Categories
computers tips

Still thinking unit conversions = a conversion chart + a calculator? Wolfram Alpha to the rescue!

So, you’re working along, deep in concentration, when up pops a value written with units that won’t be understood in the target language. What next? Do you:

a) Pull out an old battery-powered calculator and a printed conversion chart.
b) Use an online conversion chart and the infuriatingly crummy calculator built into Windows/OSX
c) Type your problem into Google and hope for the best…or

Categories
resources tips

There’s more to Wikimedia than Wikipedia…

Wikipedia is so helpful to translators that most of us would rather not admit quite how much we rely on it — partly because, as everyone knows, Wikipedia has a certain less-than-perfect reputation when it comes to accuracy. However, a surprisingly large number of translators don’t realize that the Wikimedia Foundation (the organization that actually operates Wikipedia) also runs a number of other collaborative wiki projects that can at tmes also be very enlightening. Projects such as Wiktionary, Wikiquote, Wikibooks, Wikisource, Wikimedia Commons, Wikispecies, Wikinews, Wikiversity and Wikimedia Incubator might come in handy the next time you need a quick reference on somethng while translating. Let’s take a closer look!

Categories
tips

Five other useful things to do with Google Search

In light of the somewhat surprising popularity of our last post (Fifteen Helpful Google Search Operators), we figured we’d continue with the Google theme by revealing a few more not-so-secret Google-search-secrets. Read on to learn five (well, actually six – except the Kevin Bacon one can hardly be called ‘useful’…) other useful things you can do with/from Google Search – aside from searching for specific words of phrases on the World Wide Web.

Categories
tips

Fifteen helpful google search operators

First came the World Wide Web, and then came the search engine (presumably to try and make the whole thing more accessible/manageable). And it wasn’t long (relatively speaking) before one particular search engine proved to be the one to watch (and use): Google. Google has inadvertently revolutionized the way we work – we use it to find definitions, names of proper nouns and check context, research companies, prospective clients and colleagues… the list goes on and one and on. So it makes sense to learn how to google* for things efficiently and effectively. On the simplest level, effective googling translates to knowing what to type into Google in order to find the most relevant information you’re looking for – something that can often be achieved much more easily by employing a few basic Google search operators, such as:

Categories
tips

Techniques to help spot typos in your translations

Typos, or lack of them, can mean the difference between a happy client and an angry client. They are, quite simply, your worst enemy. Spotting mistakes in someone else’s work is relatively easy, but spotting them in your own work can often prove quite the opposite. It makes sense then to have someone else proofread your work. However, with deadlines forever looming, employing the services of a proofreader just isn’t always practical. So what’s the best way to proofread your own work? Well, different people prefer different techniques: here’s a few favorites:

Categories
tips

Seven ways to improve your source-language proficiency

If you’re able to make a living as a translator then you’ve obviously already reached a relatively high level of source-language proficiency – a level of proficiency that no doubt gives you the means to impress even native speakers without breaking that much of a sweat: provided, that is, that you stay within your source-language comfort zone; for you know in your heart-of-hearts that acting outside of said comfort zone would be about as frightening as suddenly finding yourself in the same room as Dracula.

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agencies tips

Ten tips for agencies trying to attract/impress new translators

In the eyes of many freelance translators, agencies often get it wrong, and surprisingly, many of the best-known agencies survive (even thrive) whilst continuing to get it wrong – speak to any freelancer who’s been in the game for a while about their experiences and most will be able to tell you dozens of translation-agency horror-stories. The problem, as most freelancers will tell you, is that a lot of translation agencies don’t seem to treat the very people who make them their money as well as they perhaps should. So here’s a few tips for agencies interested in starting off on the right foot when trying to impress new freelance translators.

Categories
computers tips

Why translators might like to go on Safari with Lion

Coinciding with the release of their latest OS (Lion), Apple have made some huge improvements to Safari – too many to mention really… for a full list check out the ‘Safari‘ section of Apple’s ‘OS X Lion: 250+ New Features‘ page. But we’re not about to get bogged down by going through all of those here (especially since we’ve already mentioned a few of the reasons why translators should be using Lion in a previous post), instead, we’d like to focus on just one – a system-wide feature that can make looking up the meaning of words (something that translators probably do more than most) in Safari altogether easier: ‘Lookup‘.

Categories
computers tips

Boost your window-moving efficiency with ‘Three finger drag’

If you’re not already addicted to ‘Three Finger Drag’ on the Mac, put aside any stick-in-the-mud ways you might have and give it a try. After a few minutes (worst-case-scenario a few hours) of ‘this feels a bit unnatural’ you may well find moving things around on the screen starts to feel altogether more fluid than ever before*. Could actually pressing down on the trackpad be on its way to becoming a thing of the past?!

Categories
tips

Ten things to try when you’re completely and utterly stuck

Assuming you’ve tried all the usual things – reading around, umpteen Wikipedia searches, as many dictionaries and thesauruses (online or offline) as you can find – you’ll no doubt begin to worry that you might be getting stuck. However, fear not (yet), because depending on the particular type of ‘stuck’ you’re about to do battle with, there might be a few more things worth trying. Here’s ten of them (feel free to add some more in the comments below):