Oct 312010

At the end of last week, LionBridge sent out an email to their “vendors” (freelance translators) demanding a 5% discount because of the economic climate and currency problems. It hasn’t taken long for people to comment in the blogosphere. Translators are understandably annoyed about this behaviour.

We’ve never been on the books of LionBridge as a vendor, but have received this kind of email from other large translation agencies in the past. What seems to have got on people’s goats about this particular email is…

  1. blatant inaccuracies in the claimed reasons for the demand
  2. the fact that LionBridge has recently reported record quarterly profits

Oops. Not very diplomatic corporate communications there. :no:

So, if the economic situation is still going down the tubes, why is there growth being reported in Europe and the US? If the dollar has depreciated by about 3% against the Euro in October, why does the email say it has gone down by 5%? (You could argue that profit is retrospective and they are projecting forwards, but it doesn’t really wash – I’m just playing attorney-at-law-to-the-fallen-angel :devil: here).

But even disregarding these inaccuracies, the point remains that, as a client, you can request a discount, but vendors are free to say NO. And in this case, I hope they do. Just say no to thugs!

Reference blog link 1
Reference blog link 2
Reference blog link 3 (includes full text of email)

If you haven’t seen this video yet, you’ve got to watch it. It’s really funny…
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Oct 272010

Whilst it may seem a little unkind to tear into someone’s marketing efforts, this email, which I received this morning, is rather poor. For a company that claims localization skills and works with Fortune 500 companies, you would have thought they could afford to get a native to look over their marketing emails. Even a spell-checker would have spotted the two typos. That’s inexcusable!

Relative Director?
Interrpreting? (looked like interrupting on first read) 😀

No, sorry. :no: School report says “Could do better”. Also, all the weird characters you can see in the quoted email appeared in the original. Would you hire these guys? :clown:

Whilst I realise that their English is a lot better than my Chinese, I would hasten to point out that I am not asking them for work. If I was, I think I’d do the smart thing and hire a native.

Dear Relative Director,

Thank you for taking the time to read my email.

My name is XXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXX, I am writing you to introduce Translation and Localization services.

Our company is a professional localization service provider with 15 years experience, an ISO 9001 certified company. Our clients include world famous Fortune 500 companies such as IBM, GE, NCR, Nokia, and more. We can offer translation services in 60+ languages, and DTP services in 80+ languages. We are the members of GALA & TAC for many years.

Our major services include the following:

� Docuument translation: technical and marketing material, brochure, flyer, manual, etc

�& Software and Website localization: Software GUI, OnlineHelp and Documentation.

� Multilingual Desktop Publishing: Support Quark Xpress, InDesign, Illustrator and more than 60 languages.

� Interrpreting: Mandarin interpreting services in China and UK.

� Voice-Over : localization process of voice and text information in audio and video files.

� p; Training: Translation CAT tools training, DTP tools training, Chinese training

We have very good experience in various translation and localization projects, some of our project examples can be found from here:

(link removed for anonymity)

We guarantee to provide quality, fast and cost-effective services. If any requirements or enquires, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thanks & best regards,

Oct 232010

I had a need to be able to remove accented characters from a string in order to be able to make order ID codes which will work properly as filenames in a unix system.

Now, strictly speaking, the unix system has no problem with accented characters in filenames. The problem arises when you try to use them in browsers as GET arguments at the end of the URL. e.g. http://tranfree.com/blah?6672837áàß

My old WS-FTP software copes with these as filenames. My newer SSH software doesn’t – can’t see them, can’t delete them, just can’t cope with them at all. :no:

But the biggest problem of all is that when I give clients their download URLs, if their surname had accented (diacritics) in, their downloads usually wouldn’t work because of the way their browser or email client translates the url. Perhaps it’s a unicode thing? Who knows/cares?

Well, having spent a large part of the day failing to install a PERL module called TEXT::UNIDECODE, which is meant to be a red hot fix for this issue, I hit upon an incredibly simple way of getting the job done. In fact, using PERL pattern matching and substitution, you can get the whole job done very elegantly in one line of code. And it is indeed a beautiful line of code. :-*

$surname =~s/[^A-Za-z0-9]//g;

Which translates into English as. “If any character in this surname is not A-Z, a-z or 0-9, substitute it for nothing. This should make the system more robust, avoiding disappointed clients and extra product support emails. :yes:

That’s what you get when you write your own systems. You get the good and the bad. Still it was very nice to get a working solution in just one line of code (if you discount the lines above it that substitute á for a and a lot of others manually, so the surname reads OK in the order ID – it also prevents Mr áàßáàßáàßáàß from having a blank at the end of his OID :clap: ).

I was so pleased I blogged it.

Oct 192010

Fed up of staring at your screen? Listen to tranfree 74

tranfree 74 – Business Success for Freelance Translators

You can also download this edition of tranfree 74 as a PDF


Since the last edition I’ve been very focussed on a “top secret” winkproject. Now it’s completed, I’ll tell you a bit more about that in the first article.

The second article in this edition is a review of the recent online virtual conference for translators that ProZ arranged. It was a lot of fun and very worthwhile. I recommend you “attend” the next one.

I hope you enjoy and benefit from tranfree smile


Alex Eames

tranfree editor, Author –

Business Success For Freelance Translators,

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

Selling Your Professional Services on the Web.

Business Success for Freelance Translators

By Alex Eames

This week sees the launch of my new eBook…

business success for freelance translators, by Alex Eames

Business Success For Freelance Translators

This is a complete update of my previous “How to Earn” eBook. I have ripped out outdated sections and written a lot of new material as well. I’ve even given it a new title, which is a lot less controversial than the old one, and better reflects the content of the eBook.

Thank You Beta Readers

I’d like to say a big thank you to those who gave me feedback and comments at the Beta stage. I name names on the acknowledgements page. But I won’t do so here as I haven’t asked permission to use names in this way.

Ridiculous Launch Offer

I am launching this ebook with a crazy special offer. The first 200 buyers will get a free copy of Selling Your Professional Services on the Web, which sells separately for almost twice the price of Business Success For Freelance Translators. (I told you it was crazy. excited)

Buyers will also qualify for an exclusive 25% discount on AIT Software products (Translation Office 3000, AnyCount and a whole host of others).

First Review Out Already

Sergey Rybkin was incredibly quick off the mark. I tweeted about Business Success For Freelance Translators on Friday afternoon (just after finishing the website). He’d bought, read and reviewed it on his blog by Saturday. Now that’s quick! One of the comments he made was…

“There are a few new ideas, but they are of great worth. For example, how NOT to set your rates, how to cope with isolation, how to get the life balance right, how to use the job portals and others.”

Free Update for 2009-10 buyers

If you bought “How to Earn” in 2009 or 2010, you qualify to get this ebook free of charge (without the crazy launch bonus).

I will be sending out an email to all these ebook buyers with details of how to get hold of the new ebook. (Hopefully towards the end of this week. I need to write a PERL script to make this possible.) If your email address has changed since you bought “How to Earn”, please send me your new data.


This is our first new product launch since 2004. I’m really excited about it, which is probably why I’m giving away such a crazy launch offer to the first 200 buyers.

Come and have a look at…


In the other half of this tranfree edition I published the review of the Proz.com translation3 virtual conference. Since this has already been blogged, I won’t repeat it, but link to it here instead.

Oct 152010

I’ve just finished the “back-end” work for my latest eBook launch.

Business Success for Freelance Translators

Business Success for Freelance Translators

Finally got the system sorted out. It’s been a bit of a slog, but quite exhilarating to get so much done in the last couple of weeks.
OK, so I choose to do self-publishing the hard way, by doing absolutely everything myself, but that’s just the way I like it. And anyway, since I acquired all the programming skills in the late 90’s, it seems silly to give away a large share of the benefits to a firm like lulu when I can do it all myself. 🙂 I would use them if I ever publish a printed book though.

Oh, it’s our 17th wedding anniversary today, so it’s nice to have the system up and running before we go out to lunch to celebrate.

Oct 132010

Just putting the finishing touches on a new publication due out next week. I’ve got to the stage of needing to package the download files into a self-extracting .exe file. In the past I’ve always used WinZip Self-Extractor, and the old faithful (paid for version) has served me well.

I installed it on my Windows 7 machine, but it doesn’t work properly (they don’t make ’em like they used to 😉 ). OK, it’s a 9 year old version, so it’s hardly surprising. I checked out the WinZip site and a much more up to date version is available, but it’s about £40. Not a huge amount, but before coughing up I decided to check what else might be out there that could do the job. I was vaguely hoping there might be some freeware out there that could do this by now, since .Zip functionality is pretty much incorporated into Windows these days. 😎

It just so happens, there is. :laugh: I found a nice little app called ZIP 2 Secure which does quite a nice job of it. :yes: It also offers 256 bit AES encryption :yes:
And the price is the best part of all. 😀

Update: 17 October 2010
Just a quick update to say that, this software behaves a little bit strangely in Windows 7 pro. Although it packages up the .exe files beautifully, it seems that, on my computer at least, you have to reinstall it each time you run it. Not a major issue, since it’s very quick. Also I have very occasional need for creating .exe files. If I used it every day this would be annoying. Mind you, if I used it every day, I’d probably stump up the £40 for the WinZip .exe file maker, which offers slightly more functionality. For a free download though, you can’t really go wrong with Zip 2 Secure.

Oct 072010

On 30th September, ICANN pulled the plug on domain registrar 4domains.com (Blueberry Hill, Bluehill, 4servers.com) as they are insolvent. They owe ICANN $6k.

I got an email from the registrar that is taking over their domains on Tuesday 5th Oct.

From: “Internet.bs Corp.” To: “Internet.bs Corp.” Subject: Domain migration from 4Domains to Internet.bs Corp.
Dear new customer,
In accordance with a recent ICANN decision, your domain/s has/have been transferred from 4Domains to Internet.bs Corp.
For further details please refer to:
Welcome aboard and thanks for giving us the opportunity to serve your business!
PS: you might receive the same notification twice as we are purposely sending it from two separate locations in order to make sure you receive it.
Regards, Marco Rinaudo ­ CEO Internet.bs Corp. ­ ICANN Registrar http://www.internet.bs

This was the first I’d heard of it and I was suspicious, so I googled around to see what might be happening. I found this blog entry and it started to look like the real deal.

There’s also this PDF on the ICANN website itself, which is the notice of termination to 4domains.com

I have (had?) a domain, virtual server and VDNS server with 4domains.com. I noticed the billing details changed for the servers a couple of months ago and wondered what was up.

Anyway after a couple of days it seems that the servers are now managed by another company called hostingpen. I got an email from them last night…

>To: Mr Alex Eames
Subject: Your 4Domains Hosting Account
From: HostingPen Admin
Dear Mr Alex Eames,
As of Oct 6, 2010 Your 4Domains Web hosting Services are now under the management of HostingPen.com (DS Technologies).
You Will Continue to Manage Your Accounts as you have the past couple of Months at: http://myaccountmanage.net/clientarea.php or You Can login from our website at www.hostingpen.com by clicking on any of the My Account or Login Links. This Transition DOE NOT involve any additional Migrations of your servers or websites.
If You Have any questions Regarding your Domain Name Registrations or your 4Domains Backroom please DO Not Contact us.. You MUST Contact the gaining registrar internetbs.net   For additional Information Please go here: http://internetbs.net/4Domains.html
We Welcome You To HostingPen.com and We Look Forward to providing your Web Hosting services.
Thank You
DS Technologies

I logged into the hostingpen site and was able to see my VDNS control panel (although the data was about 48 hours old – coincidentally I made a change in the 4domains control panel on Monday night, just before they took the site offline, and that wasn’t reflected in the new control panel).

It’s all very alarming, and at a time when I’m busy trying to get a new ebook launched. Hopefully nothing will be shut down in a hurry. But it’s been an uncomfortable period of uncertainty for those with large numbers of domains and servers at 4domains.

I’m hoping this article will be able to help out anyone who finds themselves “out of the loop” with regard to the email correspondance from the two companies taking over the “assets” of 4domains. I’d been with 4domains for >10 years. I’d already bought a new dedicated server recently in the UK with the idea of transferring all my sites onto it to consolidate and save a wodge of cash. Now I’ve got the incentive to get on with that and make it work. :-))

Oct 062010

I had a fairly scary experience yesterday when I was making a new index for the latest version of my ebook Business Success for Freelance Translators (the new title for How To Earn $80,000+ per year as a Freelance Translator.) Basically what happened was, after updating the index with the new concordance file, some of the links in the book were mangled.

And after generating a PDF of the text, the original Word file could no longer be opened. 😥

“Eek.” 😮 I hear you say. All that work lost? Well not quite. Only about an hour’s work lost actually. I’ve been using computers for over 30 years and I don’t really trust them an inch. So when I’m working on something really important I usually save a new version of the file every time I make substantial changes (say more than an hour or two of work). Consequently, I had a version of the file that had been spell-checked, but not paginated or indexed. So all I had to do was repaginate, save the file as a new version and then do the indexing again.

Once indexed, and saved, the file wouldn’t open. :teeth: No problem. Back to the spell-checked and paginated version. I found a macro to strip out all the previous index entry codes, applied this, made a new index from scratch, saved the file, made a PDF version et voila. PDF version is fine, but the indexed file still will not open in Word 2007.

I’ve got no idea why this is, and it’s not the end of the world, but it is a bit of a nuisance. Perhaps it’s something to do with it being a legacy file that’s been updated and updated since the orginial version in 1998 through various different versions of Word (including Mac versions from my US editor).

It doesn’t really matter. No significant amount of work has been lost, and I got to my destination (a publishable PDF). But it was a bit scary for a while, until I thankfully realised I had oodles of older versions to go back to.

Computers are great, but don’t trust them an inch when it comes to valuable work.

Oct 012010

ProZ Virtual Conference

I celebrated International Translators’ Day (September 30th) by visiting the Proz virtual conference called – translation3.


There were 9,900 registrants and just over half of them showed up for some of the day. I signed up last year and didn’t manage to take part because I was ill on the day, so I was determined to have a look this year.

This virtual conference is free to the end user. That is to say, you do have to agree to receive some emails from the sponsors during the year, but it’s a relatively small price to pay compared with what’s on offer.

In general the conference went pretty well. There were a couple of minor technical issues from time to time, (mostly speakers on panel discussions not setting their sound levels appropriately).

I ended up missing the first session (problem between keyboard and seat) because I clicked the wrong link and ended up watching Henry’s (interesting) presentation on the next 3-5 years. I clicked the “on-demand” link instead of the live content link. Clearly it wasn’t quite idiot-proof. (Did I just call myself an idiot? Is that good marketing? You’ll have to forgive me, I’ve had a head-cold this week)

Overall I attended 3 full sessions and “popped in” on a couple of others for short periods. Each one I looked in on had around 1000 attendees. Very few complained of technical issues, so I think the system was generally pretty robust.

One feature of the system was a real time chat window, which allowed people to ask questions and interact during panel discussions and talks.

I was quite surprised at the enormous level of stupid comments in the chat window. Some of them were very funny though. Perhaps a bit of moderation would be appropriate? Or maybe it’s just a part of the flavour of an online conference, where you can’t get physically lynched for saying something rude? Or perhaps it stops the panellists taking themselves too seriously? It’s a tough call to make.

There was also quite a lot of promotional plugging by Proz itself in this area – mostly pushing their online training courses. Some of the sarcastic comments were hilarious, but if I had been a panellist, I doubt I would have been blessed or impressed by them.

One or two panellists were difficult to understand because of very strong accents or incorrect microphone settings. That’s one possible area where a small tweak could have a big impact. Most people could be heard and understood pretty well most of the time.

It was the same for the content. Most of the people taking part were good and competent. With one or two, I wondered what they were doing there but most of them were very good.

There was also quite a lot of “on demand” content. I haven’t yet finished going through the sessions that interest me there. Some of them are pretty good. Although some do have rather poor sound quality (uncomfortable to listen to). I aborted one or two “on demand” sessions because my ears wouldn’t allow me to listen to the rasping noise of sound which has been downsampled too much. (It’s either that or poor quality recording in the first place – hard to forgive either way.)

I hope the sound quality for the paid-for training courses on Proz is of a generally higher standard.

There were other conference areas with prize draws and promotions. Some of the major translation memory packages were available for purchase at 50% discount.

There was an area to interact with other translators and also some online Pow-Wows.

There was an awful lot to offer and I’m glad I took part. I think it will probably be an annual thing now, so I recommend you stop by next year and check it out. It was fun.

Alex Eames is the founder of translatortips.com, 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