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



* 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








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.