The Translorial Tool Kit

By Jost Zetzsche © 2007 International Writers’ Group, compiled by Yves Avérous

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

Chatting away
I love Skype. It may not be the coolest thing to be in love with a wildly popular tool, but I can’t help myself. No other tool has changed my work habits more than this tool in the last couple of years.

So just for that one remaining reader who is not yet familiar with Skype (www.skype.com), here’s a quick run-down of what it does: Skype is primarily a VoIP (Voiceover-Internet-Protocol) service that allows you to make free calls from computer to computer if the person you are calling also has Skype installed. In addition, it allows you to make cheap calls to regular telephones, organize telephone conferences (free if everyone is using Skype, cheap if people are using telephones), send text messages, send large files, and use a host of other services. In the new version it even offers my all-time favorite game—backgammon—as a standard plug-in, so I’m completely sold.

True, there’s always a risk with programs like this that you’ll waste time playing with all the features or simply chatting too much with your friends, but for me Skype has been a real productivity gainer. It’s so much easier to text message or call with Skype when you are working in teams, want to talk to a project manager, or do some consulting with a client. And because of the mind-blowing success of Skype, chances are that your colleagues and friends are using Skype as well, thus circumventing the non-compatibility problems of other chat and VoIP programs.

Plus it’s sort of cool that a tool from Estonia has made it big time, don’t you think?

Aptly named IntelliWebSearch
IntelliWebSearch (www.intelliwebsearch.com) probably would be the winner of the popularity-vote-by-translators award of 2006. I mentioned that I stopped ClipMate from starting automatically, but IntelliWebSearch shall have this honor now and evermore!

This humble little application copies highlighted text from any Windows application with a number of user-definable shortcut keys; strips the text of paragraph marks, line breaks, or any customizable characters; opens your default browser and sends the copied text to up to 10 customizable search engines or on-line dictionaries. Once you have your search engines and dictionaries for your language combinations set up, it’s incredibly easy to use and I promise that your fingers will think in IntelliWebSearch terms from now on. (Mine automatically go Ctrl+Alt+Shift+B if I see something that I need to check on German Google, and I’m always terribly disappointed when I am doing something on someone else’s computer that may not have it installed.)

The TM survey
Awhile back I announced a survey that was conducted by Elina Lagoudaki from the Imperial College London on the use of translation memory. She has now published her results and it makes for a very interesting read! You can find a link at the very bottom of  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Translation_memory. I asked her why she differentiated between Trados and SDL Trados, and she said that she was interested in getting an idea of how many translators had actually updated. I still think it is slightly misleading, but it’s all right if you’re aware of it. The only other criticism that I have is that I think she focuses too much on the translation memory aspect of the respective tools. Nevertheless, it’s the best TM survey that I have ever read.

Amazing Word shortcuts
I was going to write about some new keyboard shortcuts in MS Word that I had (re-) discovered and was excited about. But when I tried to find references on the Microsoft website for the different locales and languages, I realized that right now is probably not a good time to do this. Office 2007 is just about to be released for the home and small office user, and Microsoft has made it hard to find information about anything but Office 2007 on their website. Plus they now require a sort of registration when going onto the help section of their vast website. So I thought to myself that it would probably be more helpful to give a non-language-specific tip that works for present and future versions of Word, including the ones for the Mac.

There is a way to view or print out a list of all available commands in Word with their respective keyboard shortcuts, including the ones that you have created yourself for your computer. To do this, select Tools> Macro> Macros, select “Word Commands” under “Macros in,” highlight the ListCommand macro in the list field, and click on “Run.” (The only difference for the menu-less Word 2007 will be that you will have to go through the Developer tab rather than the Tools menu.) All possible Word commands (including all commands of currently activated templates) will be listed in a newly created Word document. I promise, you’ll be amazed at how many Word commands there are that could have helped you all these years if you had only known …

Managing your windows
Here are two more humble apps that also start every time I start Windows. PushPin (www.rosafamily.org/software/pushpin) is a tiny application that adds a little “Always on Top” option to the menu when you right-click on a file or a program on the Windows Taskbar and makes that program stay on top of all other programs or files that you work on. This may not sound too overwhelmingly impressive at first, but if I could count up all the seconds I’ve saved by viewing a chat in Skype on top of the document that I’m translating or editing, or having the PO on top of the invoicing system that I’m entering its data in, I’d probably come up with a day at the beach—well, maybe a short day.

OTrayIt! (www.teamcti.com/trayit/trayit.htm) is an application that also deals with space issues on your screen. We’ve all been annoyed by the crowded Windows Taskbar when we have five or six different programs open. Though it is possible to enlarge the taskbar by pulling it up, it looks ugly and takes away other screen estate space. TrayIt! allows you to minimize any application to the system tray (the part of the taskbar that displays the clock) rather than the taskbar by simply pressing the Ctrl key while you click on the minimize button of any application (the underscore button in the upper right-hand corner of an application). If you have Windows XP, it’s very easy to then control the display of the icons in the system tray by right-clicking on the taskbar, selecting Properties, and clicking on the Customize button. Just as with PushPin, there is no real installation necessary. You just need to copy the .exe and .dll files in the .zip file you download to a location of your choice, doubleclick the .exe file, and be happy ever after.

The tool that counts
As you can see from their ad in this newsletter, AIT has just released a new version of AnyCount, their word count tool for translators. The 25 file formats that it can now count includes OpenOffice and StarOffice formats (which, I think, is a first) and WinHelp as well as HTMLHelp formats. Other new features include the ability to (finally!) count hidden text in Word docs or better integration into Windows Explorer, among others.

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