Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Another PDF to Doc Converter

I came across another converter, and this time its online. You don't need to install any software on your system, and the conversion is almost instantaneous. Yes, Japanese also works. Go to the site, click on Browse, upload the PDF file. I uploaded a 9-page PDF document and the converted file was ready for download in less than two minutes.

The screenshots below show the original PDF on the left and the converted Word document on the right.

Comparison - original PDF and Word document

Click on the image above to see a magnified view. The layout is preserved quite well, but like many other PDF converters, each line has a frame around it. Not good if you are going to translate the Word document with a CAT tool. You will have to save it as a text file and start removing hard returns. Considering the hassle, I found PDF to Word, a shareware, still unbeatable, since it preserves the layout and gives you soft returns at the end of each line (see screenshot with soft returns after conversion by PDF to Word below).

Converted by PDF to Word

The online converter here, is useful if you are traveling and wish to make a quick conversion online, and of course, it is free and quick.

Have a great day!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Find and replace utility for Excel

Do you have clients who persist in using Excel as a word processor just because they need to insert some tables in the document? This seems to be the favorite pastime of some of my Japanese clients. I have a feeling that they are given a crash course on using Excel as a word processor when they join a Japanese company!

I was given about 31 Excel files each with two or more sheets to translate. As expected, within each cell, the author had generously inserted hard returns to align all text within a specific column. The moment I looked at it I knew that I would be wasting precious time removing these hard returns and translating the text in a CAT tool.  To add to this burden, are changes to specific terms that arrive later from the client. How would you make find and replace phrases throughout 31 files x 3 sheet on the translated document? I scoured the Web, landed on an Excel MVP page and installed a free macro utility called FlexFind (thanks Jan Karel Pieterse, you saved me considerable time, and a fine bowl of steaming noodles and beer is on me if you visit me in Japan).

The macro installs easily as an icon in Excel and also appears as an item under the Edit menu. Here's what it looks like:

Dec08-12-01 

I ensure that the Acknowledge and Each Item boxes are ticked so that when I do the find and replace, I read and confirm that the macro does replace the terms I want to replace. This is a good macro to keep and use for Excel.

I do have problems yet in merging text spanning across multiple cells and cleaning up sentences with hard returns in the same cell. If you do know of any solutions, for these do write to me.

Have a great day!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Keeping your system up-to-date

While translation keep me busy most of the time, and there's always underlying pressure to finish off a day's work, I have forced myself devote half about  a day every week to check for updates to Windows programs, updates to applications installed on my system, running the Windows defragger to defragment the hard disk, and performing a data backup. Today, I'd like to share with you my once-a-week maintenance schedule with the main utilities I use.

1. Detect and update vulnerable programs

I use Secunia PSI (free for personal use) that checks my system, scans, detects and helps to update vulnerable programs. It provides links for easy download of patches and updates to keep your applications running smoothly. Here's a screenshot of the results of scan of the system by this application.

Dec0906-01

Try it. I found it to be very useful as it warns me of vulnerabilities.

2. Update checker

I also use the Update Checker from Filehippo.com that scans my system and produces a list of applications that need to be updated. Yes, this is also free, and shows updates to beta versions of applications too. The screenshot below shows some of the applications that I use for which updates are available today, and the download links.

Dec0906-02

 

3. Disk Cleanup

I usually go to Start/All Programs/Accessories/System Tools/Disk Cleanup (note that my menus are in Japanese so the above may not be the exact words used, but you should be able to find the Cleanup program) and cleanup my system of unnecessary files, such as temporary Internet files. That does free up several hundreds of megabytes of space and prepares the hard disk for defragmentation, which is the next step here. 

4. Disk Defrag 

I then go to the same menu as above and select Disk Defrag under System Tools (Start/All Programs/Accessories/System Tools/) to defrag my hard disk.  The defrag process does take a bit of time depending on how fragmented your hard disk is, but regular defragging makes the process go quite fast and keeps my hard disk in good order.

5. Disk Backup 

Finally, I back up my data using Acronis (to back up the entire disk) and also my own low level data backup method that I wrote about before.

To conclude, however busy you are, minimal maintenance such as described above will keep your system working like a well-oiled machine and save you problems in the long run.

Have a great day!

 

Monday, November 17, 2008

First look at Felix the CAT

I have been meaning to write about CAT tools and have always been putting it off, because discussion of any CAT tool would required at least four to five pages, and I'm sorely pressed for time! I have used Trados, DVX, Wordfast and I'm now working on an actual job using Felix, developed by Ryan Ginstrom, who has given translators some very useful tools (see description of CountAnything) and macros such as Wide2Narrow and, FindNextJ (see here) . I'll probably run this feature on Felix over several days, but here are my first impressions of Felix used with Word.

Felix works differently compared to Trados and Wordfast, with which I am familiar. However, I tried it on an actual translation job using Word and coasted along fine within a day or two. In this write-up, I'll talk mainly about my impressions of Felix with regard to translating a fairly large Japanese document into English in Word, using translation memories (TM) and glossaries originally used in Wordfast, and converted to Felix native format.

You can use Felix for translating documents in Word, Excel, Powerpoint, HTML files. It has tools for converting TMs to and from TMX, and glossaries to and from Multiterm and Excel. I found this conversion feature easy  to use and did not hesitate to try out Felix on an actual job using TM and glossaries from Wordfast.

I found that these basic features of Felix were sound for Japanese as source text:

1) Fast concordance searches

2) Good fuzzy matching

3) Good term recognition ability

4) Convenient conversions of TM and glossaries between TMX and native-Felix formats 

5) Ability to load and use multiple glossaries and TMs

Here's what the translation-in-progress screen looks like:

 

Felix translation windows

The uppermost window to the left is the Memory window, the one to the right is the glossary window and the one at the left bottom is the Word window in which you overwrite the translation.

The process is fairly simple. You place your cursor before the source segment to be translated and hit ALT+right arrow. Felix immediately selects  the segment, displays terms in the segment in your glossary (if available)  in the right window (terms can be pasted into the translation by Alt+1, Alt+2), and displays the source text with fuzzy matches (if any)  in the upper left window. If a 100% match, you hit Alt+G and the bilingual segments are registered in memory and the next sentence to be translated is displayed. If a fuzzy match, you hit Alt+Down arrow to copy the fuzzy match into the Word window, edit it as you wish and upon completion, hit Alt+S to register it in memory and move to the next sentence. That's the basics for translating segments. Felix performs these basic operations neatly and efficiently.

You can also register new entries in the glossary or several glossaries; the process is a little cumbersome but the developer has promised to make it easier in the next release, including insertion of a default comment for each item.  One of the more convenient features of Felix is saving the glossary directly to an Excel file and editing the entries in Excel. The same feature for TMs would set Felix apart and high above the other CAT tools in the market. The present version has some limitation in not being able to save the TM directly in Excel format because of the limit on the number of characters in one cell in Excel. This too is on the list of improvements for the next release.

I have only translated about 80 pages in Word using Felix, but I think it is definitely a keeper. Support is also very good; being a translator, the developer understands the problems of a translator and is very responsive to suggestions.

Although Felix does not have the abundant options (Pandora) of Wordfast and its flexibility especially for power users, I feel it does score over Wordfast in terms of stability especially when handling double-byte languages, and in terms of ease of TM and glossary conversions. Overall, considering ease of use, stability, support, and price, I would rate Felix as equivalent to Wordfast when working with Word documents (will review other formats in the near future, hopefully) . With improvements for quickly registering glossary entries and saving of TM as Excel files anticipated in the next version, it is likely to become my favorite CAT.

Have a great day!

 

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Two useful online services for the translator

I came across a very useful online service the other day called Tip of my Tongue that helps you to recollect words that you vaguely remember but just can't blurt out. I tried it out immediately on a word that I never seem to get right the first time - a word that means "pulverization" starting with "com" and ending with "tion." I entered the relevant information and here is the result:

Tip of My Tongue 

Yes, I am always unsure of whether the 'u' or the 'i' comes first in "comminution." This site will be on the top of my list of bookmarks.

The other one reads out your text and the computer-generated voices are not too bad. The site at Read the Words even produces an mp3 recording of the text you paste in its window and sends it to you by e-mail. You can try out a demo by pasting text less than 100 characters in a window, selecting a voice and listening to it. If you like it, you could register and then paste larger chunks of text and have it read it out to you while you translate. You can register for a free account, and upload Word, PDF or HTML files and have the text read out to you (don't upload confidential documents!)

Read the Words

Try the 100-character demo first selecting different voices and see if you like what you hear before you register for a free account.

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Searching online dictionaries and search engines through Office programs

Today, I'm reporting about a Microsoft add-in (free, of course) for all the four main Office programs (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook) called ClickSolve that searches user-selected search engines after a term or phrase is selected and hot key is pressed while in the Office application. This is called the Search It! feature. There is also a mapping feature called Map It! for mapping and directions, although the Search It! feature might be of more interest to translators.

Installation after downloading the program adds a new menu item to your Office applications. The menu in Word looks like this:

Menu item   The menu item unfolds to show the features and more importantly the Options, where one can select the engines to search for! These include Google, Yahoo, Ask, LiveSearch and others. I wrote to the developer to include several Japanese engines, and he added Eijiro to the Options menu.

 

Here's what the Options window looks like:

Options

Select ALC J-E translation and you can select a word in any of the Office applications, activate Search It! and it should give you the gloss. The J-E search works fine too.

To test Map It!, I pasted the JAT meeting address in Japanese in Word (東京都渋谷区道玄坂2-10-7), selected it and activated Map It! See image below.

Oct02-03

Currently, the option to include your own search engine does not exist, but the developer has hinted that this is being considered. Should you have your own favorite dictionary or search engine, write directly to the developer through the Contact Us tab. I requested Eijiro and Glova be included, but he encountered some problem in including Glova in the list of Options.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Tips for quick searches and using Run commands

1. Quickly get definitions

Would you like to get a definition of a term quickly? This quick grab of a definition works in Firefox 3.0. Say you need the definition of "allopathy." Here's what you do:

1) Hit Ctrl + L when Firefox is open (this selects the URL in the address bar)

2) Type definr.com/allopathy and hit Enter.

Here's what you get:

Sep22-01

2. Quickly get English equivalents of Japanese terms from online references

If you have already registered your favorite bilingual database such as Glova in a an earlier article Lightning search of an online database, you should see a blue icon with white lens on the right hand side of the Firefox screen like so:

Sep22-02

Well, you are all set to hit a few keys and search for Japanese terms too!

Here's what you do:

1) Hit Ctrl + K (shifts the focus on the search bar)

2) Paste or enter the Japanese term you wish to search and hit Enter.

That's it! Here are the results for 変換:

Sep22-03

3. Useful run commands

As a translator, you need to use the keyboard more to reduce wear and tear of your wrist. I find run commands useful and use them whenever I can. You'll find huge lists of 156, 164, 178 and so on, run commands on the Net - but nobody in his right mind would remember or use such a lot of commands. I give here some of run commands that I find useful and which have saved me a lot of mousing around.

Remember all you need to do is hold down the Win Key, press R, then type in or copy and paste the command from the list below and hit ENTER.

COMMAND DOES THIS
appwiz.cpl Opens the Add and Remove Programs in Control Panel
calc Launches the calculator
charmap Launches character map - you can search for those Greek and mathematical symbols you wish to insert in Word.
clpbrd View the clipboard. Shows you what you have copied to the clipboard using Ctrl C.
cmd Command prompt - from where you can run all kinds of DOS commands
control Opens Control Panel to gives you access to all kinds of settings
control folders Perform folder settings
devmgmt.msc Opens the device manager. The moment you find a yellow exclamation work next to a device here, you know something's wrong!
desk.cpl Perform screen resolution, screen saver and other desktop settings
mrt Checks your system for malicious software
excel Launches Excel
mspaint Launches Paint
powerpnt Launches Powerpoint
winword Launches Word
osk Displays your Onscreen keyboard
regedit Make changes to your Registry - take care
shutdown Shuts down Windows
sysinfo Shows information about your system
taskmgr Shows what applications are running; gives you the option to close down running applications
winver Shows you which version of Windows is running

That's all for today folks. Have a great day!

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Various utilities and useful links

I was in the US for more than a month and personal as well as business engagements took away time for this blog. I'm back again and hope to record convenient tools and tips during my forays into the World Wide Web. I have put through a smorgasbord  of offerings this time. 'Nuff said - here they are:

1. Launch bar

I wrote about SlickRun many months ago, and I still use this great utility. For a second line of applications that I wish to run, here is a simple method (for Windows that is, and I use XP) that does not involve installing any application. Here's what you do:

a. Right click your desktop and create a new folder;  call it “Launch Bar”.

b. Drag the Launch Bar folder to the extreme top of the desktop screen and drop it.

c. That's it - you have a toolbar.

d. Now drag the applications you need to launch and drop them in  this launch bar.

You can also right click this toolbar at the top and click on the feature to automatically hide it so that it pops up only when you bring the cursor to the top of the Desktop Screen. Here's what mine looks like:

launch bar

2. New patent search site

For all ye patent buffs - here's a new site (patents.com) that gives you patents in clean PDFs and as late as last month too. I searched with keywords "planing boat" and found a patent dated Aug. 26, and another with the keyword "semiconductor" and found one dated Aug. 28.

3. Auto-complete at command prompt

I'm sure some of you must be using the command prompt especially when you want to print a list of files (see Quickly print a list of files to a file) but here's a neat trick where you can use Auto-complete to display directories or files using the tab key at the command prompt. I came across this trick in another blog by another techie. The procedure involves making a small change in the Windows Registry, so make sure you make a backup of the Registry before you make changes! The instructions for changing the just one value in the Registry are clearly given here.

This gives you the ability to hit TAB to type out long Japanese file names at the command prompt - see example below.

Auto complete at command prompt

Until next week, here's wishing you a great day!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Two utilities to make your life easier

I give you two freeware utilities this week - both small, unobtrusive and useful.

Rainbow Folders helps you to identify and classify folders on your desktop, directory, or other work spaces by using distinct colors. You can hue and saturation values to make distinct shades and color folders easily.

Here's how I have colored some of my folders to distinguish them as PDF documents in English and Japanese.

Explorer part view

The above screenshot is a part of the Explorer window.

The program is for Windows only; OS: Win 98/ME/2K/NT/XP, and weighs in at 783 kB.

The second one is also a freeware utility called AutoUnbreak that  removes line breaks from text copied from PDF files. You copy the text from the PDF file and paste it into AutoUnbreak, then process it and copy the results to Word or any other editor. Here are screenshots of the program and results of a small test I did on an English PDF file.

AutoUnbreak utility

The procedure is as shown in the screen shot above. Paste text into the window, click Unbreak and copy the results to clipboard.

I copied part of a PDF file to a text editor first (you can see the line breaks) in the screenshot below, and then pasted it to AutoUnbreak.

Text copied from PDF file

After processing with AutoUnbreak and copying the results to the same text editor, this is what I got:

 

Processed text

AutoUnbreak did remove line breaks in all but one location. Maybe not perfect, but useful nonetheless if you have a huge PDF document to be translated in Word.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, July 4, 2008

More on proofreading by text to speech

In a previous post, I wrote about a proofreading solution using a commercial software (Dragon Naturally Speaking) to read out the text you  translated. Although the voice is not as natural as in Naturally Speaking, here is a free solution, SayzMe, thanks to a reader of this blog who pointed it out to me. The voice bundled with this free application is passable, and certainly better than some of the voices I had tried out a year ago. Download this freeware utility and try it out yourself.

I have recorded two simple Word macros that hide and un-hide hidden text when you use a CAT tool such as Wordfast. These macros may be used to conveniently hide the hidden text and proofread paragraphs or the entire document during the translation process. I have put them on Word's toolbar as you see here:

  Jules-01 To proofread a paragraph, you can run HidOff that hides the Japanese source text and displays only the translated English text, select the paragraph and hit Ctrl +C to copy the text to clipboard. If SayzMe is already running, it will read out the clipboard text.

You can record these two convenient macros yourself using the macro recorder in Word or copy them from here (Note: I have run these on Word 2003, and they work fine. If they don't work for you, try recording them yourself.)

CAUTION: When you proofread and wish to make corrections by deleting or writing over text at the beginning or end of sentences, make sure you turn the hidden text ON and then do the corrections. There is a good chance you may delete the hidden bookmarks inserted by the CAT tool when you delete/overwrite text.

I wanted to write about CAT tools, such as Wordfast and Felix the Cat.  unfortunately, looming deadlines have prevented me trying out Felix - hopefully in the near future. Here are the two macros:

Sub HidOff()
'
' HidOff Macro
' Macro recorded 2008/04/03 by Gururaj Rao
'
    Application.DisplayStatusBar = True
    Application.ShowWindowsInTaskbar = True
    Application.ShowStartupDialog = True
    With ActiveWindow
        .DisplayHorizontalScrollBar = True
        .DisplayVerticalScrollBar = True
        .DisplayLeftScrollBar = False
        .StyleAreaWidth = MillimetersToPoints(0)
        .DisplayVerticalRuler = True
        .DisplayRightRuler = False
        .DisplayScreenTips = True
        With .View
            .ShowAnimation = True
            .Draft = False
            .WrapToWindow = True
            .ShowPicturePlaceHolders = False
            .ShowFieldCodes = False
            .ShowBookmarks = False
            .FieldShading = wdFieldShadingWhenSelected
            .ShowTabs = False
            .ShowSpaces = False
            .ShowParagraphs = False
            .ShowHyphens = False
            .ShowHiddenText = False
            .ShowAll = False
            .ShowDrawings = True
            .ShowObjectAnchors = True
            .ShowTextBoundaries = False
            .ShowHighlight = True
            .ShowOptionalBreaks = False
            .DisplayPageBoundaries = True
            .DisplaySmartTags = False
        End With
    End With
End Sub
Sub HidON()
'
' HidON Macro
' Macro recorded 2008/04/03 by Gururaj Rao
'
    Application.DisplayStatusBar = True
    Application.ShowWindowsInTaskbar = True
    Application.ShowStartupDialog = True
    With ActiveWindow
        .DisplayHorizontalScrollBar = True
        .DisplayVerticalScrollBar = True
        .DisplayLeftScrollBar = False
        .StyleAreaWidth = MillimetersToPoints(0)
        .DisplayVerticalRuler = True
        .DisplayRightRuler = False
        .DisplayScreenTips = True
        With .View
            .ShowAnimation = True
            .Draft = False
            .WrapToWindow = True
            .ShowPicturePlaceHolders = False
            .ShowFieldCodes = False
            .ShowBookmarks = False
            .FieldShading = wdFieldShadingWhenSelected
            .ShowTabs = False
            .ShowSpaces = False
            .ShowParagraphs = False
            .ShowHyphens = False
            .ShowHiddenText = True
            .ShowAll = False
            .ShowDrawings = True
            .ShowObjectAnchors = True
            .ShowTextBoundaries = False
            .ShowHighlight = True
            .ShowOptionalBreaks = False
            .DisplayPageBoundaries = True
            .DisplaySmartTags = False
        End With
    End With
End Sub

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Proofreading your translation

To proofread my translated text, I thought of using a utility that would read out the text to me. I tried out various freeware utilities some time ago but they all came with Microsoft voices such as Microsoft Sam. Well, frankly they were too 'computerish' for me and I gave up.

I had purchased Dragon Naturally Speaking more than a year ago, but never did find the time to train it with my voice. I suddenly wondered whether it did have some tool to read out text. I was overjoyed when I read the Help file!

This is what it had to say:

"You can use text-to-speech to have text on your screen read aloud in a computer voice. "

"Using text-to-speech can free your eyes for other tasks. For example, you could have a document you dictated read back while you listen for mistakes and sections you may want to revise."

"Text-to-speech will read back specific parts of the document. You can specify a line, paragraph, selection, the complete document, or the whole screen to be read back to you. You can also specify that text-to-speech reads from the top of the window to the insertion point or from the insertion point to the bottom of the window."

I launched Dragon Naturally Speaking pulled down the Sound menu, I found Read That. The voice too was more natural than the ones that came with freeware utilities. I had it read out text that I had just translated and I liked it. I had found a now proofing tool hidden in the dark recesses of my PC!

I found that Dragon Naturally Speaking also has a transcription tool - you feed an audio file and it transcribes for you. I should try this out next time.

Have a great day!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Utility to annotate images

I sometimes get text embedded in images that I have to translate. I tried various utilities to replace the captions in such images by translated text in English, including the excellent freeware, Irfan View.

I finally stumbled upon FastStone Capture for Windows and plan to stick to it, unless you come up with something better than this one!

Although a neat image capturing utility, I found its editing functions to be excellent. Images speak more than a thousand words - so I give you two images. One, the original image with Japanese text and the other replaced with various kinds of English text (with colored box, background and so on).

Original Image

Image with captions inserted

For instance, see the location where I have inserted Voltage. The software allows you to cover up the Japanese and type in the translation in a colored (red) box.

Next, see the caption "Current." You can replace the border by a different color have a shaded border (the caption for the image below "Current"), use a transparent box so that the Japanese text can be seen through along with the translated text.

The image capturing ability of the software is also excellent. You can even capture a scrolling window. Nothing to beat the price too.

Do you know of a freeware better than this utility? I'll be happy to hear from you.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Feeds through Firefox not updated

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It has just been pointed out to me by a friend that his subscription through Firefox to Translator's Tools had not been updated since December. He thought there was no fresh content, and accidentally stumbled on new content in this blog during a Google search.

I have rectified this problem, but I don't know how to communicate with all those who have subscribed through this feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/blogspot/jDms which is not being updated; and I don't know the reason for this. Some readers have subscribed through the link above will not be reading this post as their feed stops in December. If you have subscribed to this blog through the link mentioned above, please re-subscribe by clicking on the link "Subscribe in a reader" under the heading "Click here to subscribe" on the side bar to the left, or scroll down and click on  "Let the news come to you - subscribe" under the heading "Subscribe." Both these links will lead you to http://feeds.feedburner.com/blogspot/uRQg which is the correct link and which updates correctly to the latest posts.

I am sorry for the inconvenience caused to some of you. If you have friends that have subscribed to this blog through the obsolete link, kindly inform them.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Fast full-text Japanese search

I am always on the lookout for utilities that search Japanese text quickly. I came across one that did a fairly good job - it goes by the name Shin3rou (探三郎) and the one I'm talking about here is freeware.

I found that it did a great job - lightning quick searches of all Office files, PDF, html, txt, csv and AUTOCAD files, after indexing these files. When you extract the files from the zip, make sure you put them in their own folders! Otherwise when you launch the program, you'll get an error message.

Once you specify the files and directories you want the utility to index, just enter the phrase in the search box you need and hit the Search (検索) button - the results come up in a flash. Impressive! Here's a photo of the hit screen. Go get it if you have a huge glossary or an enormous translation memory you need to search while you translate.

Definitely a keeper for me. Do you know of any Japanese text indexing utility like this one?

Jun9-01


Friday, June 6, 2008

Transcription

Fifteen years ago I transcribed a couple of audio tapes for the first time in my life. I had only an audio cassette player, and being green around the gills in the translation field at that time, I had not even heard of a foot pedal. I spent an enormous amount of time on those two audio tapes and vowed never to do the same job again.

Two days ago a friend and colleague who runs his own translation company came up with an urgent request to transcribe a 10-minute technical video clip in English that he needed to translate into Japanese. I asked him to send it over. The voice was clear.

I hunted around the Internet and found a freeware that could extract just the audio from the video clip. This was the Free Video to MP3 Converter V.3.1.1.2. It did a fairly good job and gave me an audio file containing the speech to be transcribed (see screenshot).

Now to find an application that would allow me to play the audio clip, pause and restart using shortcut keys. This would facilitate typing out the speech. Another Google search with relevant keywords led me to an application called Express Scribe (see screenshot). Here's the blurb from the website:

Express Scribe Transcription Playback Software

Digital Transcription Audio Player Software

Express Scribe is a professional audio player software for PC, Mac or Linux designed to assist the transcription of audio recordings. It is installed on the typist's computer and can be controlled using a transcription foot pedal or using the keyboard (with 'hot' keys). This computer transcriber application also offers valuable features for typists including variable speed playback, multi-channel control, file management and more. This program is free.

I ran the mp3 file through this utility and it did a satisfactory job. I had to go listen to the audio clip about four to five times after having typed out a rough draft, and also to check the website for product names and company names that occurred in the speech. Transcription of a 10-minute video tape grabbed four hours of my time – this included searching the Internet for an appropriate Video to MP3 converter and an audio playback player suitable for transcription, typing out the speech while listening to the audio clip, revising and re-listening the entire about four times, and confirming the spelling of product and company names. I can however do a similar job now in about half the time since I have the tools for the job on my system.

Do you know of other tools comparable to Express Scribe? Please feel free to comment.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

FreeSnap – freeware utility for sizing a window

Although practically all of my translation assignments are in electronic format (data files such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint files), I occasionally need to translate embedded text in PDF image files. In such cases, I place a new Word document and the PDF file to be translated side by side, look at the PDF file and type out my translation into the Word file (see the image below).

I recently came across a nifty freeware utility called FreeSnap that makes sizing windows and adjusting the sides of windows a snap! Placing two windows side by side becomes an easy task using FreeSnap. It runs in the background (has no tray icon) and you use hotkeys (Win + arrows, Win + Numpad keys) to maximize any of the sides of a window, to center a window, or resize it. For instance, if you use the Win key with Plus or Minus keys on the Numpad successively you can resize the window to a specific size. FreeSnap also provides an alternate set of hotkeys for laptops.

Here are the basic operations:

Windows Key + Up Arrow: Snap top window edge

Windows Key + Down Arrow: Snap bottom window edge

Windows Key + Left Arrow: Snap left window edge

Windows Key + Right Arrow: Snap right window edge

Using Numpad (Number Pad)

Windows Key + Home, End, PgUP, and PgDn keys: Move a window to the corresponding corner of the screen without resizing the window

Windows Key + arrow keys: Size windows

Windows Key + corner keys (7,9,1,3): Move windows to the corner of the screen.

Windows Key + 5 key: Center the window

Windows Key + Plus and Minus keys: Resize the window to a specific dimension.

The dimensions used are:

640 x 480

800 x 600

1024 x 768

1152 x 864

1280 x 1024

Once you run FreeSnap, the only indication that it is running is its name that appears in the Start Menu. Have you come across anything better than or as good as FreeSnap? If yes, share your information by clicking on Comments below this post.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Word/character counting utility

Some of the most useful utilities for translators working between Japanese and English have come from Ryan Ginstrom, a translator and colleague. He's come up with the latest offering, which is useful, and also free: CountAnything. As its name indicates, it counts most of the file formats I generally translate, including words in text boxes and many other embedded objects. It counts the numbers of words, characters (with and without spaces), Asian characters, and non-Asian words. You can save the reports as html files or print them out. I personally would have prepared a tab-delimited file, as you can export it directly into Excel. The latest version 1.2.1 gives you word/character counts of the following document formats:

* MS Word (.doc, .rtf)

* MS Excel (.xls, .csv)

* MS PowerPoint

* Text

* HTML

* XML

* PDF (New!)

Here's what the screen looks like after a count:

I tried out the PDF feature on a document containing mixed Japanese and English, and CountAnything did very well.


Asian characters

Non-Asian words

Characters (no. spaces)

MS Word

7087

3374

25243

CountAnything

7092

3377

25241

Another keeper!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

PDF to Doc converter

After trying out various converters, I finally found a freeware converter that offers you a choice on whether to convert a PDF document to a Word file with or without text boxes, and with or without line breaks in the output. So here's one that's free and with no nags, and no ads with a cryptic name: Some PDF to Word Converter.

It also offers batch processing and other customizability such as selecting the number of pages to convert, deleting graphics, pictures, and so on. Although online converters exist that do a fairly good job, I would rather handle sensitive documents on my desktop rather than uploading them for online conversion. Here are the options this utility offers (see image):

The application works on Windows NT/2000/XP/2003/Vista. This one is a keeper. I am, however, yet to find a similar one that has like features and works with Japanese PDF documents; would any of our Japanese readers who frequently scan Vector, Mado no Mori or similar Japanese websites like to add some information on Japanese freeware to convert Japanese PDF documents to Word documents? This is a long-felt need for JE translators.

Your results may vary with Some PDF to Word Converter – try out conversions with and without line breaks too. I had good results with a PDF document in English without fancy formatting.

Incidentally, the downloads page on the same site has other converters also to convert PDF to html, txt and so on; and all free, of course.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Poll results

I was out of office for a while and saddled with three urgent jobs – the dust has cleared and I hope to start writing more frequently. The Masters' swim meet in Hokkaido was a great event; and Hokkaido is a wonderful place to be in spring!

Thanks for voting – the poll gives me an idea on what readers like to read.

95% of the readers voted for software/ utilities to assist translation

55% of the readers voted for translation resources

40% of the readers found Web search tips interesting

30% preferred tips on CAT tools

25% voted for tools to maintain and enhance productivity.

I'll concentrate more on giving you what you asked for. The next article will be on a tool that translators nowadays often need to use! Coming soon.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Macintosh Resources

This post is just for Mac users – sorry, Windows users – I have ignored readers of this blog who use Mac completely until now, and I'm trying to make up to them. Note however, that I don't use the Macintosh operating system, so Mac users will have to fill me in on various details through Comments or you may write directly to me to add to the cumulative knowledge of the subscription list and other readers. I have listed here various applications that may help you to perform searches and maintain your system.

1. Google Desktop for Mac

Google Desktop for Mac (beta) seems to have incorporated many of the features from the Windows product, such as indexing Gmail and web history, Google.com integration, finding content in past file revisions and deleted files, and fast application launching. It is designed for a Mac, from the bezel on the search box down to correctly and securely handling multiple users and FileVault. The search box makes launching documents and applications lightning fast and provides quick access to your files, folders, email, and web pages.

To send feedback to the team developing this product, go their forum.

2. Mac-specific searches in Google

Google has come up with a Mac specific search. So the next time you wish to restrict your searches to hardware, software and other resources for the Mac only, try searching Google through this link.

3. AppMenuBoy – a free Mac download

Adds an applications menu to your Dock. AppMenuBoy helps you to expand your application folder into a hierarchical menu.

4. Mac application tracks software serial numbers

RapidoSerial makes a database and stores your software license keys. This will help you retrieve your license keys especially when your hard disk crashes and you don't have a list of all your license keys.

I would love to have something like this for Windows too – anybody know of an equivalent?

5. Free download to create Mac keyboard shortcuts

Spark 3.0 beta 7.0 helps you to create keyboard shortcuts. Here is a blurb from the website:

Spark is a powerful, and easy Shortcuts manager. With Spark you can create Hot Keys to launch applications and documents, execute AppleScript, control iTunes, and more... You can also export and import your Hot Keys library, or save it in HTML format to print it. Spark is free, so use it without moderation!

Mac users, let me know if you found any of the above useful or they were just "old news" to you.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Some simple find and replace strings in Word

I have often used these simple find and replace strings to edit Word files, and also some regular expression strings in Word to edit large Word files and Wordfast translation memories. Here are some simple searches that translators may find helpful when using Word's Find and Replace. In a subsequent post, I hope to take up some simple regular expression strings.

In all the instances below, F: refers to the string you need to enter exactly in the "Find what:" box and R: refers to the string you need to enter exactly in the "Replace with:" box when you press Ctrl + H in Word.

1. Replace soft returns by hard returns

F:^l

R:^p

2. Replace hard returns by tabs

F:^p

R:^t

3. Replace double spaces in front of a hard return by a single space and a hard return

(Note: "@" below represents a space that you enter using the space bar and is not the "@" character)

F:@@^p

R:@^p

4. Delete all graphics (images) in the document

(Note you could use a hard return (^p) in the Replace with box if needed. Don't enter anything in the Replace with box otherwise.)

F:^g

R:

5. Replace white space in front of units (such as kg and so on by a non-breaking space)

F:^wkg

R:^skg

(This will keep numbers and their units together even at the end of the lines).

Watch out for a subsequent post on regular expression searches in Word.

Monday, April 28, 2008

First poll on Translator's Tools

I know there are at least some avid readers of Translator's Tools - some of you I met at the recently concluded IJET at Okinawa did sound me out on this. Thank you for your show of appreciation; this has spurred me to write more about translation tools in my spare time. My thanks also go to other faithful readers – I think there are 40 to 50 of you out there who have subscribed to Translator's Tools through some reader. Since this blog will cease to exist without you, my dear readers, I have decided to ask you what you'd like and tailor my posts henceforth to satisfy the majority of readers.

On the sidebar to the left you'll see a question and list of five answers. Choose an option that best reflects your needs and click Vote. The poll will run until the 15th of next month. The subsequent articles will be based on the results.

I'd like to say thanks again, and I look forward to your active participation, especially with comments on any post you feel like. If you do your own website, do link to this blog.

Have a nice weekend!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Yet more Google Tips

I gave you some Google tips in More Google Tips at the beginning of this month, and some in the first installment of Google Tips in January. I have some more for your this time – I'll be running out of words to add at the beginning – maybe "Yet Some More Google Tips" next time? These are some tips that I have tried out and have found useful; those that would help translators come first, of course.

1. Adding a tilde to get related terms and lists of terms

To your search word prefix a tilde (~) and glossary to get glossaries, dictionaries and list of terms.

Example: ~welding +glossary

2. Range of numbers

You can use this 2007..2008 to your search terms to find hits during the years 2007 to 2008.

For instance, you can search for all the posts that you sent to the Honyaku mailing list in these years by using the following keywords in Google:

+Yourname +site:http://groups.google.com/group/honyaku +2007..2008

3. Weather in any city

Find the weather at any location (in Japan too).

Ex: weather Tokyo OR weather Antwerp

For the US, you get the weather information by typing the zip code too.

Ex: weather 94306

Gives the weather in Palo Alto California

4. Find many useful e-books

You can read up information on a specific topic by finding downloadable e-books related to the subject.

+fundamentals +welding +filetype:pdf


OR

+introduction +C programming +ebook

5. "better than XXX" or "YYY sucks" search!

If you wish to know about products that are better than XXX, or alternatives to product YYY, trying using this search.

For example: Enter "better than Trados" and it should give you details of various CAT Tools!

Have a great day!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Microsoft resources for translators

1) Glossary search

Microsoft has some useful resources for translators. Let me point you to a new one that has just appeared – a searchable database of Microsoft terminology in various languages from English. You enter the English term in the upper box and select the language in which you want the equivalent term.

For English to Japanese, here is a trick enables you to copy a term in English and search directly.

1) Copy the URL below and paste into a text editor or MS Word.

http://www.microsoft.com/language/en/us/search.mspx?sString=XXX&langID=ja-jp

2) Substitute XXX by the English term.

3) Copy the entire string and paste it into the address box of your browser and hit Enter.

You should get a list of Japanese equivalents. Here's a part of the results for "localization."

2) Style guides

Microsoft has also made style guides available for download in various languages – but unfortunately the one in English is only available in the print edition.

Download the Japanese and other versions here.

The style guide contains a wealth of information for translators working in the IT field. These style guides are updated versions (March 2008).

3) MVP web sites

There are folks who are now, or have been in the past, designated as Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals recognized as such by MS for their willingness to share their expertise. The MVP web sites have valuable information on all aspects of MS applications; the ones I read often are the Word MVP web sites. Explore – there is a wealth of resources here.

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

More Google tips

The first installment of Google Tips appeared to be fairly popular, and having studied and stumbled upon some more cool tricks -- here you go. Let me first touch upon those that might prove useful to translators.

1. Bilingual documents

You sometimes find documents on the web translated in two languages. If you wish to locate, say documents replated to financial statements in Japanese and English, you can try searches like this in Google Japan:


+"financial statement" +対訳


対訳 refers to "bilingual." To find bilingual documents in other languages, replace 対訳 by its equivalent in the language you wish to search and use the specific country site for Google.

The first hit led me to a site where one can search for legal terms.

If you are translating material safety data sheets, then the search

material safety data sheet +対訳

will give you MSDS of various items and glossaries, which could be fairly useful.

2. Research using Google Scholar

If you translate technical reports frequently as I do, Google Scholar searches helps you discard unwanted hits and helps you to focus on scholarly documents from educational institutions, research organizations and so on. You could search only in the target language or both target and source language to find reports where the abstract might be in English while the rest of the report is in Japanese.

I generally use the target words and insert a relevant Japanese term too; for instance:

"marine pollution" +汚染

(where 汚染 is "pollution" in Japanese) led me to websites as shown below.

The first four websites were probably South Korean websites, so I added "site:jp" to the search terms to focus on Japanese sites only. This led to better results for my purpose as below.

3. Finding glossaries using "inurl"

As an extension to the above, you can find documents or websites with specific words in the URL of the websites. Let's make use of this Google feature to find a glossary related to marine pollution. We use the search terms as below:

"marine pollution" +inurl:用語

where 用語 should give a glossary of terms.


The first hit leads to a Word document with a glossary of terms with explanations in Japanese and a fairly useful list of abbreviations.

4. An addictive Google search

As a bonus, I give you some addictive searches, and you are hereby warned: IF YOU HAVE LOTS OF WORK TO DO, DON'T READ FROM HERE ONWARD!

a. To see network cameras all over the world

Enter the search terms exactly as below in Google:

inurl:viewerframe?mode=refresh

You should see network cameras at various locations in the world. This is fairly addictive and you see all kinds of places, including some fabulous cherry blossoms in full bloom!

b. To find mp3 files

Enter the search terms exactly as below: (DO SO AT YOUR OWN RISK; some websites may be harmful. If your system is not well protected by firewalls and AV software, desist from visiting suspicious-looking websites). You can replace "Clapton" by your favorite artist or group, or mp3 by mov, if you like:

"intitle: index of" Clapton mp3

This led me to a site where I could listen to my favorite music.

Happy browsing!

Monday, March 31, 2008

March 2008 Recap

I described How to set up an RSS feed as a live bookmark in your browser in 5 seconds in the first post in March; and then told you How to securely back up your valuable data using freeware utilities SyncBack Free or RealSync. I wrote about an exciting application called 1-click Answers that gives you immediate answers when you click on a word in your browser with your mouse and the Alt key. Next, I described the method of Converting any file to a PDF file or image file without hassles using the free utility PDFCreator; I gave you a summary of all the posts in February in February 2008 Recap, and then how to Quickly search glossaries and translation memories during translation using again a free tool called Apsic Xbench. I told you how to perform a Lightning search of an online database using Firefox and an Autohotkey script, and how you would go about Searching dictionaries quickly while you translate again using a hacked Autohotkey script to look for terms in online references, how to go about Customizing Word before you start the translation work by removing all unnecessary icons to get more workspace, registering often-used macros, and using Word's autocorrect feature efficiently, and ended with Two free utilities to enhance your productivity, namely Windows Search 4.0 Preview and the Free Update Checker. Watch out for a different look to this blog and more fresh, updated tips, tricks and tools next month!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Two free utilities to enhance your productivity

Yesterday, I installed two utilities that have already helped me increase my productivity. Both are Windows applications.

Windows Search 4.0 Preview
The first is a search tool for Windows XP and Vista that indexes your desktop and tells you in a flash which character string exists in which file. I'm quite impressed with it – not as bulky as Google Desktop or any of the other index-your-desktop-and-search software that take up a lot of space. It is a new tool meant for Windows Vista but can also be used on Windows XP. These are the versions supported according to the link provided:
32-bit versions of Windows Vista with Service Pack 1 (SP1)
All 64-bit versions of Windows Vista with SP1
32-bit versions of Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (SP2) or a later version
All 64-bit versions of Windows XP
Windows Server 2003 with SP2
All 64-bit versions of Windows Server 2003
Windows Server 2008
Windows Home Server

Just yesterday evening, a client asked for clarifications on some phrases of a project with a large number of files I had translated. I launched this utility with which I had already indexed my data folder containing all the translated data files. See for yourself here the results of a search for a phrase that appeared almost instantaneously:

The list of files containing the Japanese string appeared in less than 2 seconds; the preview window on the right however, did take several seconds before displaying the file. The download for the 32-bit Windows XP version weighed in at only about 5.3 MB. It appears to be an exciting tool to play with and search for all kinds of information from your desktop. Search for passwords that you use sometimes - you'll be surprised at the results. Definitely a keeper!


Utility for updating applications on your desktop
The Free Update Checker from Filehippo.com scans your desktop for updates to download and also provides the links from where you can conveniently download them and keep your PC running smoothly; it also gives a list of beta updates! The Update checker is only 100 kb and works very fast. Note, however, that although it works on any Windows PC running Vista, XP, 2003, 2000, ME or 98, it requires that the Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 be installed. Here's what it showed me when I installed and ran it:


The arrows on the right indicate the sizes of files to be downloaded and also serve as links.

Have a great weekend!