Aug 202010

Seriously chuffed with the solution to the HDD clicking issue. I felt like I was on a bit of a roll. So I thought…

“I wonder if I can solve the problem of the manic menus when the computer is tilted?”

…What? I hear you say. Well it’s the wierdest thing. Occasionally, I like to use my laptop lying down, either in bed or on a sofa. Sometimes if I have a document to read, I like to do it lying down. Sometimes I like to watch a video clip in bed. Well with this laptop, when I tilt it, the menus go crazy. For example, Firefox will work fine, but as soon as I try to use a menu, it’s as if the cursor buttons are held down and the “selected” menu item keeps moving from one to the next. It only stops when the laptop is moved back to level position. The best way for you to see it is on a video clip. So here you go…

[webplayer id=2]

I used to think is was an issue with the touchpad. But I found out it’s something else entirely. There are some very clever people out there in cyberspace, and if you will only wait several months, before long, someone else will come up with the same problem and publish a solution. As it happens, this is what occurred here. Just in case that link disappears, the text is here…

I have a Studio 1557 core i7 laptop, which started to exhibit strange behaviour when the laptop was tilted in any direction other than level. When tilted windows (v7 64bit) would automatically switch between menu options and tabs with no user input. After going through a lengthy diagnostics session, I identified an issue with windows update installing the wrong driver for the ST Micro Accelerometer. Windows update identifies the device as an ST Micro ScreenDetection Sensor. If this driver is installed, Dell’s FreeFall application (HDD shock protection) no longer functions, and windows goes ‘wonky’ if the laptop is tilted.

Because the hardware is buried in amongst the Systems Devices section of the device manager, some people may not even know they have an issue.

To confirm if windows update has already installed the wrong driver, you can either :-

a) launch Device manager, expand System Devices and check to see if you have ‘ST Micro ScreenDetection Sensor’ listed (‘ST Micro Accelerometer’ is correct).

b) launch control panel, and select FreeFall Data Protection. If the application fails to launch or you get an error, then its likely the wrong driver is installed.

Now, when I bought my Dell Studio 1557, I didn’t go for the upgraded freefall HDD, so it would never have occured to me that my pc has a freefall sensor onboard. But it does. Not only that, but it appears that Windows 7 “updated” the driver on a windows update and that has caused this issue. If I uninstall ‘ST Micro ScreenDetection Sensor’ drivers, the problem ceases.

I tried installing the proper drivers for this accelerometer, but it gave an error message every time I boot up (which is more annoying than having to occasionally uninstall the drivers, which reinstall themselves when you reboot). So if I want to read lying down, all I have to do is uninstall the ‘ST Micro ScreenDetection Sensor’ drivers and then it works normally. I could delete the drivers permanently, and if I need to, I will. But for the moment I don’t feel the need.

Hey – I think, after 10 months I’ve finally got this laptop working the way it should. 😀

Update: I ended up permanently deleting the driver and the error message came back, so this morning I installed the driver from the Dell site. Let you know how it goes next time I reboot.

Aug 192010

Hurrah, Hallelujah esplendidos. 😀

I have finally resolved (I think) an issue I’ve had intermittently since I bought my Dell Studio 1557 in November 2009.

Hard Disk Clicking and beeping in a disturbing manner.

Every once in a while (seemed to be worse in hot weather) the Hard disk would make a clicking noise accompanied by a beep from the system (like the beeps you get at startup). If you’ve ever had a hard disk crash, you’ll know the clicking sound. And it is a sound that makes you think your hard disk is going to crash – which instills fear into the heart.

You may remember in May I discovered the cause of the DVD drive not working well. Well this HDD noise was the next niggly issue. It hasn’t stopped me from doing anything, but it has made me fearful for the life of my HDD.

This week I happened across this forum thread which has 157 pages of chatter about the Studio 1557. It also gives insight into some of the problems people have had with them. Some a lot worse than mine.

Although I didn’t specifically find the noisy HDD issue solution there (I didn’t read the whole thread – it must be there somewhere) a few people made remarks about it, which made me search for a solution. The solution was buried in the drivers update page of the dell web site. Basically, it’s a known issue with a certain batch of Seagate HDDs. All you have to do is update the HDD firmware.

Firmware 4SDM1 or 5SDM1 fixes clicking noise on Seagate 2.5″ 7200RPM HDD’s Model #’s:

160G – ST9160412AS DP/N J423T
250G – ST9250410AS DP/N K556T
320G – ST9320423AS DP/N F729T
500G – ST9500420AS DP/N G629T

So that involved

  1. Backing up some vital data in case the update failed
  2. Downloading a boot disc image file for the update.
  3. Burning a CD of the disc image (in Win 7, right click the iso file and choose “burn disc image” )
  4. Rebooting and pressing F2 to go into setup to change the boot sequence so I could boot from CD
  5. Booting from the CD and letting it do its stuff, (<1 minute)
  6. Removing CD
  7. Switch off PC and switch on again
  8. Rebooting again after Win 7 asks you to

And here we are, next day and I have yet to hear the horribly nasty sound that makes me think my Hard drive is about to crash. I think it’s worked. Hurrah, Hallelujah esplendidos. 😀

I don’t know if it’s my imagination, but the computer seems to be running slightly cooler as well.

Aug 152010

Just back from Perkowo from a short stay by the lake. I noticed what I thought was a new species (to me) of butterfly. So I merrily clicked away. Didn’t take a computer, so it wasn’t until this afternoon, when we got back, that I realised for sure that it was actually two species. Both are fritillaries and they do both look similar-ish – although even on my 1 inch camera screen I could see there was a difference in wing shape. I only got one three minute opportunity with the Cranberry fritillary. The shots are not as sharp as I would like, but they’re enough for a positive ID. The Cranberry fritillary is on the list of protected species in Poland. The place we were staying is in a national park area.

Cranberry Fritillary - Boloria aquilonaris

Cranberry Fritillary – Boloria aquilonaris

Queen of Spain Fritillary - Issoria lathonia

Queen of Spain Fritillary – Issoria lathonia

Queen of Spain Fritillary - Issoria lathonia

Queen of Spain Fritillary – Issoria lathonia

Aug 102010

Testing out GT4T

By Alex Eames

GT4T stands for Google Translate for Translators. It’s a neat little software application written by English to Chinese translator Dallas Cao. Dallas has also assisted Wenjer Leuschel with some translation of the last few tranfree editions into Chinese.

Two things are under test here.

1. How well the program itself works
2. How well Google Translate works

The download is only 741 kb from here…

It installed fine in Windows 7. I opted for the pro version, which works in all programs. It is “nagware”, which means after the first 100 uses, it will periodically ask you to register ($48 Pro version, $28 Word version) but will still continue to function if you don’t.

The only issue I had with it was that, once installed, when I tried to run it from the start menu, it was already active. What I should have done was click on the clover icon in the system tray to set up the language pair and settings. (Within a few hours of sending a preview of this review, Dallas has updated the installer to give you a choice whether or not to launch the program after installing.)

So, once I’d set it to English-Polish and unchecked the “Load on Windows Startup” box, I did a quick test.

In Firefox’s built-in search box, I keyed in “weather in lodz”, selected it and hit CTRL-J. It instantly substituted “Pogoda w Łodzi”. Good result! (Also note it corrected the capitalization smile)

Butterfly Names?

So far, so good. I’ve been photographing butterflies recently and am interested in furthering my knowledge of their Polish names. So how does it cope with “red admiral”? Not very well, as it happens. This is an issue with Google Translate, not GT4T. This time, testing from Word 2007, it instantly returned “Czerwony admiral”. It completely ignored “admiral” and left it in English. The Polish for red is “czerwony” and admiral is “admirał. Sending the word admiral on its own works correctly though.

The correct Polish term for a Red admiral butterfly is “Rusałka admirał”. In Latin it’s Vanessa atalanta. How does it cope with Latin?

Oh, it doesn’t do Latin. That’s a shame (although perhaps not as commercially valuable as living languages).

GT4T is still working perfectly and Google is highlighting the pitfalls of machine translation (MT). I’d thought common butterfly names might be in the database, but no.

So I then wondered what would happen if I punched in “Vanessa atalanta” (as if it were in English) and tried to translate that into Polish. It came back with “Rusałka admirał” whahay – it worked smile into Polish, but not into English frown.

Hmmm – so Google does have some Latin text in the database, somewhere, but just won’t admit it razz.

Now Let’s Try To Break It

Looking for trouble, I tried it in Eudora when typing an email. GT4T doesn’t work very well in Eudora – returning a bunch of HTML text (but does work properly in the email subject line).

You can redefine the hotkeys in GT4T to make them compatible with any applications you use. Since CTRL-J is used for junking an email in Eudora, I thought that might be the issue, so I changed the hotkey. It still didn’t help.

No matter. It’s doubtful I would ever want to use GT4T in Eudora anyway, I just wanted to test a few different applications to see what would happen.


Overall, I am impressed with GT4T. It’s such a simple little tool, but gives you quick and easy access to a large online multilingual dictionary, with one key press, from any application. And it works without slowing down the computer or taking up lots of system resources. I suggest you give it a try and see if it suits you.


... ...

Alex Eames is the founder of, editor of tranfree and author of the eBooks…

How to Earn $80,000+ Per Year as a
Freelance Translator

Selling Your Professional Services on the Web

... ...

Aug 102010

Fed up of staring at your screen? Listen to tranfree 72

tranfree 72 – Email Over-reliance & GT4T

You can also download this edition of tranfree 72 as a PDF


Taking advantage of the long school holiday and the “freelance factor,” we’re currently in sunny Poland.

I was in full “work flow” when we got here, but when the temperature hit 38 degrees C, I took a break for a couple of weeks. During this time, I tried to get out photographing insects, which is a particular interest of mine at the moment.

Butterflies, damselflies and dragonflies are all quite difficult to get close to, unless approached slowly and stealthily. Once you get close, as long as you make no silly sudden movements, you have a good window of opportunity to “get your shots”.

“So what?” I hear you say. “What’s this got to do with translation?”
Well, clients can be a bit like butterflies. You have to approach them on their terms. You have to earn their trust. You have to avoid sudden silly “movements” or they can beat their wings and you’ll never see them again. But if you manage all that, the results can be quite beautiful.

You can see some of the results in the photography section of my blog.

But here’s just one where I got very close to a young Red admiral

Red admiral – Vanessa atalanta
(click image for enlargement)

I hope you enjoy and benefit from tranfree smile


Are We Relying Too Much On Email

By Alex Eames

I think we might be. I bet most of you use email to send and receive work files most of the time. And most of the time, it probably works just fine.

But every once in a while an email does go missing. I used to advocate sending a quick fax over to the client to let them know when you’ve emailed a file across. But hardly anybody uses fax nowadays – we cancelled our fax line about three years ago because nobody had sent us a fax for a couple of years.

This helpful little method overcame the problem of undelivered emails. If the client knew the email had been sent, they could chase it up if it didn’t arrive within a short space of time.

But with fax technology’s fall from grace, and apparently increasingly reliable email systems, this became unnecessary…

…or so we thought.


Email is not 100% reliable.

The truth is that email has never been, and never will be, 100% reliable. Spam filters, system glitches and crashes, viruses, malware etc. all contribute towards making life increasingly difficult for emails to get through. It’s actually amazing that the systems work as well as they do.

A couple of months ago we submitted a job file by email on a Monday evening because we were going to be unavailable on Tuesday. Imagine our surprise when we returned on Tuesday afternoon to a voicemail message asking “how are you getting on with the file?” OUCH! An email delivery issue. Worse still, once the docx file was received it couldn’t be opened, so another round of communication was required. We ended up downsaving it to Word 2003/97, which could be opened by the client.

How do you get around this reliability issue? I doubt if project managers (PMs) want to be texted to their mobile phones.

Some clients use ftp based systems to get around this, but that sort of setup may not be appropriate for small clients. If it’s a regular problem for you, you might consider something like as an integrated solution.

Should we just wait for PMs to chase us if the files don’t arrive in time? Should we get the fax machine out of the attic and revert to our old confirmation method? Or do we just accept, as the client calmly did in this case, that emails are not 100% reliable and live with it?


What about email security?

We don’t really want our clients’ confidential data being shared around the internet do we? We don’t want our own email accounts being hacked into do we?

If you have set up a new email account in the last couple of years, chances are it’s using SSL or TLS as standard (but it’s worth checking).

But if you’ve been in business for a while, what about that email account that you’ve been using for the last 10 years and haven’t changed because it’s become a part of your business brand?

Is it set up to use SSL or TLS security? If not, you will be transmitting your username and password in unencrypted plain text every time you log in.
The same goes for the full contents of your emails and attachments. If you’re not using SSL, TLS or some form of encryption, it’s possible to intercept your communications.

That’s a serious potential vulnerability. It’s worth checking all your email accounts to be sure. OK there’s a certain amount of safety in numbers because of the vast bulk of email traffic – the chances of your data being intercepted illegally are slim – but they do exist.

Even these measures only protect your data between your computer and the mail server. Between mail servers, your messages and attachments are not protected from snoopers unless you encrypt them. If you are dealing with highly sensitive, confidential information, you should seriously consider strong encryption software (e.g. to protect the data.

For a full-blown essay on the subject of email security see…


... ...

Alex Eames is the founder of, editor of tranfree and author of the eBooks…

How to Earn $80,000+ Per Year as a
Freelance Translator

Selling Your Professional Services on the Web

... ...


GT4T Review next

Aug 062010

After we came back from Krakow, Tomek and I went along to a local grassland area on the edge of the forest. We went there because we knew there were loads of Burnett moths. We took a few containers with us, but one of the coolest things we saw was a teeny blue butterfly. There were actually a couple of them, but we managed to sneak up on one after a couple of attempts and catch it in a container. So we took it home, fed it some sugar water and kept it inside for a couple of days, photographed it and released it. This one behaved very much like the speckled wood back at Eastertime and each time it was released from the box it went for the window.

So here’s a few shots of it. Bear in mind that it’s tiny. Wing span is about 15mm (3/5 inch). I’ve included the reflection shot because my dad likes reflections. Would have been better without double glazing though. 😥

Common blue - Polyommatus icarus

Common blue - Polyommatus icarus

Common blue - Polyommatus icarus

Common blue - Polyommatus icarus

Common blue - Polyommatus icarus

Common blue - Polyommatus icarus

Common blue - Polyommatus icarus

Common blue - Polyommatus icarus

Having been unable to get a good straight-on shot of a tortosieshell here in Poland, have a look at the underside instead.

Tortoiseshell - Aglais urticae

Tortoiseshell - Aglais urticae

Aug 052010

Not been much of note because I seem to have “nabbed” half-reasonable shots of most of the local native species. Two which have proven to be fairly elusive so far this year have been the Red admiral and the Cabbage white. The local Reds seem to not allow humans within 15 feet unless they’re feeding (the Reds, not the humans that is). And Cabbage whites are just so restless that they never seem to sit still long enough even for autofocus to work, let alone manual.

Remember I did manage to nab an underneath shot of a Red admiral before we went to Krakow. That one appeared very young and small. I think it grew a bit now and I managed to get another shot of it in the rotten fruit patch.

Red admiral, Vanessa atalanta

Red admiral, Vanessa atalanta

There’s another, larger one, that likes to hang out in the sunny corners of the garden. I managed to sneak up on that one as well today.

Red admiral, Vanessa atalanta

Red admiral, Vanessa atalanta

You can see the two are not the same one because the wing damage is different on each.

And just after doing that, I saw a couple of flashes of white on the apple tree. Two Cabbage whites courting, by the look of it. Well I managed three shots before I scared them off. 😀

Cabbage white, Pieris brassicae

Cabbage white, Pieris brassicae

I’ve also got a Common blue and a couple of interesting views of a small tortoiseshell to come. These were shote a few days ago but I’ve been trying to focus on other things this week. (Pun intended).