Nov 152010

Offer by email to renew McAfee subscription…

That’s one copy on one machine for £40

On Amazon you get a lot more for a lot less…

Three copies on three machines for £24 (and I bought the same thing last week for £15). Now I understand special offers, and Amazon does have some mad special offers from time to time. But I wouldn’t normally expect to see an 8-fold differential in prices. 😯 Of course you wouldn’t see an 8-fold difference unless you actually had 3 machines to install it on, but we do.

Just goes to show. It pays to shop around for software. :yes:

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…
[stream provider=youtube flv=http%3A// img=x:/ embed=false share=false width=550 height=310 dock=true controlbar=over bandwidth=high autostart=false /]

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 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 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 (Blueberry Hill, Bluehill, 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: “ Corp.” To: “ Corp.” Subject: Domain migration from 4Domains to Corp.
Dear new customer,
In accordance with a recent ICANN decision, your domain/s has/have been transferred from 4Domains to 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 Corp. ­ ICANN Registrar

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

I have (had?) a domain, virtual server and VDNS server with 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 (DS Technologies).
You Will Continue to Manage Your Accounts as you have the past couple of Months at: or You Can login from our website at 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   For additional Information Please go here:
We Welcome You To 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 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, 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

Sep 142010

Will Computers Replace Translators? tranfree 73


I received some feedback about last month’s “email reliance” article. Some good points were raised, so I thought I’d share them.

  • Skype and Yahoo Messenger can be used for direct peer to peer file sharing. This is a useful backup if email systems are misbehaving.
  • Sites like can also be used for delivery of large files.

Thanks to Marie-Hélène Hayles for raising these points. smile

Touch Typing

I’ve been helping my son to learn to touch type over the summer. He’s 8 now and I felt it a good idea for him to learn properly now before he learns, the “wrong” way. It’s been hard work, but worth it. He’s now the proud owner of an Acer ONE netbook.

I also got interested in the idea of touch typing and I went through the program as well ( I’ve managed to get myself up to 23 words per minute and 98% accuracy. But it still feels really slow. So, for a bit of fun, I decided to do the speed test my “normal” way.

I was a bit blown away by the results. I managed 82 words per minute and 99% accuracy typing my way, using about three fingers on each hand. I didn’t know I could type that fast. To be honest, it makes me wonder whether it’s actually worth persisting with the touch typing? I don’t really feel like giving up, but that’s a short-term potential productivity cut of over 75%. 82 words per minute is good enough for most applications. But it would be nice to be able to type that fast without looking – and that’s why I hope to persist.

I hope you enjoy and benefit from tranfree smile


Alex Eames
tranfree editor, Author –
How to Earn $80,000+ per Year as a Freelance Translator and
Selling Your Professional Services on the Web

Will Computers Replace Translators?

By Alex Eames

It seems that, every year, our lives become increasingly enmeshed with our computers. Unless we rebel by going to live in a swamp somewhere with no electricity, that looks set to increase rather than decrease.

Last week I renewed our house insurance policy. One of the items covered in the accidental damage section was £2500 GBP worth of electronic downloads – that’s a sign of the times.

After my brief review of GT4T in the last tranfree, it seems clear that some translators feel threatened by the existence of free machine translation (MT) in the form of Google Translate.

Computers Acting Up?

It looks as if professionals in other areas are also feeling threatened by the ever-increasing proliferation of advanced computer software. A recent BBC article about animation and motion capture (a way of recording and simulating human and animal movement) had this to say…

“Some of the biggest movies of the last few years haven’t
actually featured any actors in the flesh.
Is technology stealing their limelight?”

Having said that the results of computerised motion capture are not good enough, the technical director of DreamWorks said…

“You want expressiveness, you don’t want
literal translation. It’s come a long way but in terms of using it for animated films it’s not what we’re looking for.”

And this gives a very interesting parallel with human versus machine translation. In the main, the results of MT simply aren’t good enough.

Human Threats?

We are living in interesting times. Virtually everyone has a computer and access to the internet. Add to that the fact that many people find themselves out of work in these economically challenging times of the “post greed” era. It’s not surprising that many people with language skills hit upon the idea of earning some money doing translations. So there are more human providers entering the marketplace.

Add in the global economic squeeze and you find companies trying to minimise costs, either to stay in business or make (more) profit.

So it’s hardly surprising that some companies might be sorely tempted to cut their short-term costs by using Google Translate. It’s human nature. They will try this. And let’s be honest with ourselves, for some applications, it is perfectly appropriate. Human translation is expensive – that’s the point of after all – to help you juice the full worth out of your translation skills. You can’t have it both ways. You want human translation to be expensive!

MT Has Its Place.

Some of you may not like this, but machine translation definitely has a place in the mix.

MT might be useful for assessing which portions of a large document need translating properly, or for getting the gist of what’s written. But unless the documentation has been written for MT in the first place, it’s unlikely to be usable for any other purpose.

But now for the good news. I hope you’re listening…

The kind of clients who would be looking at cost cutting in this way are not the kind of clients who would want to pay you decent rates, on time, and treat you well. Yes. These are not the clients you want. So don’t worry about the lost opportunity. Just as you can’t compete with 2 cent per word translators in low wage economies, you can’t compete with MT either. So don’t even try. Forget about that market segment and concentrate on clawing your way up to the top end.

You Don’t Want To Work For Idiots Do You?

I remember when I was an employee. It didn’t suit me at all. The boss was an idiot. I realised that the only (legal) way to eliminate the idiot was to become my own boss. People who want free or cheap translations of important documents using MT are idiots. You don’t want to work for them. They see you as an over-expensive bilingual typist. So, if you don’t want those kind of clients anyway, why is Google Translate a threat? Put simply, I don’t really think it is. It’s in your head. In the long term, I expect it will generate even more work for human translators.

Worthwhile Clients

At university, one of my roommates was studying marketing, which I found much more interesting than analytical chemistry. I remember commenting on a TV advertisement – saying how unappealing I thought it was. My roommate’s reply was a bit of a revelation…

“It probably wasn’t designed to appeal to you.”

…and this is a mistake many people make. Not every potential client is a client worth having. Some clients will not be profitable. Some will. Which do you want? The ones who will value your services, or the others?

So we have a few challenges in the global translation market…

  • Increasing numbers of “wannabe” translators
  • MT causing a decrease in the perceived value of translation
  • Economic squeeze causing a “get it done cheaper” mentality

So What’s To Be Done?

What can you do about it? Actually, I think there’s very little you can do about this apart from focus on your own area. But here’s a few suggestions…

  • Only accept profitable work
  • Educate clients and potential clients, but be discerning how much time you spend on this
  • Look at market trends, but don’t obsess about them.

You don’t need the whole global translation market to grow and thrive.
You only need your business to grow and thrive. (Although it will obviously be easier in a buoyant market.)

That reminds me of the two guys in the bear forest. One says to the other…

“Can you run faster than a bear?”

The other guy pauses for thought and replies…

“I don’t need to run faster than a bear.
I only need to run faster than YOU!”

Terminator Scenario

Avatar was one of the films (mentioned in the BBC article) that didn’t use actors “in the flesh” on screen. So it’s ironic that another James Cameron film – The Terminator –  paints an apocalyptic picture of a time when the computers take over and see humans as a threat. That’s a long way off. But let’s keep a cautious eye on what they’re doing without wasting  too much time watching our backs.

So let’s look forwards, get out there, find some real clients with real business needs and meet them.

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
ISSN 1470-3866

***End of issue 73***

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