Work on an older, slower computer

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Over the years I’ve gone through a lot of laptops, trying different brands. My last laptop was a Macbook Air. While traveling I wanted to do some fancy video editing and thought I’d give it a try. I had Windows 7 installed on one half, for translation and other work, with Mac on the other half, for video and graphics work, and internet (I found Chrome worked best on the Mac “side”).

I particularly enjoyed going to cafes and doing the ol’ three finger swipe, jumping back and forth between either operating system (yes, I had them both running at the same time), always hoping for some macsnob to shudder in horror of seeing Windows running on their favourite machine.

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It was a great setup, worked quickly, and lasted about six years. But my constant close proximity to the ocean, most often living in a hut or bungalow right on the beach (one of the pleasures of this online job), meant a shorter lifespan for virtually all my electronics, including even cables, due to the moist, salty and often windy air.

When my macair finally did die, it happened at a time when I had other obligations and did not want to fork out the high cost of a replacement. Nor did I really want to, because I intended to remain with a life on the beach, and wanted something that could be more easily replaced.

Acer One

After some research, I settled for this. A mere $200 and seemed to have a good reputation. For my smartphone (necessary for this job), I’ve been happy with the Samsung S5. Reasonably waterproof, overall good quality, and can be bought new on ebay also for $200.

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The Acer came with only a 1.7GHz processor and the much heralded Windows 10. But after spending a solid two weeks reading many websites, tweaking and disabling as many services as possible, I finally decided that W10 is a total piece of crap. All these unnecessary bells and whistles, and I started to dream of the days when I worked on XP. Back then I noticed when I upgraded to W7, a sluggishness would soon creep in and strengthen as time went on. On my Mac, it worked fast, but I did not want to waste my time trying it on this slow machine. Which gave me an idea…

Linux Mint

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I tried dabbling in Linux once before and found it quite horrifying, but this particular “dev” (development of Linux) is actually quite Windows-like and easy to use. Sure, I ran into a few bugs, but the Linux world of forums is full of enthusiastic geeks who are quite happy to help you, a result of which there is a wealth of answers already out there available for you to surf through. I’ll give you some simple tips to help you get set up quickly and hopefully problem free.

Download to USB stick or memory card

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There is tons of info out there on this. The way I remember is I downloaded the Mint .iso installation file and, using Windows, created a boot installation disk on a memory stick or card – whatever free slots you have on your laptop.

You then restart your computer. In both Windows and Linux, the F8 key should get you to a menu where you can decide where you want to boot from. Choose the memory stick or wherever you create your boot drive.

Before this you should have studied and downloaded some websites explaining the various options. For example, it can boot the Mint operating system running directly from your stick. From there you can use the native browser to surf the internet. If you have enough room on your hard drive, you can keep your Windows as backup, create a partition and install the Linux. Then, when you restart your computer, you can boot to the Windows or the Linux that you had freshly installed on your system.

I started slow and had both systems, because it was somewhat scary to enter the world of Linux geeks and I wanted to make sure I could keep working.

Once I got used to the system, I was ready to start all over again and get rid of W10 once and for all.

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When I first started using my Mac, there was a two month period when I was not able to access my Windows half, but fortunately it did not cost me anything because I discovered a wonderful free program called Open Office. This can be installed on Mac, Windows or Linux and is capable of opening and working with all Microsoft Office software.

The only problem was that my translation memory (TM) software required Windows.

Anyway, before my big upgrade and erasure of W10, I decided to upgrade the harddrive to ssd and pump up the ram from 2 to 4 gigs.

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After some research, I found that it is best (for any operating system) to partition the hard drive into 50gig slots, keeping the main operating system on the C drive. Use only that for the operating system and your Linux software. Here is a screenshot of the disk space analyzer in Linux:

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Okay, rather geeky, but just wanted to show you how pretty it can be. Here is a screenshot of the various partitions (although I did not bother with compartmentalising into 50gig sections):

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Note the separate partition for the Swap. This makes the ram more efficient, so make sure you read up on that. Apologies that I did not save the websites I found, but there are many and not difficult to find an easy step-by-step explanation how to accomplish all these. Partition 1 is for the operating system and Partition 2 is for storing data or the Windows virtual machine (if I’m not mistaken regarding the latter).

It is apparently much safer and faster to break up your remaining space into smaller chunks of let’s say 50gigs. You do not need to defragment an ssd drive, but generally this is a good approach. One of the slots should be saved for…

Oracle VM Virtual Box

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Note that so far everything has been free. I even downloaded the free version of Lightworks for Linux, for video editing. It can occasionally stutter, and I have to shut everything else down to conserve ram (remember, only 4gigs), but what do you expect with a 1.7GHz processor? It does the job in any case.

Within the virtual box I then installed my beloved XP. Man! what a treat it is to see how lightning fast everything is. No sluggishness at all. Found it easily enough on the pirate bay. Make sure to get the SP3 version, which is the most stable. This should be installed on one of the separate partitions.

Security

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Of course I can imagine a lot of alarm signals went off in your head. I often fantasize bragging about my system, and when average Joe hears that I work in XP, I imagine a humorous conversation commencing.

“You have internet on your system?”
“Yup.”
“You don’t install updates?”
“Nope, and I don’t bother with any virus protection.”

You can imagine the rest. But you do have to set it up properly.

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First of all, with any operating system, after you get your basics set up in your administrative account, you then set up a regular user account, which you use for your main work.

The reason for this is if you are working in a regular user account and happen to get a virus, it will not be able to access administrative privileges without you manually typing in the password for the administrative account. So just this act alone will contain the virus, preventing it from wrecking havoc throughout the rest of your system.

It also once happened that a glitch developed and I was simply able to turn off the machine, restart, load into the Linux admin account and fix the user account externally.

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The wonderful thing about Linux is that there are hardly any viruses for it. Furthermore, you generally download all the software from the dev’s own “repository”. Each dev is slightly different. When installing software, you log into your admin account, activate the native Software Manager, and install new programs directly through that. This Manager accesses the software on Mint’s own site, so there is no danger of getting a virus from third party software. Very rarely do I have to go to a third party site to download some software and install it separately.

So in Linux/Mint there really is no need for antivirus software, which generally hogs up system resources and slows down your entire system, especially during occasional scans.

linux-system-resources-translation-computer-tipsAbove is a screenshot of the system resources program native to Mint. To the lower right are two additional programs I installed into the task bar. One when you click on pops up the info shown, while to the right of the cursor is a cpu bar always showing. After lengthier use the system starts to feel sluggish, usually when the Memory and Swap our pretty high. I find a quick restart (and it is quite fast) resolves this for another lengthier period of time.

Furthermore, I’d say that hackers generally respect the Linux community, so they don’t bother creating viruses for it. You are safe in the world of geeks!

The chrome browser works quite well in Linux.

The XP is fast, my translation memory software works fast, I prefer to use Office 2003, which works great, and I only have a few other software I use for Windows, such as Corel (although the simple Draw which comes with OpenOffice in Linux is surprisingly useful), and some software I prefer to work with when designing html pages (Microsoft Impressions), PHP (HTML Kit) and FTP and file management (Total Commander).

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Hence, the only internet I use in XP is for uploading files by FTP to my own server, so completely safe. Therefore, there is no need for anti-virus software in the XP as well. I know, feels like a naked, vulnerable baby, eh? But it’s foolproof. Of course, set up your regular user account on the XP as well, and just for fun I keep the firewall on, but doubt it’s necessary.

For quick editing of pics I prefer to use IrfanView in Windows, but Gimp for Linux is half decent and does the job.

Other software

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  • VLC works fine in Linux for watching movies.
  • I use Galculator as a calculator in Linux.
  • Nitro in Windows for creating PDF files (through the print function, any program – nothing like that exists for Linux).
  • Libre (OpenOffice) Draw in Linux can edit PDF files.
  • Dropbox in Linux for creating folders which automatically backup to the web every time you make a change to any of the files within them.
  • Gimp Image Editor for editing pics.

I see other software on my system, such as for rotating videos and so forth, but haven’t had a need for them yet. In any case, the Mint repository of free software is quite extensive. You then have your XP for anything particular you cannot find.

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The above is a screenshot of the free software available through the Software Manager. Note that I had to log into the admin account (you can just switch accounts so you do not have to logout of your regular user account) in order to activate this program to install software – good safety precaution.

Backup

And now possibly for the best part. Check out GParted.

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Yet more free software for Linux. After reading up on it, download it and follow the instructions to create a boot disk. Less than 16gigs total! Restart your computer and F8 boot to that to check it out. Has its own Firefox browser and has tons of little programs, even for Windows! You can use it to test your disks and other problems, in both Linux and Windows.

For me, I put in an external hard drive and simply cloned my system once I had everything set up and humming. It cloned also the Windows, so if something ever happens to your computer, a quick $200 expenditure and you’ll be up and humming again in no time.

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For particular files, like your accounting, pictures or translation files, you can backup those separately, since it takes a while to clone your entire system and you cannot work at the same time. It also has a synchronisation feature so you can backup only small changes. Quite robust little system, and it will give you a little feel for Linux before committing. Note that this is a different dev than Mint.

But as mentioned before, you can create a boot disk of Mint on a flash drive, for example, to give it a test run. Note that by default you will not be able to save anything on the flash, such as your desktop settings, but there is a way around that if you really want. I believe it involves partitioning the flash drive so that there is somewhere where you can store stuff (persistent storage).

Or if you want to get really fancy, you can clone your system onto an external ssd drive so that you can plug it into any computer to F8 boot into that and translate using someone else’s computer!

Note also if your laptop decides to stop working for whatever reason, the ssd drive and ram could still work, so all you need to do is insert those into your new Acer machine. But make sure to make a full backup anyway, as it takes time to set up a new system, with the virtual box and so forth.

With the old, regular spin type harddrive that I replaced with the ssd, I simply bought an adapter with case (IDE or SATA, depending on how many pins your internal HDD has) to turn that internal harddrive into an external one, meaning no waste.

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Back to translation and computer tips

Travel While You Translate

Not only because it allows me to work in the comfort of my own home and on my own schedule, but another reason why I like the profession of translation is because it gives me the freedom to travel around the world while maintaining an income. All you need is a laptop and an internet connection and you can do this job anywhere, any time.

For example, when I first started traveling through Asia, I was worried that the different time zone will cause me problems, but I found that it actually helped. After all, my major customers were located in the US and Europe, but with some fancy manipulation I resolved all issues and found that my value increased while my stress decreased.

Accepting Jobs and Doing the Jobs

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Motorbike bridge across river, northern tip of Borneo, Malaysia (roadtrip video).

The trick is to pay for some service, such as mobilem.cz or sms.ac, which forward emails from important customers as text messages to my mobile phone, wherever I might be.

For this I set up a forwarding filter on my primary email account with gmail. A copy of any email coming in from my most important customers is forwarded to my email-to-sms service. Any email sent to one of these special email addresses will be converted into a text message and sent to my mobile phone.

Whenever I move to another country, I always get a local sim card, so that I do not have to pay for incoming calls or text messages, and because internet through mobile phone is much cheaper rather than any roaming plan.

In the Discovery Rainforest outside of Sandakan, travel while you translate

In the Discovery Rainforest outside of Sandakan, Borneo, Malaysia (rainforest workstation video).

When I switch sim cards, my phone number changes, and I likewise change this with my email-to-sms service.

I may be having a picnic on a mountain top, or spending my evening with good friends in a restaurant. I’ll hear the incoming text message, or feel the phone’s vibrator. I’ll quickly check to see that it is an email from one of my important customers, in which case I’ll use the credit on the sim card to check my mail. Gmail supports smartphone viewing so that the costs are minimal and the correspondence is fast.

I’ll check my email and respond quickly to the customer. After all, it is a time game. Almost every translation agency sends job offers to many translators, whereby the ones who respond the fastest most often win the project. It really does not matter what time zone you are on, as long as you respond quickly to job offers.

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Botanical garden in Discovery Rainforest, Borneo, Malaysia

Sometimes I have to forward the attached file to another email account which I use specifically to download and view PDFs and other file types on my smart phone. Other times I might ask the customer to send a screenshot or sample of the text, so that I can view it and give my final confirmation that I can take the translation. Always make sure you know what you are accepting and that you can meet the deadline.

Once I accept the job, the customer confirms, sends the PO and I confirm etc., after which  I can relax for the rest of the evening, assuming I have accepted a job that will keep me busy for at least the next day. Other times I will accept many smaller jobs. The bottom line though is, because of the time difference, I generally accept work during my evenings (during working hours in Europe or the US), and do the work my next day.

I’ll usually finish all my translation work by 2pm, which is well before the offices start up in the US or Europe. This greatly alleviated any stress for timely delivery while my customers are happy because they have someone they can depend on if they receive a job offer towards the end of their business hours. I may have to wake up at 4am to accept a job, but I will deliver before they start up the next day. What chances do they have of finding a translator on their time zone willing to work late into the morning to get it done by the time they start up the next morning? Most translators will charge extra for such overnight service. I don’t have to, or I can, even though it is a casual work day for me!

In this way you can see that the time zone difference really does not have to be an issue.

Internet Connection is Crucial

From the example above, you can see that having a smartphone with internet connection (in Asia, unlike Europe or the US, it is easy to get a prepaid simcard with cheap internet capabilities, not requiring a permanent residence or long term contract) is crucial to quickly respond to customer requests. But once you start translating, the speed offered by such packages can often be too slow to do proper internet research, such as with online dictionaries when searching for specific terms.

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Exploring caves in Malaysia (photo album of caves).

For this, a faster internet connection directly to your laptop is desirable. Although it is true that many times have I used the internet package on my sim card to turn my smartphone into a wifi zone so that I could perform such research, albeit slower, and deliver my projects while riding a bus or train across a country!

In any case, with some creativity, it is becoming increasingly easier to find faster internet connections for this purpose. You may have to stomach a McDonald’s “happy pack”, a lunch at Tim Horton’s or Wendy’s, or perhaps surreptitiously slip into the lobby of a fancy hotel, but there are always options. When I first started traveling while translating more than eight years ago, it was more difficult and, heaven forbid, I often had to take a local bus to an internet café in a neighbouring town! A small price to pay though for the freedom to enjoy the fruits of the world at your own pace.

Some instructions on internet connection while traveling I wrote a long time when I first started out with this wonderful concept.

Taxes and Paperwork

Inevitably on the mind of anyone considering the same venture, but solved easily enough! In places like Beliz, Hong Kong, the Channel Islands and many others, it is perfectly legal to set up your business and pay a flat annual tax without the need to fill in complicated tax forms and other unnecessary headaches! If your bank account is in another country than where your customer is located, everything is smooth sailing. Since I have started traveling I have gone fully digital. No need to kill trees for paper at my corporate headquarters, or hire expensive accountants, or deal with the migraine of all that paperwork. More details here.

Extra Battery Power

And if you do try something like this, you will definitely want some backup power. If you buy a laptop, you might consider buying at least a second, backup battery. Simply switch batteries once one is emptied. You never want to drop below the dreaded 3% remaining power just as you are about to deliver a job. To conserve battery power, turn off your wifi, on your phone too if need be, and you will see how quickly power may drop once you do use it again.

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More caves in Malaysia.

For my smartphone I purchased a few extra lion 12V batteries with a standard 5V usb output, which I could use to charge up my phone. Or I could use the 12V output to power a 220V, compact inverter which I could plug my laptop into. These devices are not heavy and you can get rather compact ones, but you never want to be enjoying a beautiful view on a mountain top and realise you are not able to deliver a big project on time. Be smart and set things up so that you can enjoy your freedom!

Some tips on electrical connection and consumption when I first started translating while traveling.

Incognito

And lastly, be careful about boasting of your new found freedom. Many customers can be conservative and quickly skeptical that anything like this is possible. When I first started traveling I lost practically my entire client base because most of them thought it was not possible and stopped sending me work. Give it a careful test run before diving in full throttle. You can do much of your work offline at the cottage, but always give yourself room for some quality internet time before delivering so that you can research terminology properly and hand in your work well ahead of time. Your customers need not know of your backend technical issues! Just make sure you deliver quality work every time and you should be all set.

Videos of my travels
Videos of translation workstations while I travel
Pictures of my travels

The most effective way how to get translation work

Work at Home Translation Jobs

To Obtain or Not to Obtain Certification in Translation

When approaching potential customers or translation agencies, or when simply posting your translation profile online, certifications and credentials are a great way to give yourself credibility. Even a one year membership just to add their logo to your site or CV will look better than none, although renewing your annual membership shows that you are a serious and professional translator here for the long term.

ProZ Certification

If you do ever pay for certification, make sure to save a copy so that you can always use it to give yourself credibility.

Below is the letter I send to first-time translators who are interested in sending their application and CV to more than 15,000 translation agencies, suggesting to them that such certification can be even more advised considering they lack any experience in the industry.

As the number of people interested in entering the translation industry and using this service increases, I am concerned that the recipients might become bothered by the increasing number of applications from inexperienced translators. To prevent any recipients from unsubscribing from the list, I am encouraging inexperienced translators to at least undergo some sort of testing so that they are ready once they receive work. It is all too easy to send your CV, get busy filling in application forms, and then start working as soon you receive your first job offer.

The problem is that, in this manner, you will be learning “on the job”, which is dangerous with this profession, because once you have proved to an agency that you produce subpar work, they will blackmark your profile in their database and probably not want to send you any more work. Not only will you have wasted your time filling in their application form, but you will have wasted a portion of your investment to send your CV to this many recipients.

Therefore, to keep the recipients happy and willing to receive more applications through this service, to help protect your investment and to better prepare you once the work offers do start flooding in, I encourage first-time translators to undergo training. Every response that you receive from your application campaign should be treated as gold and you should not waste the first many for training purposes.

Certification with my service will include the following.

A translation test in your language combination(s): two services come to my mind.

1) ATA (American Translators Association). However, their tests are three hours long, many applicants fail, the tests are usually on location somewhere in the United States, and I did not find great benefit to having a membership in this organisation.

2) ProZ Certified PRO Network

  • your test can be submitted online, so no need to go anywhere. It is assessed by other translators in your language combination(s) and you will need to provide references. Not so difficult to succeed.
  • requires a full membership with ProZ ($144 for one year, $99 for half a year)
  • with certification and a full membership, your bids will show up near the top if bidding on projects. Your certification badge will show on your profile and many customers using ProZ prefer full paid members, because it shows they produce good enough quality to receive sufficient work to warrant and afford full membership. Even though the badge is removed once and if your account reverts back to a free one (not full membership), your profile still shows that you have passed and received the certification.
  • with a full membership they will teach you how to increase your chances of getting work through their portal and how to make your online profile with them look professional (my profile).

To be honest though, I did not find it worthwhile to continue, but I do continue to use the badge that I receive as proof that I did pass their test and that I am a qualified translator. Your proz profile can remain as an online CV, showing your endorsements from previous customers. You can also link to online samples of your previous translations, as I have done. If you have no previous samples, it would be good to create some, in the least just to get some experience in translation so you don’t jump into cold water and give a bad first impression. These samples can be submitted for part of the certification process as well.

I find Proz very useful for asking other translators regarding terminology. When you choose the best answer and add it to your glossary, and award the answerer points, you yourself are awarded credit which you can use to gain access to records in the BlueBoard. This is very useful if you want to research a company before accepting work from them, filling in their application form or performing any free tests. A full membership gives you full access to this, but since you can also pay a small amount of money to gain access to the records of individual agencies, the full membership is not necessary.

If you answer many questions for other translators, you are awarded points and this shows up in your profile. When bidding on projects, responses are listed ir order as follows: 1) those with a full membership and certification (those without certification are lower); 2) the number of your WWA (customers Willing to Work with you Again) endorsements; 3) the number of Kudoz points you have earned by helping other translators with their terminology questions.

In any case, all these things look good on your profile, and if you are interested in sending your CV to 15,000+ agencies but have no experience as a translator, it might be worth your while to first go through this process to beef up your profile, create some samples and gain a little bit of experience before approaching the agencies. However, in 20 years I received very little work through proz and found it consumed a lot of my time, but my profile adds to my credentials, and many claim that it continues to be a worthwhile investment for them. You can find many discussions on the internet concerning this.

3) You can research elsewhere, such as various certification bodies in your own country, whereby any certification whatsoever always looks good on your profile (especially if you lack the experience), but they often wont test you and just take your money.

However, to my knowledge, none of the above really test you what concerns hands-on translation skills. For this I can send you training material, test you myself and endorse you, based on skills that I feel are the most important when providing a translation:

  • how to format in Microsoft Word (the most prevalent software used in the industry) to produce professional looking documents. These skills will also help you work faster, increasing your income;
  • various tricks you can apply and resources you can turn to in order to find the right terminology for your translation. Without this knowledge you will be forced to guess. Agencies often employ a proofreader to check the quality of a translation, especially when dealing with translators who are new to them. These proofreaders are usually seasoned translators who are well-qualified to assess your work and who are capable of quickly finding your guess work or other misdemeanours. Your first job can therefore easily turn into a bad advertisement and result in no more work from that agency, so it is best that you know the correct procedures and provide immaculate work from the getgo. Don’t use your first few customers as a training session!
  • general tactics and approaches to provide the perfect translation, how to best deal with customers or bid on projects, touch base on Translation Memory software and how to best go about that, and other useful information.

Not only will this give your profile more credibility, but it will give you confidence and some experience to know what you are getting into. It takes a lot of time to fill in application forms and provide translation tests, so make sure you are ready and do a good job so that you can keep as faithful customers anyone who responds to your application.

university diploma certificate

A university diploma is certainly a certificate showing your qualifications in some area of knowledge.

The info package that is included with the blast service explains much of this, but I find that many first-time translators don’t bother to study it and are too enthusiastic to start earning money. Once you show yourself to an agency in bad light, they will leave a negative comment next to your profile and might wait a full year before trying you again, usually only when they have a particularly large project in your language combination and are somewhat desperate. These black smudges can be a pain to remove, so don’t underestimate them!

For this service and my own certification and endorsement I would charge $100, and keep testing you, without additional charge, until I feel you were ready to hit the market.

If you have already paid for the blast service and would rather take some time to build up your profile and gain some experience, I can refund you 80% or keep you in the accounting until you are ready. Without the various forms of certification and experience above, you will likely be forced to offer a lower rate for a period of time, to get your foot into the door, meaning you will end up paying these amounts anyway, if not more.

The translation industry is very competitive and it can be a tricky matter when setting your price. Quality agencies who pay more may look skeptically at you if your price is too low, but will demand superb quality if they do give you a chance. I can teach you how to approach each agency separately in order to maximize your earnings. Similar to how the airlines charge different rates to different travelers to maximise profits.

Consider the above my suggestion to first-time translators only. You are certainly free to blast your CV without training and learn the ropes on the go – I did!

If you are interested in some personal training and professional endorsement before you launch your translation career, feel free to contact me:

More translation tips.

Some interesting comments or questions submitted to this page:

Hello, I’m a new graduate with a M.A Bilingual translation (French-English), I want to continue for a PhD program in Translation studies. But I have a problem to find a research topic. Can you suggest some domains and coach me .

Funny how synchronicity works sometimes, but perhaps as a topic of research you could choose any of the subjects I touched on below in an email conversation I’ve been having with the owner of a language related website concerning a guest post I could submit:

Do you mean your story? I thought you will write about language. Nee’s Language blog is about language and only  accept articles about language.

Yah, the other guy asked me to write about my experiences in the translationindustry, so that is what I did. And why I’d rather find out more what kind ofarticle you’d like before I go ahead and write one. How many words would youlike? How many links am I allowed to me from my article and will they NOT benofollow? Concerning languages, I once wrote an opinion piece on English syntax at
http://001yourtranslationservice.com/articles/syntax_who-owns-English.htm
or perhaps I could write about the subtle differences between Czech and Slovak.

This article is very interesting, I am also a non native English speaker but I use English nowadays more than any other languages. And since I also know several languages, there is lot of mix-and-match in my language style. I don’t not worry about it as long as it is for informal context. Since this is based on your personal perspective and is a complaint towards English, I believe that it can attract much debates about who owns English or how odd the structure is, so on and so forth. Unless these “facts” about English come from a linguistics research, the story would be different. I also don’t feel comfortable to read “shite” appears several times, and I don’t want that in NLB.

You mentioned about Esperanto, is there any special reason to relate it with English? Or the idea just occurred as you were researching about this topic? Do you know Esperanto? I have read many pros and cons articles towards Esperanto, and they are merely based on personal perspectives.

The other topic about Slovak and Czech, I suppose you know Slovak, don’t you? You can write about your experience learning a language and make comparison between that language with the language(s) you  have known. I can put in Perspectives section.

Sure Ted, I can write something up, and make sure not to include Shite etc. That is why I’d rather discuss things before starting, to save time from having to go back and change things. I still need my questions answered concerning article length and links to my pages.

Concerning Esperanto, brought that up because have read it was a much more appropriate world language, if one was chosen. Designed by a Polak who is fluent in some seven languages or something. From my own experience I know that Slavic languages are much more exact in expression. English is full of exceptions and it’s structure is wishywashy. Not a good choice for a global language, as my article explains and as I have read from super linguists.

I was born in Czech, grew up in Canada from the age of 3 and graduated in university there (so I consider it my “native” language”), translated from Czech for 20 years and lived in Prague for 15 of it, and during which time I picked up Slovak too. Now they look the same when I read them. Funny how the brain works. It’s like those jokes passed around the internet

taht if you cahgne ltetres aornud as lnog as you keep the frsit and lsat lttres crercot the biran understands it.

It takes a little while for the brain to catch on but that is how Slovak is to me when I read it (in my mind I read “out loud” in Czech, and often forget that I am reading Slovak, but it took me several years to get to that level).

I also studied French for 11 years in Canada, one year in university, and taught myself basic Spanish and German. Or studied a year of Thai.

So I can write a lot on these issues, but your perspectives page has no PR whatsover, so I’d rather keep the article shorter. Or I can write a longer one, post it on my own site, and make a shorter, more introductory mention to my opinion on your site.

Automating many tasks in large translation project management

Just occurred to me that perhaps I could help you set up your system better. I design databases, both online and offline, and I cannot imagine running an agency fumbling around with hundreds of Excel files.

Just for a brief overview:

  • translator applies through my online application form, details get entered into a central database;
  • occasionally I download the database and update my offline version, so that I can manipulate with it offline and faster;
  • lets say I am approached with a project in five language combinations. I run a query in the database for those five languages, and I get a full list of all translators who can do those combinations. I’ll sort it according to their price. Based on the client, I will copy paste their details into an Excel sheet, choosing translators within a certain price range. I’ll run through the Excel sheet and erase those I’ve had problems with in the past. Once I’m happy with the selection I’ll copy paste those details into another program, which sends an email to the translators individually, addressing them by their names. This is good for very large projects. I might send these emails from my server at 450 an hour. This entire procedure might take half an hour to set up;
  • my online system also has a means to test translators, whereby each translator uploads their sample, and certain translators are designated as assessors, who through the online system read the samples and give it a grade. I can have many assessors for a certain language combination. I can then download the ratings and paste it into Excel file or whatever, and analyse it. Before I made this the time required to save files attached to an email somewhere on my computer and forward it to an assessor was ridiculous. At every step of my business I’ve automated my work in a concise way, saving me tons of time.

Anyway, there are many procedures, and I’m actually working on setting this up as an offer to other agencies, because I do enjoy the programming and database setup etc.

I also have a separate system to manage projects, where translators upload/download files, email notifications get sent automatically as soon as a file is uploaded (ie- a translator has completed the translation and uploaded it), project managers can log in and communicate with proofreaders and translators etc. (without knowing their contact details), all running smoothly while I do absolutely minimum work.

Anyway, thought that perhaps you might be interested in some of my systems.

Explaining the quality control process and other matters to a customer

Thank you for your email and informative website.

Our need for African translators is quite rare except for Amharic and Afrikaans. We get projects for those languages perhaps once or twice a year. However, we shall probably need to offer more African languages to a large US government client in 2010.

Please first tell me where you are. You have an LA address and a Czech email. Please also provide a phone number. We do not work with vendors whom we cannot contact by phone, if needed.

The LA address is for SEO purposes only. My main email address is kenax [AT] kenax.cz, but I also own kenax [AT] kenax.net and many other domains. 

I tend to move around a lot but I am constantly on highspeed internet wherever I am. Therefore my mobile telephone number can change from time to time. Right now I am in Bulgaria. I prefer communication by email but by phone is also possible. 

Without reading your website thoroughly, I would like to know how you screen your translators for quality and what QA process you use on all your projects.

It’s a rather complex process, but in short, I look at CVs and stuff like that, choose at least three people who seem good, and use them to assess translation samples. I put the assessments in an Excel grid, analyse them, find translators who were consistently assessed as very good quality, and then ask them to assess the translation samples. In the end I may have 6 or more assessors, and this develops over time. I cross reference the assessments and this way I can see who is a good assessor and who is biased, or not good. The above is more for when I enter a new language combination. The more quality opinions I get the better. I do not trust simple CVs or references and the sort. These can be easily fabricated. 

I see that you require TMs, which is excellent. Is Transit the only one you use?

I prefer Transit because my translators do not have to buy anything, and hence I am not limiting myself to fewer or more expensive translators. In the process of activating Trados at the moment. I also have Wordfast, but I have extensive experience with Transit and believe it is the most powerful tool. 

Also, what currency do you use? I noticed Euros on your site. Do you work in US cents as well?

I have bank accounts on several continents and can accept payment by PayPal, Moneybookers and other means. Payment in different currencies is definitely not a problem. 

Okay, nice talkin to ya!

translation CV campaign