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

Jun 302010

Tools That Have Brought Smiles To My Face, Cheer To My Heart, And Success In The Mind-Over-Matter Department (in no particular order)

By Jost Zetzsche


I love Skype. It may not be the coolest thing to be in love with a wildly popular tool, but I can’t help myself. No tool has changed my work habits in the last few years more than this one.

Skype is primarily a VoIP (Voice-over-Internet-Protocol) service that allows you to make free calls from computer to computer if the person you are calling also has Skype installed. In addition, it allows you to make cheap calls to regular telephones, organize telephone conferences (free if everyone is using Skype, cheap if people are using telephones), send text messages, send large files, make video calls, or easily share your desktop.

True, there’s always a risk with programs like this that you’ll waste time by chatting too much with your friends, but for me Skype has been a real productivity catalyst. It’s so much easier to text message or call with Skype when you are working in teams, want to talk to a project manager, or do some consulting with a client. And because of the mind-blowing success of Skype, chances are that your colleagues and friends use Skype as well, thus circumventing the non-compatibility problems of other chat and VoIP programs.


IntelliWebSearch would probably be the winner of the popularity-among-translators award for the last few years.

This humble little application copies highlighted text from any Windows application with a number of user-definable shortcut keys; strips the text of paragraph marks, line breaks, or any customizable characters; opens your default browser and sends the copied text to up to 10 customizable search engines, online dictionaries, or dictionaries that you have installed on your hard drive. Once you have set up your search engines and dictionaries for your language combinations, it’s incredibly easy to use. I promise that your fingers will think in IntelliWebSearch terms from then on. (Mine automatically go Ctrl+Alt+D for the Duden dictionary that I have in my computer or Ctrl+Alt+D for the über-search engine/dictionary Linguee. I’m always terribly disappointed when I am doing something on someone else’s computer that may not have it installed.)

Teleport (or any other webspider)

Teleport is a website copier or webspider. While this is actually an “antique” tool from the early days of the Internet (people used it to download complete web sites so that they could browse them offline) it has proved very helpful for translators. It does what you would expect a “website copier” to do: it copies websites (including image or multimedia files). This is wonderful when we have to quote for the translation of complete websites. It’s important to remember to ask for the actual source files before the translation is started, but it is an invaluable tool for getting an overview of a website, including its file structure or files that you would surely miss if you were just to browse through the site or to make a word or image count.

Another very helpful use for this tool is when you need to align (convert separate source and target documents into a translation memory) data from websites. For instance, you can choose to download only PDF files in all the different available languages and then continue to align them on a site such as YouAlign or NoBabel.

PractiCount & Invoice (and most other word count programs)

Since we just talked about word counts, I would strongly advise you to invest in a word count tool. Without going into the whole complexity of word counts, here’s what I think you should look for: a tool that allows you to count in a variety of formats (including a minimum of all MS Office formats, PDFs, and tagged files) while using MS Word parameters without the MS Word problems. As most of us know, MS Word’s word counts are notorious for their problems. (In versions 2003 and before, text boxes, footnotes, and endnotes were not counted; some items, such as WordArt, are still not counted in the current versions.) However, chances are that your client will still use Word to count words and check your invoice. So the tool should use the same logic for counting words that Word does while including the parts that Word blithely ignores (which we have to explain to the client). I use PractiCount & Invoice for this task and love it, but there are a good number of other tools that do very similar things.

Translation Office 3000 (and any other invoicing and accounting program for freelance translators)

Everyone has strengths, and accounting is definitely not one of mine. So it’s not too surprising that I love the program that takes care of most of my invoicing and accounting, while at the same time requiring little more than the most basic data entry. Translation Office 3000 does all that, plus job-tracking, profitability reporting, and many other things. All this can also be done with various tools such as Excel, Outlook, and Project – but why spread yourself thin over three tools when you can do it with one?

Dragon NaturallySpeaking

I like to “think with my fingers” and I’ve become a reasonably good typist over the years, but I gotta tell you, if I’m under pressure to get a translation done on a crazy deadline, or if my medical condition keeps my hands from working the way I want them to, there’s nothing like speech recognition. Dragon NaturallySpeaking, now available in most major Western European languages and Japanese, is stunningly accurate, requires little or no training, runs well on computers with fast processors (no need for superfast processing), works with essentially every Windows program, including translation environment tools, and is surprisingly inexpensive. (Windows Vista and 7 also have an internal voice recognition feature for Chinese, Japanese, German, French, Spanish, and English; in my tests, these did not score much worse than Dragon.)

Translation Environment Tool (aka CAT tool)

Well, how could I leave this one out? Truth be told, my translation environment tool is by far the one tool that has given me the most joy during the past 10+ years. How else would I have accessed my translations and terminology that I stored last month, last year, or even five years ago for my project today? How else would I be able to work in virtually every file format without needing to become a master of each? And how else would I ensure that my translations are consistent, free of formatting and other errors, and adhere to my clients’ glossaries?

My main tool for many years has been Déjà Vu, but I have used many other tools in production situations, including Trados, SDLX, Transit, memoQ, Heartsome, Wordfast, Across, Lingotek, Multitrans, and others. I had good reasons for starting to use Déjà Vu in the first place, but I have come to the conclusion that it hardly matters which of the available tools you use as long as the tool can fulfill your client’s needs. It supports exchange formats such as TMX and XLIFF so you can access data that originated with other tools, and you can make the tool work for you, rather than feeling caught by the idiosyncrasies of the tool.

Jost Zetzsche is a freelance translator. He also publishes…

The Toolkit – A biweekly newsletter for people in the translation industry who want to get more out of their computers.

ISSN 1470-3866

***End of issue 71***

To subscribe to tranfree, visit

May 252010

The title says it all. I bought a new Dell Studio 1557 in November 2009. Lovely full HD WLED screen. Delighted with it. The only probem is (was) whenever I load up a DVD, after about a minute of playing, it starts juddering and the picture and sound go intermittent. I also had a problem burning a DVD recently when the same sort of thing happened.

I assumed it was a faulty DVD drive, but am very reluctant to return my machine as I use it for my business. I thought I’d see if anyone else on the web has had the same problem. And I’m glad I did. Several people have. In this thread, the problem is described and near the bottom, someone mentions that they tracked it down to the supplied Dell backup software (Dell Datasafe), which seems to poll the DVD drive every minute when a disk is loaded. So, as recommended, I fired up task manager (CTRL-ALT-DELETE) and killed the process STService.exe

Then I loaded up a DVD and watched it for about 10 minutes with no issues. Hallelujah 😀 It works just like it should.

So I celebrated that success by uninstalling Dell Datasafe to make it permanent. :X-P:

I just got back from school where I teach an ICT class. We watched a 40 minute DVD on this machine with no issues at all. Now it’s working how it should. I’m so pleased. 😀

May 202010

Well I recently bought this Canon Pixma MP640 and it prints photos beautifully. But the downside is that it takes 5 cartridges (ink tanks) and they cost about ten pounds each (a bit less if you shop around). Now I don’t want to have to restrict my printing out of photos because of overpriced ink (£2/ml – that’s more than most perfumes), so I have evaluated a couple of alternatives.

I did a bit of web research. Someone on one of the online forums I hang out on suggested a continuous ink system. That led me to City Ink Express. When I got there, I saw their refillable system and rather liked the look of it. They sell a kit which includes ink tanks with auto-reset chips, 100ml of each ink (FotoRite) and 5 syringes with blunt needles for tank filling. Instructions were good and there are even online videos to guide you through the process. I bought one. It cost me £50 + ~£5 postage and arrived promptly. As the original Canon cartridges ran out I replaced them with these.

City Ink Fotorite kit

City Ink Fotorite kit

This ink worked fine in routine document printing. Once I had replaced all except the Canon photo black (it still hasn’t run out) I printed a few test photos, duplicating ones I had already printed with the Canon ink. This was to make a direct comparison. Now I wasn’t expecting miracles, but I was looking for the holy grail of “cheap ink that is as near as possible to an exact match to the OEM Canon stuff”. (I don’t want much do I?) Here are the results…

Canon left, Fotorite right

Canon left, FotoRite right

Canon left, Fotorite right

As you can see if you look closely (click any image to enlarge it) the eagle has a bluish colour cast. The blue sky on the sunflower looks an odd colour and the Canon yellow is much more vibrant. The butterfly shot is a much closer call between the two, but if you look closely at the butterfly’s black body, the FotoRite ink gives a decidedly bluish cast. I did have a go at adjusting the photos’ colour balance to try and duplicate, but it was a bit hit or miss. I know you can buy a calibration kit and change the printer profiles – but who’s got time for that? No. I’d like to see if I can find an ink that will give me what I want…

  • Results as close as possible to the Canon originals
  • Economical to refill

…without messing about with hardware profiles. So the search went on. I found an interesting thread about the
“German “Durchstich” refill method for the PGI-520/CLI-521 cartridges” on (via google) :rotfl: My eyes were opened to the possibility of refilling the original Canon cartridges, which I still had. In that thread there are a couple of inks that come highly recommended. The thread also warns of using inappropriate inks, which can burn out your print head. OctoInk comes highly recommended on that forum, so I banged off an email to Martin with an enquiry, and got a reply within a couple of hours – always a good sign. I decided to try his ink, which is made by Image Specialists in the US. OctoInk appealed because they are UK based and well recommended. I ordered ink and a few 21 gauge needles on Monday night, it was packed that night, shipped on Tuesday and with me on Wednesday. This is the ink I bought. It cost me £21.30 delivered for 100ml of each of the five inks. (Update 6 december 2010 OctoInk now sell a kit with everything you need for the Canon Pixma MP range)

I filled the cartridges according to the Durchstich method, installed them and cleaned the print head, sent a nozzle test page through the printer and then printed out the same three test photos (on the same paper of course – also remember I’m still using the Canon photo black – but that’s the same for all three tests now). So here are the results. I captioned the photos this time. Each set of three was photographed in one shot so the lighting for each is identical.

I did a blind test with Tomek and Malgosia, putting the three photos in random positions and asking them which they liked the best. Tomek picked three out of three OctoInk image specialists. Malgosia picked one Octo outright winner and the other two she couldn’t choose between the Canon and the Octo.

My own opinion of the OctoInk Image Specialists’ Canon Compatible CLI221 + PGI220BK Ink Set is that it is a very good match for the Canon ink – particularly if, like me, you don’t want to mess about with printer profiles. This ink is good enough for me to use as a direct replacement for the original ink. And instead of costing £2 per ml, I got 500ml for £20. That much of the Canon ink (admittedly with brand new tanks each time) would cost £1000. This should mean I don’t have to be a tightwad with my photo printing, which is exactly what I set out to achieve. Thank you Martin from OctoInk. 🙂

Apr 122010

I’m in Poland at the moment. I’ve been accessing the BBC web site to catch up on the news etc. One thing I noticed was that there is annoying advertising on the site when you log in from abroad. :shout: It doesn’t appear when you log on in the UK, so I am used to seeing the site without these annoyances. I want my BBC back as it should be. :pissedoff:

I use Firefox and an excellent add-on called Adblock plus. To get rid of the video advertising or any other graphic, all you have to do is right click and “adblock image”. But it’s a slightly different story with google adsense, which is text, not graphics. “There has to be a way” I thought – so, ironically I googled “getting rid of adsense ads” and came up with this gem of a page…

…where it has four different ways of achieving that goal. One of them uses adblock plus. All I had to do was open adblock plus “preferences” and add a line to block. The line is this…*

and while I was there I did the Yahoo ones too…*

Now it looks as it should -but even better than that, it should work for all sorts of other sites too. 😀