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: 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 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?


Friday, June 6, 2008


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. 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.