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 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!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Customizing Word before you start the translation work

I like to start working on a document with a large text space on the screen, free from unwanted icons, toolbars, sidebars and the like, but with all the tools and macros to help me translate speedily, and enhance productivity. Here are some methods I use.


I have retained only those icons and menus that I use frequently, and conserve the rest of the valuable space for the document I'm translating. Here's what you do. First, pull down View/Toolbars and uncheck all those icons that you have never used and will never use. I have retained just the Standard and Formatting icons, and have also eliminated common ones such as Copy, Paste and Cut (I use the corresponding keyboard shortcuts). To remove these icons, click Tools/Customize and with the Customize Window open, right click on any of he icons you don't need and delete it. By so doing, I have managed to retain a fairly large working space while having ready access to all the icons and macros. Also retain only those Wordfast icons that you need. If you always hit Ctrl+Alt+ right, left and down arrows for searching and inserting placeables, there is no need to retain icons taking up valuable space! See the image below of just the essential icons.

Adding essential macros

Add your most used macros to the top line on the right side of the default Word menus. In my case these include small macros that I use often in the course of the work, such as Paste Special, Print Preview (helps me see what the created document would like on an A4-size sheet at 100% magnification), ExtTBox (a macro that extracts text from text boxes and dumps it into another file), Wide2Narrow (for converting double byte to single-byte characters) and so on. Also add the useful ones not in front of you such as Wcount (Word's counting feature), and EditGlos (edit Wordfast glossary) so on. To add macros to the menu, again click Tools/Customize, select Commands/Macros and drag the macro to the menu bar. Right click on the name and pare it down to a short one (such as Normal.NewMacros.DDwin to just "DDWin").

Using AutoCorrect judiciously

Register long words that you use frequently in AutoCorrect by abbreviations. If you use "consequently" "specifications" "temperature" often, register them as "cns" "spc" and "tmp." AutoCorrect will expand them for you and cause less wear and tear of your wrist in the long run. After you type a few pages, scan the text for frequently-used words, hit Alt+T+A to bring up the AutoCorrect menu, enter your abbreviation and the complete word or phrase once and register it. From the next time onward just type spc and let AutoCorrect do the rest of the work.

If you don't use the Autocorrect spell check script to automatically correct spelling mistakes as you type, you can use Word's Autocorrect feature to correct spelling mistakes for you. If you have a tendency to type "adn" instead of "and" then register it in Autocorrect and let it correct these mistakes for you. When you finish typing out the document, you might not have to do a spell check!

Also register often used hard-to-find symbols such as the following in Autocorrect:

± ˚C α β γ (I type plmin, deg, alpha, beta and gamma to obtain these).

Other shortcuts

Besides the above, I use other macros such as FindNextJ to check that no Japanese double-bye character remains in the final document, the Quality Check Wordfast shortcut, and some other Wordfast-related macros that assist in translating documents quickly and accurately. Watch out for a separate post on working faster with Wordfast!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Searching dictionaries quickly while you translate


A small note before today's post. I have not had the interaction that I expected with readers through comments. I can only assume that this is because of "user-non-friendliness" of this blog. I have taken steps to remedy this by providing instructions on the right on how to post comments and how to post your messages directly to my mailbox, if you do not wish to post to a public forum. I look forward to interaction and feedback. If you like something say so. If you don't like something -- well, don't say a thing. :)

Searching JE/EJ online dictionaries

Today, I give you an Autohotkey script that I hacked, which will enable you to search four standard online Japanese English dictionaries while you translate. You can selectively search any of these, when you get stuck on an English or a Japanese term or phrase during your translation work. I have tested the script on Mozilla Firefox running on a Windows XP system. Hopefully, it should work on other browsers. The four dictionaries are: Progressive/Daijirin, Exceed/Daijirin, Kenkyusha Online and Sanseido Daily Concise dictionaries made available by Yahoo, MSN, Excite and Sanseido respectively.


The procedure is as follows:

a. I assume that you have already installed Autohotkey – if not, read an earlier post introducing this free utility, and install it on your system.

b. Copy the script at the end of the post to a plain text editor, and save it in a suitable folder say with the following name: gendic.ahk

c. Open Explorer, go to the folder where you have saved this file, and double click on gendic.ahk

d. You should see a green icon with an H in your system tray indicating that the script has been loaded.

That's all there is to it -- you are now ready to go! Select the phrase or term, hold down the Win key and hit 'g' (indicating "general" dictionaries). The screen shown below should appear:

Select the dictionary you wish to search and hit Enter!

Let me know it if works for you too, as it did for me.


Gui, Add, Radio, x7 y40 w240 h20 Checked vDict, Progressive

Gui, Add, Radio, x7 y60 w240 h20, Exceed

Gui, Add, Radio, x7 y80 w240 h20, Kenkyusha

Gui, Add, Radio, x7 y100 w240 h20, Sanseido

Gui, Add, Text, x7 y10 w240 h20, Select Dict:

Gui, Add, Button, x86 y120 w70 h20 Default, Ok

Gui, Show, h185 w251 +hide, Selection

RunOnce = 0






if (RunOnce = 0 or SendThis =)


Gui, Show, h185 w251, Selection

WinGet, SelId, ID, Selection

WinWaitClose, ahk_id %SelId%

if SendThis <>



Send, %SendThis%



;Send, {Enter}



Gui, Submit

if Dict = 1

run ""

else if Dict = 2

run ""

else if Dict = 3

run ""

else if Dict = 4

run ""

RunOnce = 1


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Lightning search of an online database

I use the Glova bilingual database frequently during my translation work. Although it does give redundant matches sometimes, the contextual database gives a good idea of how a term is used in Japanese. I have registered it using OpenSearchFox (pointed out in an earlier post) in the small window on the right side of the browser. See image below.

I decided to write an Autohotkey script that would search this site when I select a specific phrase in a Word document. Although I don't write difficult scripts, this was fairly easy and it worked! I can now select a Japanese phrase or term, hit Win key + G (for Glova) to open Firefox and bring up the English equivalents in a flash. Note that the script may not be optimized; but I was pleasantly surprised to see that it works. Here's what you do if you wish to use it yourself. Note that this is for Windows only (sorry Mac and Linux users; I regret I didn't learn to use these OS too) and you need Autohotkey on your system.

1. Install OpenSearchFox, the Firefox add-on.

2. Go to the Glova site, select both databases (General/Business and Medical/IT/Science) by Ctrl + left mouse click.

3. Check JE if you wish to search for Japanese phrase or EJ if you wish to search for English phrase.

4. Place your cursor in the Search window, right click and register Glova with OpenSearchFox so that it appears in the browser on the right hand side.

5. Now copy the script below to a plain text editor and save it as say, Sglova.ahk


Send, ^c ;Copy to clipboard

Run, ;Launch Browser

WinWait, Google - Mozilla Firefox

IfWinNotActive, Google - Mozilla Firefox, , WinActivate, Google - Mozilla Firefox,

WinWaitActive, Google - Mozilla Firefox,

Send, ^l ; Focus on main window

Send, ^k ;Focus on search window

Send, ^v ; Paste from clipboard

Send, {Enter} ; Hit Return key


6. Double click on this script so that it appears with an H icon at the bottom right part of your screen.

7. You are all set. Select a Japanese/English phrase and hit the Win key + G. Your browser should open and the hits displayed on the screen. Happy scripting!

Until the next post, here's a thought: If you want to be happy for a year, plant a garden; if you want to be happy for life, plant a tree.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Quickly search glossaries and translation memories during translation

To increase your productivity in fields that you translate once in a while, you need quick access to glossaries in that field. A tool that allows you to search for terms and phrases while you are translating such a document, preferably by using a hot key, and also enables you to paste results into your document. Apsic Xbench is such a tool.

How to use it

In short, here's what it does. Say you are translating from Japanese to English and get stuck over how to translate a term or a phrase. Select it and hit Ctrl + Alt + Ins, and Xbench brings opens up a window almost immediately with all the hits in glossaries, translation memories or tab-delimited text files you have already registered earlier. Here is a sample of the screen with a search for a "船首楼甲板":

The matches on the right hand side are from all your references – glossaries, translation memories and other text files. You select the term you prefer and hit Enter; the translation is copied to the clipboard, and the Workbench window closes. You can now paste the translation by Shift + Ins.

Input formats supported

This tool enables you to maintain your glossaries as simple text files and search them quickly. In addition you can use all kinds of common CAT bilingual formats such as Microsoft glossaries, TMX, Trados, SDLX, Star Transit, Wordfast, and IBM Translation Manager and save them under different projects. See the website for details of the input text formats supported. Recent formats supported TBX, Multiterm XML, XLIFF, or Mac OS software glossaries.

Other features

The best part of it is that this convenient tool is free! It also has some quality assurance features and can be used as an online quality tool to check consistency in terms used for ongoing translations. The QA function also warns of other problems such as tag mismatches and so on. Google-like queries from the application is also a recent addition. Definitely a keeper!

Until the next post, here's a thought from Robert Frost: The world is full of willing people, some willing to work, the rest willing to let them.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

February 2008 Recap

In February, I told you about Free online storage and free software, pointing you to a website that you can register freely and save your data, and of another website that offers you software that is free only for 24 hours. I have one more addition to free online storage since then. MediaFire gives you unlimited storage space to which you an upload your files and share them too. Check it out! Next, I posted an article on Quickly searching online references using a browser add-on -1, which was an extension to an article previously published on December 30, describing how to search more references useful to translators such as Yahoo Progressive Dictionary, Microsoft Terminology, Chemical Substances Database, Science Terms, E-Words, and Searching Japanese Patents using Needlesearch, a Firefox browser add-on. You can of course, go to the links mentioned above and search each site individually too. Next, I told you how to about Finding place names in Japanese, in which I also mentioned about an add-on called OpenSearchFox that also helps you to quickly add websites to search for. The other articles this month were December Recap and January Recap, that summarized the posts in December and January. Until I set up a separate Categories section enabling you to search for relevant posts quickly, you can use the Recap posts that give you a quickly summary of what you will find in each post. Until the next post, I leave you with a quote by Indira Gandhi: There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Converting any file to a PDF file or image file without hassles

For quickly sending invoices by printing them to PDF format, converting files of exotic formats including Powerpoint files that can be printed, I found it best to use a PDF printer driver. This is an application that works as a printer. You install it and it comes up in the list of printers when you print a document. You print to it, and instead of printing to a printer it creates a PDF file. Who wants to waste time using Acrobat for this? I tried all kinds of utilities – mostly freeware – that purport to do this; some allow you to print but watermarks appear on each page, some call home, and some need you to install Ghostscript. I finally found a freeware utility that does this without any hassle. In my opinion, PDFCreator wins – HANDS DOWN! It is Open Source, stable, works on all 32-bit Windows OS, and does its job efficiently. Additionally, it has these features: encrypt PDFs and protect them from being opened or printed; send generated files via e-mail; create more than just PDFs: PNG, JPG, TIFF, BMP, PCX, PS, and EPS; autosave files to folders and filenames based on tags like username, computer name, date, and time; and merge multiple files into one PDF. And all this comes with a great price tag – Free! I recommend you get it now and install it.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Click on a word with the mouse and get immediate answers!

Today, I'd like to tell you about an application that does this. From ANY Windows application, be it Word, a text editor or a spreadsheet, just press the Alt key and click your left mouse button. For instance, I just clicked on "spreadsheet" in this sentence and here's what I got:

1. You get the definition of the word and its pronunciation by clicking the speaker icon
2. If you click translations, you get the translation in more than 10 languages. You can set the languages for which y
ou need the translation too. If you set your preferences to Asian languages and here is the resulting screen:

Download 1-Click Answers and install it. You can also change the hot key (Alt + left mouse click) to activate your browser from the Options menu. The requirements for running this application are:

  • Windows 2000, XP, or Vista. The installer is a 1.3 MB download that takes up about 3 MB when fully installed.
  • Tested for compatibility with all supported release versions of IE, Firefox and Opera browsers. (IE 6 & 7, Firefox 1.5 & 2, Opera 8 & 9).

The references accessed by the application includes not only the following but more, according to its website:

"Reference content from publishers such as Houghton Mifflin, Columbia University Press, Thomson Gale, Britannica, Barron's, Computer Desktop Encyclopedia, MarketWatch, Investopedia, All Media Guide, Who2, AccuWeather and eSpindle."

The references are fairly impressive. I tried "dosa" a dish well known in the southern part of India and was pleasantly surprised to find its photo too. How about some highly technical words such as metacentric height? Here are the results -- impressive!

Definitely a keeper and likely to prove invaluable for the meaning of those difficult words you come across during translation, so I recommend you get it now!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

How to securely back up your valuable data

Have you ever had a situation when all your painstakingly-compiled glossaries, references, translation memories, macros and other valuable data disappeared because of a hard-disk crash? I hope you never have and never will face such a situation. It pays, however, to take minimal precautions to back up your data.

I use some low level tools to back up my data. Here's what I do. Create one directory in which all your valuable data goes into – this could include glossaries, translation memories, macros, snippets of valuable how-to's in text format, passwords, bookmarks, registry backups and whatever data you feel is important. Let's call it IMP. Now store all categorized folders in this directory like so:

IMP - Main directory

Folders under IMP

--> Glossaries

--> Translation memories

--> Macros

--> Passwords

--> Bookmarks

--> HowTos

and so on.

Now download either of these two synchronizing freeware utilities SyncBack Free or RealSync. The first also has a professional version, but I found the free version to be more than adequate to back up my data. The second is entirely in Japanese, but very fast and easy to use. Install either of these on your PC, set your source directory to synchronize as IMP (including all folders and files), create a directory with the same name in the destination (I use a 100 GB USB hard drive and the hard drive of a PC on my peer to peer network as my backup destinations). Everyday, before you shut down the PC just click the Sync button and your data will be synchronized and backed up safe and secure, and you can have a good night's sleep!

Here is a sample screen from each of the two applications.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

How to set up an RSS feed as a live bookmark in your browser in 5 seconds

Does this topic have relevance to translation? It does. You need to keep in touch with the latest developments in translation and all things connected to it. You need to get news on the latest resources, dictionaries, glossaries and other references that come up on the Web very fast, so that you have access to the latest resources, and can perform your translation work efficiently and speedily. There's too much of information out there, and simply no time for you to go searching for it.

Here's how you set up an RSS feed as a live bookmark in Firefox in 5 seconds

While you are reading this blog, you should see an orange icon in the bottom right part of the Mozilla Firefox browser window (the status bar), or if you are using version 1.5 or newer, in the right most part of the address bar like so:

Just click the orange icon, click on Subscribe to RSS Feeds. You will get this:

Click on Subscribe Now, you get this:

Click OK and Translator's Tools will be on the status bar like this, along with other feeds that you can register in a similar way!

Don't go to the news – let the news come to you!

If you are already using other RSS readers, you can click on the link "Subscribe in a reader (with icon to the left)" OR the link "If you like the posts, please click here to subscribe." This leads you to a window that allows you to select your reader from the following: My Yahoo, NewsGator, AOL, Rojo, Bloglines, Netvibes, Google, other readers, View Feed XML.

Alternately, you can also click on the RSS subscribe icon, you can select from Bloglines, My Yahoo, Google, Newsgator, My MSN, Rojo, Pluck, My AOL, News Alloy, Netvibes, Pageflakes, and subscribe to this feed.