Friday, 29 January 2010

A Nice Little Application

When translating, I'm always having to save things here and there, and backup stuff here and there and download this and that.

I found a little app that's incredibly small and does something which sounds totally pointless but is actually pretty nice. When you click save in XP (and Visa) you get a selection popup asking which folder you want to save to. Now one thing I always have to do is navigate backwards and forwards in this folder looking for my directory. Sometimes I save drafts in a different location to originals for example so I have to go up and down directories.

On the left hand side of that little save prompt that pops up the computer gives a couple of default locations. I think it gives "My computer", "Desktop", "C:/" or something along those lines. With this little application The Places Bar Tweaker from isoIsland you can edit the folders that appear on the left hand side. So now I've got three links to my most commonly used translation folders.

Effectively it's totally cut down on the time I need to spend going up and down while saving documents. In all honesty it probably doens't save that much time, but its nice to be able to do it without all that trouble and makes the day a bit more pleasant.

So if you need it why not google isoIsland or Place Bar Tweaker and see if you can find it. It's really really tiny and very friendly.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Translation Dictionary Review Converter

Another quick review of a translation resource. This is called the "English to Chinese (Simplified and Traditional) and Chinese to English Converter Software" produced by

I've tried to use it a few times, but I've generally not liked it very much. It may be more appropriate for people who need longer strings translated, but then I would then prefer to use something like google translate or babelfish.

The software opens as a window in Microsoft and allows you to enter a great big string of text; it also allows you to load text from a text file. Once it's open you enter your text into the box and click translate and it translates it for you.

I guess the main advantage is that it's possible to translate a big string at once rather than having to enter one word at a time. The main problem from my perspective is that as a freelance technical translator I never really need long strings translated in that way. I just need to look up little terms from time to time.

The most annoying thing about it by far is that it has a really annoying pop up box telling you to click here and have license emailed to you. It also pops up over other windows when it's open, so for example as I'm writing this review with it open in another window the pop up is covering part of my screen! I find that extremely annoying and for that reason I've hardly ever used this software.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Translation Tools Review - Wakan Dictionary

Just another quick review of a translation tool I sometimes use. This is another electronic dictionary which is available in both Chinese and Japanese. It's called Wakan and is widely available online if you do a search.

It's hard to talk about pluses and minuses of this dictionary. The main good points are that the system has slightly different definitions to my other dictionaries, so if I'm concerned about a particular term, I can always check it here and see what this has to say. In terms of features, there's nothing here I use that isn't available in any of the other dictionaries I've discussed, but then you don't really need anything other than the ability to enter a term and see the definitions. Certainly things like the stroke count and radical lookups in Wenlin are occasionally useful but really not essential.

The main problem with the dictionary is that it seems to require you to enter terms in pinyin rather than cutting and pasting Chinese characters into it. One of the reasons I might use a dictionary is if there is a term I have never seen before, and in those cases I can seldom guess the pronunciation. It just means I use another dictionary first.

All in all, it is nice to have more than just one dictionary, and although basic, these definitions seem to be OK, and can be helpful. In terms of features, it isn't strong enough to overtake any of the other commercial dictionaries as first choice, but is a nice addition. For some users, the Japanese functionality may also be useful.