Interpretation, NCTA, Translation

T&I Tech: Basics and Beyond with Nora Díaz – December 2022 General Meeting

by Thilo Ullmann-Zahn

The December 2022 General Meeting of the Northern California Translators Association was animated by the lively presence of Nora Díaz, ubiquitous translator, interpreter, mentor, and teacher as well as a vibrant force within the American Translators Association and on the techforword platform for T&I technology. Nora also edits the Translator’s Tool Box.

Nora Díaz General Meeting

Nora began her hourlong presentation by reminding the some 25 remote attendees that, in our role as translators and interpreters, we should think of our workstation beyond just our laptop, aiming instead for a full-featured workspace. This begins with a good keyboard: membrane or mechanical. The membrane keyboard is a familiar feature of modern laptops. The mechanical keyboard has a satisfying click and tactile experience but may be too loud for some people or environments.

Another basic need is an external solid-state drive (SSD) with at least 512 GB if you want to handle video presentations. Our computer should have at least 16 GB RAM to easily run several applications (browsers, Microsoft Office suite, computer-assisted translation tools, Zoom, etc.) simultaneously.

Nora focused next on the need for a good mouse as essential for enhanced productivity. Our mouse should be programmable so that we can quickly access shortcuts at the touch of a button to accelerate our work. Nora uses a Logitech mouse as well as a touchpad, which is faster for certain operations. A numerical keyboard with programmable keys like the X-keys with MacroWorks is useful. And an ergonomic trackball helps avoid problems like carpal tunnel syndrome, especially if used with a mouse pad and wrist pad.

The most common problem for remote interpreters and transcriptionists is that speakers are often unintelligible. We can’t interpret what we can’t hear. A speech recognition program transcribes what the speaker is saying into text to supplement our own understanding. Nora calls Dragon the “gold standard,” because it can be trained with custom commands, and recommends the Professional Anywhere version.

Nora cited four basic pieces of hardware that all conference interpreters need: earphones, mixer, console, and microphone. First rule of thumb: Don’t skimp! Go for a good pair of earphones to protect your hearing and health. A mixer is needed because most people sound awful on a mike. Interpreters must know how they sound, be able to hear themselves and the speaker, and be able to communicate with their partners. A mixer also provides quick volume controls at our fingertips, mute and unmute features, and the ability to monitor the outgoing language.

Interpreting booth

Those who work a lot on Zoom will need Cymo Booth to keep in communication with fellow interpreters. Cymo Booth also lets you easily add glossaries for quick consultation.
GT BOOTH is a tool that lets you set up a virtual booth anywhere, anytime.

Finally, Nora reminded us to obtain the client’s express permission before activating automatic speech recognition! Options here include Cymo Note, Web Captioner, Otter, and of course Google Cloud Speech-to-Text.

See all of Nora’s valuable tips and keep up to date with her latest tips by following her blog!