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. BY JOST ZETZSCHE © 2008 INTERNATIONAL WRITERS’ GROUP, COMPILED BY YVES AVÉROUS

EvernoteWith the content-centric Web 3.0 in the making, storage, retrieval, and interpretation of content is front and center to many technologies. But many of these technologies are concerned with large databases and are just a bit beyond the scope of the regular user, who’s just looking for good ways to store and retrieve data efficiently. I recently looked at a number of tools designed to help with that, and I liked none quite as much as Evernote. Evernote comes in a number of flavors: for mobile devices, for a web-browser-based interface, and in a (Windows and Mac) desktop version. And it is this last edition I looked at. Evernote is a fairly large download—a bit over 50 MB—but it installs easily. One of the options during the install is for you to choose whether you would like to install handwriting recognition for German, English, French, and Russian.
This brings us to what this tool actually does: It allows you to collect snippets from any kind of application—web browser, office application, Acrobat Reader, etc.—in the form of text or image (!), uploads those to a server-based location—so that you can access them from any computer—and processes and indexes them. One of the processes that it applies is that of OCR (optical character recognition) as well as HWR (handwriting recognition). This means that if your images contain text in a decipherable manner, Evernote will also index those words and you will be able to search for them quickly.
It really is quite impressive. First I saved a couple of images that I knew would be hard to read, such as our logo to TranslatorsTraining with the turned-around r. Not surprisingly, that one could not be OCR’ed. But when I saved the logo of this newsletter (, text: “The Tool Kit — A computer newsletter for translators”), Evernote was able to do a beautiful job on it. I was able to “crack” the database that contains the index and this is what it contained for that image:
computer acomputer a computer acomputey a computey acompuler a compuler a coimputer aromputer a romputer ac omputer accipiter computed computes attributed reactivates newsletter for translators the tool toot kit hit kr kk kite kith kits kilt ten its tea tel tlc ltd ltv tem
When I entered any of these “words” into Evernote’s interface, the graphic was called up and the presumed word highlighted. It’s a very clever way of using OCR technology, I think. Rather than going for super-accuracy as is necessary when the OCR output needs to produce a document, here it uses its fuzzy abilities to make the application better—making sure to get to the right word while allowing for typos during the search.
Once a snippet, a web page, a file, or a note (that you can manually enter) is saved, it becomes part of your extended memory, which can be searched on the fly. And if there is no text in the item you saved, you can add tags manually that can be searched as well. Of course, any of the items are printable and can be saved elsewhere on your computer, and you can choose to organize your items in certain categories (“notebooks”).
Evernote is free, unless you are a true packrat and want to save more than the 40 MB a month you are allowed to save with your free account. In that case, there is a paid version ($5 a month) that gives you 500 MB a month.
It was interesting to see which languages are supported for plain text (this does not include the OCR or HWR ability). The only languages that I could not make work were Chinese, Japanese, and some Indic languages. Other languages, including Korean, Thai, Tibetan, Arabic, and Hebrew, worked fine.
So, what is this good for as a professional tool? Well, I can think of various uses. While working on a translation project—especially a longer-term one—there are many times when you find information during your research that might not have an immediate application. You end up discarding it only to kick yourself later when you need it. With a tool like Evernote, it is readily available. The same is true for the rare glossary that you might stumble on without having an immediate need for it. Sure, you could bookmark it, but you could just as well put it somewhere where it’s easily found again. And on and on. . . .

Laptop users need to know that Trados always had alternative shortcuts (Ctrl+Alt+N for Set/Close Next Open/Get — instead of Alt+[Num+] — and Ctrl+Alt+Z for Translate to Fuzzy — instead of Alt+[Num*]), but it never really publicized them much at all. That is, until it turned out that a bug with Trados and Word 2007 caused the Num-shortcuts not to work. Now the semi-official shortcuts are indeed the Ctr+Alt versions.
(You can check them out in Article 2201 in the Trados knowledgebase—thanks to Emma Goldsmith, Carmet Erez, and Amit Dharma for this tip.) JZ