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

Editorial

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

Alex Eames

tranfree editor, Author –

Business Success For Freelance Translators,


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

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 I have ripped out outdated sections and written a lot of new material as well.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.

Excited

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…

http://translatortips.net/business-success.html

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:
http://www.internet.bs/4domains.html
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
www.HostingPen.com

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.

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
and
Selling Your Professional Services on the Web

Sep 142010
 

Will Computers Replace Translators? tranfree 73

Editorial

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 yousendit.com 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 (http://www.kaz-type.com/). 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

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?”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-11025543

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 translatortips.com 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 translatortips.com, editor of tranfree and author of the eBooks…

How to Earn $80,000+ Per Year as a Freelance Translator
and
Selling Your Professional Services on the Web
ISSN 1470-3866

***End of issue 73***

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