Thursday, 30 October 2014

Sitting on a ball

Hi all,

I've been exploring a lot of the various issues about working from home. One thing I kept reading and feeling was that my back was getting tired from sitting in my chair all day.

The first thing I tried was to just sit up straight, but that's easier said than done. For one thing, the armrests on my chair are slightly too low for me when I sit completely upright.

After doing some reading I purchased a Swiss ball to try. The ball was inflatable and I now use it as a seat for about an hour a day. The main benefit with it is that you really have to sit straight, it won't let you slouch. That means it's much more tiring than a regular chair and I've found that about an hour a day is enough. Maybe over time as my back gets stronger, I'll try to increase the time I spend sat on the ball.

One of the downsides is that the ball is pretty big (I got a 65 cm ball) and when I'm not using it there's nowhere to keep it in my little flat. So it usually sits on the bed (as shown below) while I'm working.

Overall I'd say it was a good idea. I've certainly felt a bit of an improvement in my posture and it helps break up the day when the job I'm doing is boring.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Interview with Wordbee a CAT Developer

Today's blogpost will be an interview with Anita, Marketing and Sales Manager for Wordbee, a company based in Luxembourg who are developing translation tools. I asked some questions I thought my readers would find interesting.

DAVID: Why create a new translation system? 

ANITA: We are going to celebrate our fifth anniversary in March, and we’ve already had success on the market, but we are still new to many people! We created Wordbee because of the potential that the cloud has to help people collaborate and share resources. Really, we’re a cloud translation solution.
When everyone is working on their own desktop tool, you have to be at your computer to work. Our vision is to provide great cloud-based tools at a good price. You can work anywhere, and your translation work is always accessible, private and safe in the cloud.

DAVID: Can you identify any problems with existing CAT which you could solve?
ANITA: We have solved a number of problems already. One problem was that two people could not access the same document, at the same time. With Wordbee, two or more people can jump in and collaborate in our browser-based CAT Tool. This creates a use for our commenting/notifications tool.
We also try to make ourselves compatible with other tools. You can export translations and/or memories to other tools, and you can also work on files from other tools, for example TTX.
Otherwise, it’s about the linguistic technologies and ease of use, and we get high marks in both.

DAVID: How do you intend to fit in the market with the existing CAT products?
ANITA: At the level of the LSP or Agency, we already fit in. Also at the enterprise level. At the level of translator and small LSP, we recently launched a new package called Freelance Entrepreneur. Our basic Freelancer package includes our CAT tool, translation memory, invoicing, scheduling, integrated terminology database, and lots of other things, but it’s not free. It’s very good, but not free. Our Freelance Entrepreneur package gives freelancers the basic package, plus project management and the ability to create teams, helping them win a place as a niche LSP when they get a chance. We are hoping that freelancers will find value in that kind of solution.

DAVID: What kind of CAT tools are generally used in Luxembourg?
ANITA: In Luxembourg, there is a need for our technology, so we do have some important contracts here with the government. That being said, our customers come from all over the world! As far as translators go, it looks a lot like the rest of the world, just smaller!

DAVID: What are your plans for the future?
ANITA: As far as developments go, there is currently commenting in the CAT tool, so you can comment on a segment, and you can have team members notified of your comment. Which works. But we would like to expand that functionality to make it even easier to communicate when you are translating on a team.

DAVID: Can you talk about your software briefly?
ANITA: Sure. It runs in your browser, and as a freelancer you can manage your invoices, prices/fuzzy matches, word counts, and finally make the translations. The CAT tool includes integrated Google Translate, Reverso, and Bing dictionaries, as well as the IATE terminology database of official EU translations. You can comment on segments to come back to them, or for other team members, and you can preview the documents or even websites when you translate. Version history is easily available, hot-keys, advanced settings… you name it. Last, it does all document formats, and is compatible with other tools. You can upload/download memories and/or translations. You can even download a translation, make it in Word, and upload it back into the CAT tool.

DAVID: What do you expect to see generally in the CAT industry in the near-future?
ANITA: Cloud. More cloud. It’s just so much better to share a space and to share resources than to have everything separate.

DAVID: What is the impact of non-European languages such as Chinese on CAT?
ANITA: We actually won a nice contract with Nikon Precision Inc. last year, and they chose us because we handled Japanese characters and character sets without any problems, and because we have complete project management, but our Asian language work was a real investment for us. I think that the Asian market is something like 12% of the total market right now, but it will likely continue to grow, so we want to make sure that our system is seemlessly working with Asian character sets.
We are planning to have a Japanese interface for our entire system at some point in the near future.

DAVID: Where can we find out more about you?
ANITA: We’re on the web at, and you can also find us on Facebook or Twitter! We’re at quite a few conferences as well, so come see us!

Monday, 28 January 2013

Translating Medical Terminology

I just wanted to mention a new reference book I purchased the other day which I've found really helpful. It's called "Understanding Medical Terms", written by "Ralph Rickards" (link here) to buy on Google (I don't get any referral fee). There are actually quite a few similar books, but this has been my favorite since buying it, and in just a few hours I've seemingly doubled my ability to read medical terms. I use it to check all kinds of things.

It's actually a very short book, running to only 106 pages, with sparse and large text. It gives basic rules for constructing medical terms and is bound to be helpful for translators. Here's an example, "pluer-, cost" are given to mean "relating to the ribs", so we can now guess what "intercostal muscles" are. Each chapter gives a few common roots for Greek and Latin terms like "The Body", "The respiratory System", "Cells" and so on. Each chapter gives about 20 roots which you can then combine to make thousands of different words. "Otorhinolaryngology" for example is just "Oto" - ear, "rhino" nose, "laryn" throat", "ology" -study - Ear, nose and throat! Just learning a few terms like that suddenly seems to unlock a lot of medical terms. Definitely worth getting if you ever come across medical terminology in your work or life.

It struck me when I was reading it, how much easier it is to read medical reports in Chinese. In Chinese the word for intercostal as an adjective is just 肋骨间 (ribs-space), meaning "between the ribs" which is actually the same thing the word means in English except we use costal instead of rib. Would it hurt for medicine to do a round of simplification and replace some of the old roots with the modern word. I know "Interribal" sounds a bit funny at first, but we could soon get used to it.

Monday, 21 January 2013


Issued: 21/01/13

For Immediate Release


Translation studies at Imperial College London could soon become a thing of the past.

Imperial’s Management Board is seriously considerating disbanding the Translation Studies Unit from October 2013 – not because of poor performance or high costs, but because it lacks ‘strategic fit’.

The TSU, which runs highly popular and successful MSc and PhD programmes in scientific, technical and medical translation, has been informed that it may be forced to down tools and move to another university – or close outright – simply because its work is not properly recognised by the institution where it is based.

The College argues that the unit does not fit in with its strategic aims and mission statement. However a careful reading of these two documents indicates that it matches them point by point. The unit’s MSc focuses closely on conveying scientific and medical knowledge across languages and cultures, and is one of the only programmes worldwide to offer such targeted training to tomorrow’s specialised translators.

Indeed, the programme is unique to the College and unlike all other Masters degrees in translation, most of which focus on general or literary rather than scientific types of translation. PhD students research relevant topics and the academic staff publish work on scientific and medical translation, translation technology and audiovisual translation.

Staff, students, alumni and wellwishers are up in arms about the proposals, which if given the go-ahead would see the unit being forced to look for a new home – or closing down entirely should this prove impossible.

A 30-day consultation period commenced on 18 January, during which time it is hoped that as many people as possible will make their views felt about this incomprehensible and potentially destructive plan. Already the unit’s online petition ( has attracted over 2,500 signatures in little more than 48 hours and is growing by the hour.

Notes to Editors:
1. Contact: Dr Jorge Díaz Cintas,, 020 7594 8747.
2. The Translation Studies Unit ( was founded in 2000 and has been running its MSc in Scientific, Technical and Medical Translation with Translation Technology since 2001. There are currently 52 students registered on the Masters, and around 300 former students worldwide. The Unit also supervises around 25 PhD students and is active in various relevant areas of research. The Unit has four core members of staff, one administrator and a large number of part-time tutors.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Trados Studio 2009 Adding Files to Desktop

When I use Trados Studio 2009 for my technical translation work, I find it has a certain "feature". Unless I'm missing something in the settings, I can't see a way around this.

My desktop before I create any files will only contain one single folder plus the recycle bin. I like to keep my desktop clean (unlike my real desktop - it would be better not to see a picture of that). When I get a new job under translation, I create a new folder on my desktop and keep all the files for it in there, that way I can't accidentally forget I've got a job on, because it's right on the desktop all the time, and it's easier to do backups that way as well.

So let's say I decide to create a new project to go in my new folder. We can call it "NEW PROJECT". I will open Trados Studio 2009 and go through the New Project wizard. Eventually I get to the following screen.

 So here, comes the problem. I'll click next to create the new project. I want it to go into my new folder called "NEW TECHNICAL" but before I can select, it gives me the following screen.

What happens here is that the computer will now recreate the folder from the previous project. It doens't give me a chance to click and change and say I want to use my new folder, but just re-creates the old one. I'll have to go in here and manually select my new project folder to move my files into there, but even if I do that, Trados will create my folder from my previous project.

It's okay if I'm still working on the previous project because it doesn't seem to do anything to the folder. But if that project has been finished, and I've archived my folder, it will create it again on my nice clean desktop. 

A quick manual delete seems to be the best solution, but it's not ideal!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Working with Chinese IME in Microsoft 7

In terms of language setup and localization, my computer setup is as follows.

I have English language Windows 7, set to the UK version. When I run Microsoft Office Word it defaults to UK spelling.

When I setup the computer, I added a Chinese Simplified input system which allows me to select Chinese when I want to type Chinese text directly.

For my Trados system, I default everything to US English, and most of my templates are in US English. This is because I've found it easier to work in US English and change to UK English later than go the other way round, especially because I've got a lot of US clients. I've talked before about the problem with sub-languages in Trados wherein I have to copy my US TM's into UK English before working on a UK file which is really annoying. Especially as SDL (who make Trados) seem to spend their time making new versions with pointless features (just my opinion) and higher prices, rather than making the existing programs more workable. Having said that, I think the Windows 8 / Tablet revolution will mean we'll need changes in the way we Translate and I look forward to seeing how the big CAT companies cope with it.

One thing I rarely do is input directly into Traditional Chinese. That's just because I never learned to type using bopomofo and my keyboard doesn't even have the markers. I normally just do it in simplified and then use an on-line converter to turn it into traditional when necessary.

Today, I decided I'd need a pinyin version of Traditional Chinese input (i.e. allowing me to enter traditional Chinese the same way I currently use Simplified Chinese). I came across a great link on Pinyin Joe with all the details. I'll let you go to his page to figure it out if you're planning on doing the same thing.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Tax Returns! Booo!

For those of you in the UK, October 31st is the deadline for paper tax returns (you've got until January for on-line returns). This year, I decided to get it done early and just finished today.

 My first thought was that I'm quite progressive and I don't mind paying my taxes, but it's frustrating to think that at number of my competitors abroad (and even in the UK) may not have to pay the same amount of tax that I do. For example, when I was living in Taiwan, I was paying something like 8% if I remember rightly.

I think the main problem is that the world is globalized, but I still want to live in the UK. That means I have to pay UK taxes, which are higher than some countries (and lower than others). I appreciate the good infrastructure and everything else in the UK, so I'm happy to contribute towards it. What if I was still in Taiwan, paying 8%, and after 10 years, I got sick and came back to the UK for treatment. I would then basically be getting the great quality of health care from the UK but without paying for it.

 My second thought is that I really like the website. The interface is really simple and clean, and I've never had any issues with it. It seems to work fine with Chrome, Firefox and IE. In both Taiwan and mainland China, I used to have to spend a week going backwards and forwards to the relevant offices to pay, and the UK system is great by comparison.

 Finally, I think there's something psychological about filing in a tax return. As a translator I'm getting the money from my clients directly, and I see it in my bank account. It sits there and somehow it's harder to think of it as not belonging to me. Taxes taken out of payment at source seem a lot easier to take.

Anyway, don't forget your tax returns if you're in the UK!