imacThere’s never been a better time to get a new Mac. Since last June, the whole line-up of consumer machines has been completely revamped. Choices include the cost-efficient MacBook or a super-duper quad-core iMac. I am particularly impressed with the pixel real estate made available on the new 27-inch iMac. With a finer resolution than previous pricey monitors, this new all-in-one desktop counts as many pixels in width as the 30-inch Cinema Display and only 160 less pixels in height than that flagship monitor that is still listed at $1,800 by itself. → continue reading

Translation Contract: A Standards-based Model Solution

Review by Stafford Hemmer

Translation Contract: A Standards-based Model Solution by Uwe Muegge, 100 pages, Authorhouse, 2005, ISBN: 1418416363

Translation Contract: A Standards-Based Model Solution is a toolkit in book form. Author Uwe Mr. Muegge dices the contractual relationship between translation buyer and vendor into a collection of checklists and work order forms. Using DIN 2345, ÖNORM D, and ASTM F15.48 standards, Mr. Muegge aims at four basic goals: improving communication between translation vendors and translation buyers, structuring and standardizing translation projects, improving efficiency, and improving quality. His intended audience includes “translation buyers and vendors who do not have comprehensive contractual agreements in place … and [those] who do not have much experience in the translation and/or localization field.” If this toolkit were presented in electronic form, it would be a hit. But in its present book form, Translation Contract misses its mark.

At skeptical first glance, publisher AuthorHouse should have considered condensing the booklet prior to its publication. “Section A: Master Data,” a full 21 of the booklet’s 100 pages, is a sparse presentation of basic contract elements that could have all fit into a one-page form. Indeed, the data fields presented in this section are obvious requisites to any valid and enforceable translation contract. But do neophyte freelancers or contract-deficient agencies really need four pages of prompting lest they forget to incorporate buyer and vendor contact info into their newly structured contracts?

The meat is in Sections B-H. Mr. Muegge guides readers on identifying and defining translation services, documents, textual and formal considerations, hardware and software used, additional agreements, and review procedures. Each section starts with a one-sentence “overview” of the objective; for example, “Section E: Formal Considerations. In this section, the contractual partners reach agreement on specific formal aspects of the translation project.” Here, Mr. Muegge succeeds in highlighting salient contract issues that users can take into consideration when structuring translation projects and contracts. The three-page “Appendix: Overview of Translation-Related Standards” adds value by filtering ISO standards, and listing references to Internet-based resources, thereby perhaps warranting the booklet’s $15.50 cover price. Still, the two-page set of definitions that preface the book, including such gems as, “target language: A target language is a natural language. Translation professionals use a target language to translate to,” could do with a little polish.

Mr. Muegge’s comprehensive approach is important for closing the loopholes found in various model contracts, such as those from ATA. Perhaps, then, the only thing wrong with this book is precisely that: it’s a book. His target audience certainly would have been better served if he delivered Translation Contract as a software product, because that data medium would enable the author to deliver the comprehensiveness he seeks to provide. In addition to presenting a useable boilerplate contract, the checklists and work order forms would then become more valuable to users because they could then be downloaded and modified. Mr. Muegge could also spend more time fleshing out the terminology, and delivering more information about the translation-related standards upon which the booklet is based, rather than just list them. If, in the future, Mr. Muegge decides to present Translation Contract in electronic format, he’ll be sure to hit the bull’s-eye.

PC Hardware AnnoyancesHow to Fix the Most Annoying Things About Your Computer Hardware

by Stephen J. Bigelow
Book review by Yves Avérous

When my cousin eventually decided to buy a PC after weeks of my twisting his arm to get a Mac, I told him: “I’m sorry, you are on your own. After years of troubleshooting my PCs I have not switched to the Mac only to plunge back into ‘dll hell’ again.”

Still, I try to be considerate towards my fellow PC users. Not all of you have a choice—especially if you have been enslaved by single-platform solutions or still believe, against all odds, that it’s more convenient to use a PC. And some of you cannot even be swayed by the fact that there aren’t any known viruses for the Mac operating system and that the system is immune to spyware! So what’s a good friend to do when facing so much resistance to common sense? Offer the next best thing to his own helping hand: PC Hardware Annoyances from O’Reilly, by longtime tech guru Stephen J. Bigelow.

As suggested by its title, PC Hardware Annoyances deals with the most common computer issues in the area of home office computing, with close to 600 questions overall (dare I say “plug and play?”). Drivers, connectors, cards, ports, settings, graphics (cards, monitors, etc.), sound (cards, microphone, speakers, even iPod,), hard drives, CD/DVD drives, networks, printers and scanners … how many times have you wished you could make sense (or better sense) out of those? With 17 years of experience talking about computers to the lay public, Bigelow knows how to make things light and simple. Of course, some areas, such as the BIOS, cannot always be dealt with elegantly: “… the Phoenix/Award BIOS version used with the Tyan Tomcat i7210 (S5112) Pentium 4 “Northwood” or “Prescott” motherboard provides a Quick Power On Self Test option in the Advanced BIOS Features menu …” Poetry not quite in motion. Fortunately, this comes with an illustration.

The question-and-answer approach — sort of a printed FAQ — is not my favorite format, but the publishers of this book have implemented it brilliantly, with easy-to-read “tip” and “warning” boxes, short definitions inserted strategically, and a plethora of screenshots and illustrations. It all conspires to make this smart and friendly book a valuable tool for the average to experienced Windows XP user. In the end, PC Hardware Annoyances can not only help you, but also help you help others.

Even though I tend to generally pick the big “bible” kind of manual when I choose a tech book—well-organized hierarchical opuses like the Missing Manual collection from O’Reilly, for example, for my critical apps like OS X or Office (Mac)—I must admit that PC Hardware Annoyances does a good job at corralling most of the support you might need in a manner that is logically organized and easily digestible.

Another virtue of this book is to remind me how fortunate I am now, as a Mac user, not to need this kind of extensive help anymore.

PC Hardware Annoyances: How to Fix the Most Annoying Things About Your Computer Hardware;
by Stephen J. Bigelow, 268 pages, O’Reilly Media, 2005, ISBN: 0596007159.

If This Be Treason

Translation and Its Dyscontents, A Memoir
by Gregory Rabassa

Review by Anne Milano Appel

Gregory Rabassa’s long-awaited memoir takes the form of an inquiry into the varieties of perfidy and treason implied in traduttore/traditore, with Rabassa himself as the (self-)accused as well as judge-and-jury. The hearing is replete with personal confessions, such as how Rabassa “backed into translation,” the fact that he himself has tried to “teach what is unteachable,” and his ultimate dissatisfaction with any translation he has done. Along the way he reprises unanswerables, such as the facelessness imposed on the translator (an invisibility that we have come to cherish as “ideal”), the treachery of words (can a stone ever be a ‘pierre’ or a ‘pierre’ a stone?), and the fact that translation is about value judgment and personal choice with the translator as just one of the many readers of the work. If there is one thing Rabassa declares with utter certainty it is that translation is an art, not a craft, “because you can teach a craft but you cannot teach an art.”

To those in translation circles, Gregory Rabassa needs no introduction. Now in his eighties, he is a giant who translated the masters of Latin American magic realism. Having translated over 50 works by such luminaries as Gabriel García Márquez, Julio Cortázar, and Mario Vargas Llosa, his accomplishments are uncontested.

The case studies that Rabassa includes are, by his own admission, a kind of “rap sheet” of his experiences with his authors, and will resonate with any translator. His testimony that his relationship with these writers was personal in some cases, while “regretfully only through their work” in others, implies a strong preference for author-translator interaction. I identified with this, as I did with his approach of following the text to see where it leads: an exercise of “controlled schizophrenia” requiring skills at “mutability.”

The verdict (also the title of the book’s final section) in the end is that there are no certain answers and “translation is but another version of the truth.” It is the “Not Proven” verdict of Scots law, consistent with the ambivalencies implicit in translation. And so Rabassa’s translator is left in limbo, where many of us live and work, neither guilty of treason nor free of doubts. Can Rabassa’s experiences be said to reflect a certain universality? Yes, judging by my own encounters with translation. I, too, relish interaction with my authors, and like Rabassa I never read a book in its entirety before translating it, preferring to follow the text to see where it leads. I admit to a certain degree of “controlled schizophrenia” and am not adverse to “mutability.” Am I ever guilty of treason? Am I ever truly satisfied with a translation? The verdict remains “Not Proven.”


If This Be Treason: Translation and Its Dyscontents, A Memoir; by Gregory Rabassa, 189 pages, New Directions Publishing Corporation, 2005, ISBN: 0811216195.   



At the Movies: Reviewing “The Interpreter”

By Tetu Hirai

On April 19th, NCTA members got a rare treat in the form of a special, by-invitation-only screening of Universal Pictures’ release of “The Interpreter,” starring Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn. In conjunction with the development of an article on the making of the movie—written by NCTA member Carolina Arrigoni-Shea and appearing in the May issue of Translorial—the studio generously offered tickets to NCTA members for showings in four cities: San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, and Fresno.

In the film, Silvia Broome (played by Nicole Kidman), is an interpreter who works at the United Nations, and who overhears a plot to assassinate an African head of state. This plan is spoken in a rare dialect that very few people, including Silvia, understand. Silvia then becomes the target of the killers, and her world is changed as her own political background is slowly revealed to her FBI protectors.

For those of us in NCTA who are interpreters, we had the unique opportunity of assessing the movie from the point of view of our own profession. But both interpreter and translator colleagues had much to say, especially pertaining to the credibility of the interpretation done by Nicole Kidman’s character, and to the opportunity the movie offered in making the public more aware of the profession of interpretation.

Some attendees generally felt that Nicole Kidman did a credible job in depicting an interpreter. Sacramento attendee Michel Rousselin, a former United Nations interpreter, said, ‘’I felt that Kidman’s depiction of an interpreter was quite natural and very well done. She was speaking a bit slower at the beginning (as would be expected for a real interpreter) and then she spoke a bit faster as she heard more phrases.”

Others in attendance, including San Jose attendee Andrea Wells and San Francisco attendees Marianne Pripps and Anne Milano Appel, felt that the movie fell short in depicting the interpreter’s life—its demanding skills, fascinating subjects, and extreme stresses—in a way that truly represented the breadth and depth of the profession. Echoing the notion that the film was more of a suspense-thriller than a true examination of an interpreter’s life, San Francisco attendee Anthony Alioto noted that the movie “had little to do with the real activities of a U.N. interpreter.”

Overall, however, most attendees thought it was beneficial for the industry that interpretation was depicted on the big screen at all, and that the public became more aware of the profession. As attendee and Sacramento correspondent Tatyana Neronova said: “I believe that this movie allowed people to see how important our job is, and how careful and professional we should be so that we do a good job.”

We now hope that more opportunities lie ahead.

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 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, 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 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 (, 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 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 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

– A new beta version of the presumably dead Netscape was released (see; 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

– Opera released a new beta version of its browser that I know many readers love (see

– 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, and the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Developer, see and one little application that allows me to enter all kinds of special characters and create macros to enter often-used expressions (AllChars, see 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 ( 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 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…).

Of course, users of the wonderful open source office suite 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 or

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 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 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 you can both subscribe and read previous issues.