swing music), or groups such as Ah Nee Mah, which features sounds of the Native Southwest within the context of mellow ambient atmospheres, or Evanescence, which is a bit more rocking. I’ve written about Pandora Radio here twice — in Music in the workplace and Pandora Radio itself.

15. Facebook

Facebook is a favorite for purely private use. It allows me to keep in touch with friends and reconnect with long-lost friends. I have been enjoying posting photos from my Academic Year Abroad year in Salzburg for my AYA friends and have made friends with the widow of a friend that year. That said, I am very picky about who I accept as friends, as I don’t want clients to have access to old photos of me or status updates (not that there is really anything incriminating out there). Facebook is a fairly open environment, so you never know when one of your friends might publish compromising information about you or make a comment that might embarrass you. Better to be safe than sorry. If I ignore your friend request please don’t take it personally.

What are your essential applications? Do you have a few applications that you couldn’t live without? Share your favorites with us in the comments.

Living without technology February 17, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Random musings, Tools, Uncategorized.

While sitting in the Relaxation Room at Massage Envy yesterday, I had time to relax and flip through a magazine. The January 2009 issue of Cleveland Magazine looked interesting, and an article called The Big Disconnect caught my eye. The author, Andy Netzel, explained how he decided to give up every piece of technology not in common use before his birthday in 1980 – that meant no “cell phone, cable television, mp3 player, satellite radio, computer, e-mail, Internet, call waiting, caller ID, ATM and debit card, air conditioning in my car, remote controls of any type ‚ÄĒ even Post-it notes.”

It was an interesting article, but I certainly don’t think I could do it. His description of writing a 5,500 word article on a typewriter made me shudder. I can’t even imagine having to retype the copy on a manual typewriter after proofreading and editing (three times!) – let alone his description of trying to track down a typewriter ribbon.

And don’t even get me started on how much I/we rely on the Internet, e-mail and cell phones for our clients to contact us. My clients know to call my cell if I don’t respond quickly to their e-mailed job inquiries.

The article really made me appreciate our technological advances and glad that I began my translation career just as Windows 3.11 and Windows 95 hit the scene. Those of you who were translators before then have my utmost respect!

What to do when you accidentally delete files January 11, 2009

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

One of my friends called me Saturday night at 11:30 PM in a panic because she had deleted 6 hours of work from her jump drive (thinking she was deleting superfluous files off her laptop). She knew I’d be up and needed someone to talk to because her boyfriend was already asleep. Having been in her position myself I was able to sympathize, but I was under the impression that once files are deleted off a jump drive they are gone. Not true! She called me back about twenty minutes later to inform me she had found a great little program that recovered her deleted files within seconds. The program she used was Undeletemyfiles.

As the software advertises:

“UndeleteMyFiles is a quick and easy way to find and recover deleted media and digital devices. It employs a simplified two-step process that enables you recover any files that used to reside on your system. The interface is very easy to use, just select the device that contains the files that need to be recovered and specify the folder to save the files to.”

What program do you swear by to recover deleted files?

Has anyone heard of Xelerity? December 19, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Tools.

I just received the following interesting e-mail and was wondering if anyone knew anything about it. I’ve been looking for a tool to share availability with my clients, but this almost sounds too good to be true.


There is a new tool on the Internet which allows freelancers to share their availabilities (in terms of dates/volume) with all their know [sic] clients. To access this platform, just go to:


It’s only 2 or 3 euros for six months (payment with a telephone call or credit card).

For the translation buyers, it’s a free service: they can connect to their freelancers ‘agendas, invite others into the system, all this in a known-known basis.

Although not perfect, this is a useful and central tool for the translation community.

Please transfer this message! We will do our best to improve the system in the upcoming months!

Merry Christmas to all of you and your families.

Is my drool embarrassing you? December 2, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Random musings, Tools.

I have a new desk chair to covet. My Aeron is no longer good enough. Herman Miller has launched its new Embody Chair. An array of knobs and levers let you tailor the chair to your body, and an improved tilt mechanism combats neck, hip, and lumbar strain. I can only imagine sitting in this chair is like sitting in a cloud. I just can’t believe anyone would be willing to pay $1,600 for a desk chair. It’s important to invest in a good desk chair, but $1,600 is a bit too pricey for my wallet.

Support Wikipedia November 26, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Random musings, Tools.
1 comment so far

I donated to the Wikimedia Foundation, which operates Wikipedia, today. I found out about their annual campaign while researching the site for some highly specific military jargon. Of course Wikipedia had the answers. A donation to Wikipedia’s annual campaign will help the Wikimedia Foundation sustain Wikipedia and deliver new and innovative global programs to improve its quality, reach, and levels of participation.

If you use Wikipedia as a resource (I have used both the German and English versions and expect you have too), I encourage you to donate to their annual campaign. Folks have donated anything from one dollar up to an anonymous gift of $250,000. Wikimedia is funded primarily through donations by tens of thousands of individuals, but also through several grants and gifts of servers and hosting. The Wikimedia Foundation receives donations from more than 50 countries around the world. Though individual donations are relatively small, the sheer numbers ensure their success.

As Wikipedia explains:

The job of the Wikimedia Foundation is to provide easy access to information, for people all over the world – free of charge, and free of advertising. As a non-profit, it is dependent on your help to do that. Your donations directly support some of the most popular collaboratively-edited reference projects in the world, including Wikipedia, one of the world’s top ten most popular websites and the largest encyclopedia ever compiled in human history. We are hoping to raise $6 million through our annual campaign.

So help keep Wikipedia and the Foundation’s other projects online, free of charge and free of advertising by digging into your pockets and giving a little back to a very valuable resource. Sure, sometimes their articles contain questionable or biased information (since everyone can contribute articles or information, that isn’t all that surprising), but most of their information is worth its weight in gold. Oh, and don’t bother looking for me in the Benefactors page. I donated anonymously.

Transit NXT was released yesterday November 21, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Tools.

One of the busier listservs I belong to is discussing the new version of Transit, Transit NXT, which was released this week. I got a chance to see a demo of it at the ATA conference and was quite impressed with it. I like Transit because it strips all the formatting from the actual translation, and you as the translator don’t have to deal with it.

The Transit tool offers a lot of configurable options, so that is why they don’t advertise the price anywhere. This allows you to pick and choose the features you need and disregard those you don’t (like the project management tool, which isn’t useful for a freelance translator who works with only one or two language pairs).

One thing I haven’t liked with previous versions of Transit is that the windows tended to overlay on top of one another and weren’t all visible. They seem to have fixed this problem with “Bubble windows,” which are dynamic windows that appear when you need them and disappear when you don’t. The fuzzy window disappears when you don’t need it and other information, such as similarity to the source text, segment status, words that appear in the dictionary, etc., is also visible at a glance. No one outside Star Group has had a chance to really become familiar with it yet, so we need to allow a week or two for translators to become familiar with it and then the real info will start trickling out.

The consensus among my fellow translators is that people are getting increasingly frustrated with SDL Trados’ support (or lack thereof) and its rigid thinking. The biggest complaint I hear is that support isn’t responsive to translators’ questions. Most questions are more effectively answered in translator forums such as tw_users. The second biggest is that they are too focused on the agencies and not enough on the needs of the translator.

I’d love to hear what you guys think of Star Transit and Trados. Fire away!

Sharing PowerPoint presentations on LinkedIn November 12, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Marketing ideas, Tools.
1 comment so far

One of my goals from the ATA conference is to learn more about social networking tools. Corinne McKay’s post this morning, New and Noteworthy, about a sundry of topics, including feeding your WordPress blog to your LinkedIn profile, was a revelation and sparked a flurry of investigative work on my part. Luckily I only have about 800 words to translate today. So I’ve now finally updated my web site this morning (another one of my goals) in addition to playing around in LinkedIn, which I have woefully neglected for a while now.

Feeding the WordPress blog to your LinkedIn profile based on freelance journalist Michelle Rafter’s instructions was a breeze, but I also discovered you can upload PowerPoint presentations as well. All you have to do is click on Applications, choose either Google Presentation or SlideShare Presentations, and upload your PowerPoint presentations (be sure to fill out a brief explanation and choose some tags). I chose SlideShare Presentations, but Google Presentation looks like it would work similarly.

I have had my PowerPoint presentations on my web site for years, but this is a great way to bundle all your PowerPoint presentations in one spot and free up some web space on your domain. Plus they were pretty hidden on the site. I now have four of my PowerPoint presentations online, and they have already had some hits. It’s a great way to show potential clients and fellow translators what you can do.

LinkedIn also has some other cool applications like Huddle, which gives you private, secure online workspaces packed with simple yet powerful project, collaboration and sharing tools for working with your connections. I could see this being very valuable when working together with other translators on large translation projects.