The Translorial’s Tool Kit
By Jost Zetzsche © 2004 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 advice 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.
THE Solution to Spam
This heading probably got your attention, but I am only half-kidding.
AnchorDesk’s Brian Cooley wrote an interesting article recently in which he compared himself to Hiroo Onoda, the Japanese soldier who didn’t get the memo that World War II was over until 1974. Brian feels that he’s in the same situation with instant messaging.
A while back, the same thing happened to me (see the chapter on Collaboration Tools in my Tool Box book, www.internationalwriters.com/toolbox). Instant messaging had been around for several years, but I had filed it away as something that 16-year-olds used to chat about acne and boy/girlfriends. Only when I started to work in a workgroup where instant messenger applications was the preferred form of communication did I start to realize how powerful a tool this can be, and how much more effective it is than email. The fact that you can exchange questions and answers instantaneously with your workmates in virtual workgroups can save you hours over just a few days, especially in situations where communication is essential (and isn’t that what we as translators do?).
Even though many of us work in virtual workgroups for much of our time, very few translators use instant messenger applications as work-related communication tools (I would love to be proved wrong on that!).
Aside from the above-described misconceptions, another barrier to the effective use of instant messaging may be that most messaging networks (AOL, ICQ, Yahoo!, MSN, and many others) are not compatible with one other, so you have to agree on one provider in your group before you can actually communicate.
Fortunately, there are some applications out there that simultaneously support numerous protocols, making it possible to talk to your AOL, Yahoo!, and MSN “buddies” at the same time and from within one application. The one that I have been using is the open-source freeware program Miranda (see www.miranda-im.org). This comes in a bare-bones version when you first install it, but it can be added onto to your heart’s content with some of the hundreds of free plug-ins that are available on its website. Oh, and to come back to the title of this article—there is no spam in instant messenger (if you adjust your settings accordingly)!
Office 2004 for Mac
Office 2004 for Mac was released recently. Though it was praised by most reviewers, I don’t think it’s that much of an improvement over the previous version. Many of the new features are taken over from the Windows versions of Office (such as the review and research features or the smart buttons). There is one thing that most reviewers overlooked but I really like: the Notebook Layout view in Word. I’ve often complained that a Word document doesn’t offer several tabs (like an Excel spreadsheet) so that you can add notes or files to a document without actually inserting them into the text. That is exactly what this feature allows you to do. I don’t care for some of its features (for instance, if you switch to a different view, the tabs aren’t maintained until you switch back to the Notebook view), but this is a great step in the right direction and makes me hopeful for the next Windows release of Office.
Another Mac tool that was recommended by a reader (Greg Hopper Moore, email@example.com) is the time-and job-tracking tool Clock and Track (see http://www.bdnsoftware.com/products/clockandtrack/intro.html). In some ways it is similar to the Windows tool Time Stamp I’ve mentioned before (see www.syntap.com), but it’s significantly more sophisticated (you’re able to track time by preconfigured client and project and to write invoices) and a lot more humorous (you’ll see what I mean when you start playing with the tool). It is available as a shareware download. If I spent more billable time on my Mac, I would certainly want to use it.
Embedding Fonts in Office Documents
Here’s a tip on the portability of fonts: Most of us have been in situations where we receive a well-designed document, but as soon as we open it up on our computers it looks like it was formatted by my four-year-old. Or worse, we spend hours making a document look perfect, proudly send it off, and then receive a screaming e-mail from the client because the document’s a mess at the other end. While there could be a variety of reasons for this, the most common problem is that a font was used which hasn’t been installed on the recipient’s computer. Fortunately, programs such as Word and PowerPoint offer the capability of embedding TrueType fonts (it isn’t possible to embed PostScript fonts), thus making sure that the document or the presentation will look just the same on the recipient’s computer.
In Word, select Tools>Options>Save>Embed TrueType Fonts (thanks to Rebecca Davis, firstname.lastname@example.org for this contribution); in PowerPoint, select File>Save As>Tools>Save Options>Embed True Type Fonts. The drawback of this method is that you end up with a slightly larger file, but considering the enormous size of files in the latest Office editions, this shouldn’t make such a big difference (unless you’re using an East Asian or a Unicode font).
Give Excel a Break
One of the most coveted keyboard shortcuts in Excel must be Alt+Enter. Anyone who has ever tried to add a line break into an Excel cell (i.e., force text to the next line within a cell) knows that the “normal” shortcuts such as the Enter key (for a new paragraph or “hard return”) or the combination of Shift+Enter (for a line break within a paragraph or “soft return”) does nothing but select the next cell (Enter) or the current cell (Shift+Enter).
As you will by now have already guessed, the magic bullet is Alt+Enter, which will break the text to the next line while still staying within the current cell.
For users of OpenOffice.org’s Chart program (the Excel equivalent), the shortcuts are a little different: Enter to select the next cell, Alt+Enter to reselect the current cell, and Ctrl+Enter to add a line break with a cell.
Office 2003 and the New Outlook
In my Tool Box book, I make a strong case for why it doesn’t really pay to update to Office 2003, with the possible exception of Outlook 2003 (if you choose to use Outlook as your email client). I’ve rarely been as happy with a program as I am with Outlook 2003, especially because of its outstanding junk mail filter.
Outlook users will also be pleased to find out about the sharpest little Outlook add-on that I’ve ever seen, pointed out by Ariella Germinario-Lingenthal (email@example.com): Lookout (see www.lookoutsoft.com), a search tool that makes your searches through your Outlook files (including attachments) and any other files on your computer lightning fast. It achieves this through a comprehensive indexing of all content in the files that you are searching.
Apparently, even Microsoft was impressed by this tool, because it recently purchased Lookout Software. What this probably means is that the next version of Outlook (and Windows) will have this as a standard feature. Until then, however, you can download it for free!
Microsoft Glossaries and Trados Databases
A few readers asked me again about the URL of the Microsoft glossaries in the last few weeks. It is ftp://ftp.microsoft.com/developr/msdn/newup/Glossary/. Unfortunately, the glossary site has been very unstable during the last few weeks, so if it gives you an error message when you try to log on, try, try again….
I recently talked to the person at Microsoft who is responsible for the Microsoft glossaries. She is presently in the process of rethinking and possibly redoing the way the glossaries are being published. One possibility would be to not wait a few months before publishing new glossaries but instead to publish a new glossary for a new product as it appears.
She is very eager to get some feedback. If you care to contribute some feedback, you can either write to firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can write to me and I can compile and forward the responses.
Trados expert Tuomas Kostiainen (EN>FI, email@example.com) reports on a freeware tool that allows for the conversion of the Microsoft glossaries (to be found at ftp://ftp.microsoft.com/developr/msdn/newup/Glossary/). It’s called MSGloss2TWB (see http://www.globalready.net/downloads.html) and, according to Tuomas, it’s very easy to use.
Downloadable Glossary of the EU
The Eurovoc covers the fields in which the European Communities are active. It exists in the 11 official languages of the European Union (Spanish, Danish, German, Greek, English, French, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Finnish, and Swedish) and has also been translated by the parliaments of Albania, Croatia, Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, and Slovenia.
There are literally thousands of glossaries available on the Internet, but the majority is not downloadable. For me it makes a huge difference whether I can integrate a glossary into my existing terminology database that I use with my computer-assisted translation (CAT) tool or whether I have to go somewhere and make a special effort to look for a term. The more I use CAT tools, the more I believe in the incredible power of well-kept terminology databases. Since I imported the 7,000+ terms of that glossary into my 100,000+ term main terminology database three or four days ago, I’ve already had five or six occasions where a new term was suggested to me that I may not have thought of otherwise.
CAT-Proofing Your Computer
If all this talk about CAT tools just doesn’t resonate with you, here is a tool that you might like: http://www.bitboost.com/pawsense/index.html. Have fun!