The Translorial Tool Kit

By Jost Zetzsche © 2004 International Writers’ Group, compiled by Yves Avérous

The Tool Kit is an online newsletter that comes to its subscribers’ mailboxes bimonthly. In Translorial, we are offering you a quarterly digest of Jost’s most helpful tips of the past season. If you would like to subscribe to The Tool Kit, visit www.internationalwriters.com/toolkit/ and mention Translorial during subscription, Jost will put your name in a drawing for one free Tool Box book per edition.

Make it Simple on the Internet

Here are two websites that you’ll love: First, Bugmenot.com (www.bugmenot.com), that allows you to grab an existing user name and password for thousands of existing websites. So, instead of registering your name with the New York Times before reading it, you type http://www.nytimes.com into the provided field and receive a user name and password from someone else who has voluntarily supplied it (today it was iwethey and iwethey for the NY Times). I wouldn’t be surprised if the legal status of this site may change at some point, but for now I think it’s great. In fact, I just uploaded my latest patch for my CD-burning software with someone else’s password…

Another site is Tinyurl.com (www.tinyurl.com), which allows you to generate short versions of otherwise long URLs (website addresses). For instance, I typed http://www.internationalwriters.com/toolbox/comments.html into the provided field and received http://tinyurl.com/498dm, a unique and shortened version of an otherwise tedious link. Nifty, huh?

Save Time on the Internet

Here’s my new favorite technology that you may have heard mentioned somewhere without quite knowing what it is: RSS. This acronym stands for a lot of things, but the easiest is apparently “Rich Site Summary.” This is a technology that allows you to be very specific about what kind of information you would like to have sent to you.

Here’s how it might work. As translators, we regularly visit a variety of websites: newspapers in our source and target languages, translation-specific newsgroups (such as sci.lang.translation), discussion groups on translation tools and various other translation-related topics (many of which are located on groups.yahoo.com), and whatever else we desire for our non-translation lives.

Many of these websites and other online resources now allow you to subscribe to what are called “RSS feeds.” RSS feeds consist of XML-based data that looks quite ugly if you view it as a text file or within your browser, but completely proper if you display it in a specific RSS reader. For example, instead of having to go to the New York Times’ website (www.nytimes.com) every half hour to see whether the world has come to an end, I now subscribe to their feeds (www.nytimes.com/services/xml/rss/index.html) so the NYT now sends me data blurbs in real time with links for more information. And the same is true for all of the other sources I mentioned above along with many, many others.

For a specialized RSS reader program, you can either use a standalone program such as FeedDemon (www.bradsoft.com) or the donationware FeedReader (www.feedreader.com); have it integrated in your browser such as in the new and free Mozilla Firefox (www.mozilla.org) or the upcoming Apple Safari; or, my preference, with a plug-in to Outlook through NewsGator (www.newsgator). This way I have all my relevant information in my email application, which is a pretty central hub of my work environment anyway and as a result has become even more productive. Another benefit is that I can now read newsgroups in Outlook and can finally get rid of the annoying Outlook Express.

It is worth noting that the translation workplace ProZ.com just added RSS support to its forums (http://tinyurl.com/5scve)! I have now subscribed to all of its feeds and am saving myself a few trips a day to their website because I can now follow the discussions in my email client.

Speaking of RSS, in the near future I’m planning to offer an alternative subscription to the Toolkit newsletter as an RSS feed so that hundreds of this newsletter’s subscribers who are not receiving it regularly because of spam filters catching and destroying it may have another option.

Windows Upgrade Woes?

There’s been a great deal of discussion about whether to upgrade or not, but I found that the most relevant information on whether or not the upgrade should be performed can be found on Microsoft’s own website (http://tinyurl.com/6usau). This support page lists all the programs that Microsoft is aware of that will or could be affected by an upgrade. In a recent New York Times column, chronicler David Pogue detailed a very useful step-by-step process to upgrading, which may be found at http://tinyurl.com/4twbu.

The Ultimate List…

… for utility lovers is The “List of Lists” at http://lists.gpick.com. I am sure that one could waste a lot of time scrolling through the different categories of tools available there. But on the other hand, if you know what you want to improve on your computer, chances are you are going to find something on this refreshingly no-nonsense site with its superb classification.

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