The Translorial Tool Kit

By Jost Zetzsche © 2005 International Writers’ Group, compiled by Yves Avérous

The Tool Kit is an online newsletter that comes to its subscribers’ mailboxes bimonthly. In Translorial, we are offering you a quarterly digest of Jost’s most helpful tips of the past season. If you would like to subscribe to The Tool Kit, visit www.internationalwriters.com/toolkit/ and mention Translorial during subscription; Jost will put your name in a drawing for one free Tool Box book per edition.

Word Views

If you’re editing in MS Word, one way to alleviate the boredom of this task is to change the way that Word displays the document.

A much-touted newbie in Microsoft 2003 was the Reading Layout, and though I’m not a complete devotee of this feature, it does help me every once in a while when I need a “new view on things.” To activate it, you can either click on the book icon in the lower left-hand corner of the Word screen, or you can select Reading Layout from the View menu. The standard toolbars will disappear and your text will appear on quasi-book pages with larger text, shorter lines, and pages that fit on the screen. Also, Microsoft’s ClearType technology produces letter shapes that are less strenuous to read.

Outlook’s Spam Filter

Microsoft has once again released new spam filters for its email program Outlook 2003 (see http://office.microsoft.com/officeupdate), the hands-down most-improved program within the Office 2003 suite. This release is far stricter than its predecessors, and many of your responses to the last newsletter and many new subscriptions actually landed in my spam folder. However, I found that this new filter does an acceptable job after I changed my setting to Low under Actions> Junk E-Mail> Junk E-Mail Options. Unfortunately, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, and other languages’ spam mail still makes it through.

Staying in Touch the Cool Way

I wrote about Instant Messenger programs as powerful ways to communicate with members in a workgroup, especially if it’s a virtual workgroup as is the case for most translators. I still use my Miranda Instant Messenger program (see http://www.miranda-im.org/) most days because it allows me to connect to users on several of the large instant messaging protocols (ICQ, AOL, MSN, Yahoo, etc.) at the same time.

The one protocol that’s not covered by Miranda is Skype (http://www.skype.com/), and this isn’t too surprising because Skype is something completely different. While Skype also offers text messaging comparable to any of the other providers, it is primarily a VoIP (Voice-over-Internet-Protocol) service that allows you to make completely free calls from computer to computer if the person you are calling also has Skype installed. Even if the other person doesn’t have Skype, you can still make ridiculously cheap calls when the recipient uses a normal telephone (yesterday I talked to my Skype-less brother in Hamburg, Germany, for half an hour for less than fifty cents).

TRADOS Power Tips

Finnish translator and TRADOS guru Tuomas Kostiainen has put together a few helpful tips for TRADOS users at www.trados.com/news/7tips.htm. I especially like the first one where he advises using one rather than many different translation memories—my “Big Mama” database and could not agree more.

Here is another TRADOS tip that I rather painfully stumbled on the other day.

When translating HTML files in TagEditor, the user is not able to control the resulting code page of the final translation. If the original files are in a Western code page, for instance, the translation will be output in the code page of the target. This sounds like a good idea, but in reality most multilingual websites are in Unicode. To receive Unicode files, you need to feed in Unicode files to start with. To be able to work with the resulting files, you need to then convert them. You can do this individually with a text editor such as EmEditor (see http://www.emeditor.com/) or you can do what I did. I simply imported the complete website in each of the translated languages into Déjà Vu X, which allows the user to control the resulting output; then I exported it into the same language but with different code in one (or in that case, 12 large batch operations).

Browser, Browser, Browsers

I’ll try not to go into great detail here, but thanks to Firefox there’s some real life in the competition for the hearts and minds of browser users (and at this point that should pretty much be synonymous with computer users). In the last couple of weeks alone:

– Firefox released a security update (see http://www.mozilla.org/).

– A new beta version of the presumably dead Netscape was released (see http://tinyurl.com/5t6w3); this version combines most of the abilities of Firefox with those of Internet Explorer where Firefox fails, such as with the Windows Update site at http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/.

– Opera released a new beta version of its browser that I know many readers love (see http://www.opera.com/).

– Microsoft announced a whole new version of Internet Explorer for later this year.

So what, you ask? You’re right, all this doesn’t have to be a big deal. However, considering how much time we spend looking at content delivered through browsers, it’s nice to know that there are at least attempts to deliver a better and more secure environment for Web content.

Entering Text Made Easy

I have used a couple of freeware programs to change a number of keys on my keyboard (KeyTweak, see http://webpages.charter.net/krumsick, and the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Developer, see www.microsoft.com/globaldev/tools/msklc.mspx) and one little application that allows me to enter all kinds of special characters and create macros to enter often-used expressions (AllChars, see http://allchars.zwolnet.com/). The truth is, though, that I try to limit the changes to my personal keyboard to avoid becoming ineffective on a standard keyboard once my fingers have “learned” the new combinations.

Though many of the tasks that this application does can be done with MS Word or other applications as well, this tool seems to work in almost any Windows application.

Another way of speeding up typing is to use tools that apply the system of AutoComplete (as in MS Excel or in Web addresses in a browser). I mentioned Intellicomplete (www.flashpeak.com/icomp) a while back, a tool that comes pre-loaded with a number of Western languag¬es, and I recently stumbled over a freeware cousin: Let Me Type (see www.clasohm.com/lmt) collects information as you type and completes words that you have typed before (when you’re on their website, check out the awesome cow collection at www.clasohm.com/cows…).

Of course, users of the wonderful open source office suite OpenOffice.org are already familiar with this function, which is integrated into the program itself (under Tools> AutoCorrect/AutoFormat> Word Completion).

More can be found on the subject on Google: Search for www.google.com/search?q=keyboard+macro or www.google.com/search?q=customize+keyboard

Screenshot Utilities

I have always resisted the temptation to look into programs that specialize in taking screenshots (pictures of the computer screen). I’ve always taken screenshots the “traditional way” (Alt+PrintScreen for the active dialog or PrintScreen for the complete screen) and then pasted them into a regular graphic application.

When you help someone to solve a computer problem, the easiest way to describe the problem is often to take a screenshot of the error message or whatever dialog you have problems with, paste it into an email, and send it off. But what most people don’t realize is that the images that are pasted into the email are gigantic files in bitmap format. One way around this is to paste the screenshot into Paint Shop, Photoshop, or whatever graphic application you use, save it as a .gif or .jpg file, and send that. But that requires a lot of additional steps…

With a screenshot application like SnagIt (see http://www.snagit.com/) you can automatically save the image in a file format of your choice (under Output> Properties> Image File) and paste it into your email or elsewhere in that format. And talk about support: SnagIt also offers the capability to record a video of whatever process isn’t going right on your computer. You can then send this off in a commonly used video format if a mere explanation with words and screenshots doesn’t help.

Keeping It Simple

Most of you know that the Windows Explorer and the Internet Explorer are actually the same application. This means that you can access the Web right from the place where you browse through your files, and vice versa. This also means that the “Explorers” share the same Favorites links.

There are several ways of doing this. The easiest way is to simply drag the folders to the Links toolbar (if you can’t see that toolbar, make sure it is selected under View> Toolbars> Links) and a shortcut is automatically created. You can rename the shortcut to your heart’s content by right-clicking on it and selecting Rename. Once you are done with the project, you can delete the shortcut through the right-click menu.

Similarly, many applications offer you the option to change toolbars for common tasks. To create a button for any of the available menu commands, select Tools> Customize and drag the desired command to the toolbar. Of course, this isn’t limited to Word. It can be performed in any application that offers you the option to customize your toolbars.

Keeping Up With Your Clients

Joseph Bayerl recommended ZoneTick: “I recently paid $15 for ZoneTick (see http://products.wrconsulting.com/zonetick/en) and am pleased with it. It is a tool that puts up to 10 time zone clocks in the system tray in place of the system clock. It saves me the moments I would rather not waste on figuring out (sometimes incorrectly) what time it is in Moscow, Frankfurt, or wherever my current clients may be. It has a clean interface, and uses background colors to indicate the time zones in which it is after business hours.”

Sounds like a fun tool.

Open Sourcer Newsletter

McKay’s newsletter for translators who are interested in open source computing options may be a valuable source of information for some of you.

“Open Source Update is an e-newsletter for language professionals who are interested in free and open source software. The newsletter is geared toward translators who are not (yet!) heavy-duty users of free and open source software, but of course anyone is welcome to subscribe.”

At http://www.translatewrite.com/osupdate.html you can both subscribe and read previous issues.

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