By Jost Zetzsche © 2007 International Writers’ Group, compiled by Yves Avérous
The Tool Kit is an online newsletter that comes to its subscribers’ mailboxes twice a month. In Translorial, we offer a quarterly digest of Jost’s most helpful tips from the past season. If you would like to subscribe to The Tool Kit, visit www.internationalwriters.com/toolkit/  and mention Translorial during the subscription process; Jost will put your name in a drawing for one free Tool Box book per edition.
Seek and Ye Shall Find
I often receive queries from readers concerning all kinds of computer-related things. I don’t want to discourage you from sending these.
Often they’re very educational for me, and in many of those cases you will find the answers in this newsletter. Very often, however, they can be found easily by looking yourself, and I would really encourage you to use those resources before asking someone else.
The first place should always be the help system. You will usually have the best luck in getting the information you’re looking for by typing in some keywords related to your problem. As you would in Google, keep on trying different words or phrases until you find what you need.
The next step would be to go to the tool’s website and look for the FAQ and/or the knowledgebase and/or the support section — and I would do it in that order if they have all three.
If there is also a support section that requires you to send in a question, I recommend that you hold off and first try one of the next options.
If a specific error message accompanied your problem, make a brute-force Google query with the exact wording of the message in quotation marks. If it’s a question for which you don’t have such specific information, go to the user group of the product. And PLEASE look for an answer before you ask questions within the group. I would also encourage you to go to the “Files” section where you can find all kinds of manuals, utilities, and other interesting things that are specific to the group you’re looking at. Finally, to find a group for your particular tool, just go to groups.yahoo. com, type the name of your tool, and it should show up.
It’s also very cool to subscribe to these groups as RSS feeds. Rather than going out to these groups, you can have them “come to you” (see that ingenious little video: http://www.dotsub.com/films/inplainenglish/index.php ).
Free Tools with Wordfast
Wordfast offers a number of interesting and free programs that are only indirectly related to its core features as a TEnT (Translation Environment Tool).
You can download PlusTools, a collection of powerful Word macros, on Wordfast’s website (www.wordfast.com ) as a free download. It includes tools to simultaneously search and replace in a large number of Word documents at the same time, batch convert any number of documents, compare documents, crack passwords in Word-based documents, extract terminology, align documents, etc.
It also allows you to tag documents in a way similar to the description above for XML/HTML files. While the existing set of macros did not produce satisfactory results with my files in question, it is easy to modify existing ones or produce your own so that it would work.
TMs for Sale!
Full disclosure: I am one of the owners of TM Marketplace, but I’m still very excited to announce that we have launched a new program where we don’t just sell licenses to very large translation memories of the likes of GM, but we are now also selling translation memories that we have – legally — created from publicly available content. We are already offering Windows Vista TMs in various language pairs, but we are also offering a made-for-order model, where you can ask us for specific TMs for specific projects. After we verify that we can provide that kind of content, we will then create those databases and sell them to you. And we’ve even produced a little flash presentation that explains why (see www.tmmarketplace.com/align ).
For folks wondering how they can import the TMX files into the tool of their choice, I have also created a document with descriptions for the 16 most popular tools and uploaded it to www.tmmarketplace.com/downloads/importTMX.pdf . This should be a helpful document whether you purchase TMs at TM Marketplace or not.
After translating a website recently I noticed that my client’s web engineer really did not know how to enter codes for certain special characters (such as en-dashes and em-dashes), resulting in them all ending up corrupted on the site when I did a quality assurance check on it. It was helpful to have a well-written list of codes for often-occurring special characters at www.alistapart.com/stories/emen/  that I could point my client to.
If your new computer is clogged with a multitude of annoying preinstalled programs, you may want to try a program called PC Decrapifier (www.pcdecrapifier.com ) which uninstalls all that “crapware” on new machines. I haven’t tested it, but something with a name so profound can only be good.
Ever wonder how the mouse cursor moves? I always thought there was some highly complicated technology behind it, but no, it’s actually quite hands-on. See for yourself at www.1-click.jp . (You may need to wait awhile for the explanatory graphics to load, but you’ll understand when you, too, are able to move your cursor over the light gray circle. This will be your own personal initiation rite.)
Here is an interesting poll on how Vista is being accepted among translators: www.translationdirectory.com/polls/poll_022 .