Jul 19, 2018

On track with changes in memoQ

After a two-year break I decided to attend memoQ Fest again this year. I had burned out a bit on memoQ as a working environment in 2015 because of the slow resolution of many problems associated with the transition from traditional application menus to the awful, space-stealing Microsoft-style ribbons... bugs remained unresolved for so long in fact that I released my last book (New Beginnings with memoQ) with a "beta" designation and then months later simply withdrew it from the market because it seemed that no fixes were in sight. And then at the beginning of 2017 as things with memoQ 2015 (7.8) had stabilized to an acceptable degree, memoQ 8.0 (Adriatic) was released with a dog's breakfast of foolish interface changes and new bugs. The two minor releases that followed (8.1 and 8.2) deepened the muck, not the least by introducing new and very broken tracked changes features. Dark days indeed in which experienced users generally stuck desperately to the only really reliable release of memoQ that Kilgray still supported (7.8).

And then last autumn there was a perceptible inflection point in the memoQ development trajectory. The 8.3 release still had the awful new match comparison and other confusions, but it was unusually stable for a new release. And it dealt with some long-standing issues while introducing some improved term-handling features. Improvements in terminology handling continued in the version that followed, and stability increased with each minor release - a phenomenon nearly unheard of with any CAT tool I know. Whether it's memoQ, SDL Trados Studio or another tool, new releases are usually painful experiences with a lot of bug bites, but Kilgray seems to have discovered some new secret of pest control in software development. With memoQ 8.4 and 8.5 I have actually been able to recommend upgrades very near the release date, which past experience taught me is usually not a professionally wise thing to do. Whatever the memoQ team is doing now, I hope they keep it up, because this is the kind of stability and reliability that is needed in critical business applications and which is seldom delivered on schedule by any company.

Adding to that, the latest version of memoQ has restored the old (and better) match comparison feature and other aspects of productivity that went missing when the 8.x series first hit the street. I still have my usual long wish list of improvements and features, but at the moment the only big objection I still have to memoQ's feature set is the limitations of its image transcription module for handling graphics with a lot of text. Something closer to Fluency's approach to transcription would be helpful.

With all the encouraging things happening with the translation environment I depend on, I decided to go to Budapest this year and meet the new team members who were contributing to many of these improvements and to catch up with old friends and colleagues who have contributed so much to improving my productivity and professional satisfaction for many years. memoQ Fest is inevitably a good event no matter how good or bad its published program sounds; the gathering of talent, brains and outright decent people in the memoQ community means that it's probably impossible not to have a good time and learn a lot of useful things in the sessions, breaks and after-hours events. This year's 10th anniversary of memoQ Fest exceeded all my expectations in every aspect.

I was extremely pleased to see the progress made with the integrated speech recognition feature suggested three years ago after investigations begun by David Hardisty and others, and to listen to the new design and education teams about approaches to future development, support and training. I'm even a little excited, which is an unusual thing given the cynicism that nearly half a century of working with software has embedded in my brain.

There are so many interesting things happening now in the memoQ world: not just speech recognition, but major ongoing improvements to terminology handling, subtitling, easier QA control... the list goes on, and the importance of any item on it will depend, of course, on the nature of an individual translator's or other service provider's work and clientele. But, really, it's not about the features. It's the people. And I think that the combined quality of the team behind the creation and support of memoQ software and the superb, mutually supportive professionals in the user community remains unbeatable for a secure professional present and a promising future in #xl8.

Lots of tasty tidbits in the latest memoQ!

Jun 25, 2018

OmegaT: free CAT tool, free webinar

Click this graphic for more information and registration....

Didier Briel, current project manager of the Open Source OmegaT CAT tool, will discuss what makes this language service community resource unique, how it can enable you to work together comfortably in teams with others who use different tools (interoperability) and other interesting matters.

Have a look and see if this is the versatile, multi-platform tool you've been looking for!

IAPTI Brings the Translation Revolution to Spain on September 28-30, 2018!

The infamous Renato Beninatto once referred to them as the Taliban of the language services world because of their ardent refusal to endorse the worst practices in translation and interpreting with which unscrupulous people hope to transform those professions into an "industry" to grind out ever cheaper and less palatable linguistic sausage. Thus the term LSP ("Linguistic Sausage Purveyor") which the bottom-dwellers of the bulk market bog so proudly embrace and claim as their own.
I mean, what else can you say about an organization that counts Noam Chomsky as one of its honored and honorary members? The stated mission and objectives of the International Association of Translators and Interpreters (IAPTI) seem to many to be beyond the scope of your usual professional organization in the language sector. If its members were all black, I suppose the term uppity would be applied often in some corporate and political power centers. Like all of us, they do sometimes fall short of their lofty goals, but as one angel commented when God cheated and pulled back Faust's immortal soul from its deserved descent into Eternal Fire,

I wasn't quite sure what to make of IAPTI in its early days; the mention of its name tended to cause excess, foamy salivation among the more staunchly neoliberal of my professional acquaintances; the concepts of international solidarity and fairness seemed so out of place in the world I knew, where the BDÜ kept a sharp eye out for cross-border incursions from colleagues in France or Poland. There was an unsettling whiff of Marxist flatulence in the air at times, though I knew a number of the organization's most active members and they seemed like reasonable, personable sorts, though they did exhibit a disturbing lack of faith in the force majeure of the large international organizations who, reminiscent of a mafia extending its influence in the neighborhood, are increasingly taking the place of smaller translation firms who know and serve their local markets or specialized clientele well.

And—Heaven forefend!—they allow no corporate membership nor are they open to the influence, much less the control of interests promoting the reduction of professional work to the unergonomic slavery of corporate post-editing of machine pseudo-translation (PEMpT) unlike, for example, the American Translators Association which seems rather eager to bend (over) their planning to accommodate conference schedules with such interests. 

On September 29-30, 2018 IAPTI will hold its international language services conference in Europe once again, in the beautiful city of Valencia, Spain. A fitting venue, I think, in a country with a long history of struggle over basic questions of decency, dignity and centralization versus local control, questions which, as recent events in Catalonia have shown us, remain to be resolved.

I attended an IAPTI conference for the first time four years ago against the violent (!) opposition of some, and I was surprised to find that even the most "radical" of its members were actually rather sober folk who took the time to research important questions carefully and who believed that the complicated effort to find a fair balance for all parties involved with language services—translators, interpreters, facilitators and service consumers—is worthwhile. I joined, and from time to time I contribute my voice to the internal democratic debate on how best to serve a very diverse international community of colleagues and help them carry out their personal and professional missions in a better way.

So this year, once again, I will be one of a number presenting ideas for how to traverse our professional and political landscape in a secure, competent and ethical way. I'll be giving a fairly dry talk on reference management, teamwork and quality assurance in legal and financial translation—nerdy, sleep-inducing technical stuff for which attendees can leave their pitchforks at home—but there will be plenty for those who prefer verbal caffeine in the many other presentations from the many excellent speakers at this year's event.

IAPTI 2018 conference logo and link
Click the conference logo to go to IAPTI's conference information and registration site!

We’ll be celebrating International Translation Day together with talk on a range of relevant practical matters in translation and interpretation while exploring some of the profession’s hot topics and most urgent ethical questions.

On the Friday September 28 before the conference there are also some free workshops in English and Spanish for early registrants.

The literary translator Emily Wilson will be there as keynote speaker give us her perspective as the first woman to translate Homer's Odyssey into English. (It's a brilliant work - I'm reading it!) 

The author of the well-respected “red book” of medical terminology and cofounder of Cosnautas, Fernando Navarro, will be giving a workshop and a presentation in Spanish. 

And veteran linguistics sage David Crystal will also pay a virtual visit to share his latest thoughts.

I hope to see you at the Valencia conference and maybe share a taste of my sweet olives, a Greek delight reborn as a Portuguese culinary specialty. Have a look at what's ahead:

Jun 24, 2018

What's missing in most training videos: found!

Five years ago more or less I wrote a post in which I optimistically declared that if I ever did a one-hour webinar I would edit it down to perhaps twenty minutes. The real problem for me was that there was an ever-growing catalog of video instructional material from Kilgray, SDL and other sources but that it was virtually impossible to find parts of a video with specific points of interest without wasting a lot of time. Long teaching videos need a time index.

In a few blog posts after that, I created some manual indices for some of my videos, but all of these required manual scrolling to get to a particular point. And then, while using TechSmith Camtasia to touch up the recording of a recent webinar I did on PDF handling with iceni InFix, I stumbled across a menu item I had not noticed before:

Timeline markers? Hmmmm. Why would something like that be needed? Unless maybe one could build an index with them? And indeed that is the case.

When exporting a local MP4 video file or uploading a video production to YouTube, for example, the dialogs contain options to use these markers and their labels (the blue texts seen in the screenshot above on the video editing timeline) to build a table of contents.

Wow. This is exactly what I wanted to do for years. And Camtasia is used by a lot of people I know, so I wonder why nobody ever mentioned this possibility or how they could all overlook it. The result looked like this on YouTube:

All the blue number codes are hotlinks that jump the video to exactly that play time. This makes it easy to refer quickly to some important point of interest and skip the rest. Now I'm not going to go back and rework all of my old translation tool tutorial videos, but I'll use this feature for any new recordings, and I hope others do the same.

The video of the PDF talk is embedded below, but as you can see, the TOC isn't available with embeddings.

But there is sort of a workaround for that problem, using sharing links that include the starting time:

Click this graphic to go to 21:42 in the video

But that won't control an embedded video in a web page - like the one above. If anybody has a solution for that, I would love to hear it.

Jun 17, 2018

Ferramentas de Tradução - CAT Tools Day at Universidade Nova de Lisboa

The Faculty of Sciences and Humanities held its first "CAT Tools Day" on June 16, 2018 with a diverse program intended to provide a lusophone overview of current best practices in the technologies to support professional translation work. The event offered standard presentation and demonstrations in a university auditorium with parallel software introduction workshops for groups of up to 18 persons in an instructional computer lab in another building.

The day began with morning sessions covering SDL Trados Studio and various aspects of speech recognition.

Dr.  Helena Moniz explains aspects of speech analysis.

I found the presentation by Dr. Helena Moniz from the University of Lisbon faculty to be particularly interesting for its discussion of the many different voice models and how these are applied to speech recognition and text-to-speech synthesis. David Hardisty of FCSH at Universidade Nova also gave a good overview of the state of speech recognition for practical translation work, including his unobtrusive methods for utilizing machine pseudo-translation capabilities in dictated translations.

Parallel introductory workshops for software tools included memoQ 8, SDL Trados Studio 2017 and ABBYY FineReader - two sessions for each.

Attendees learned about ABBYY FineReader, SDL Trados Studio and memoQ in the translation computer lab

The ABBYY FineReader session I attended gave a good overview in Portuguese of basics and good practice, including a discussion of how to avoid common mistakes when converting scanned documents in a number of languages.

The afternoon featured several short, practical presentations by students, discussions by me regarding the upcoming integrated voice input solution for memoQ and the preparation of PDF files for reference, translation, print deadline emergencies and customer relations.

Rúben Mata discusses Discord

The final session of the day was a "tools clinic" - an open Q&A about any aspect of translation technology and workflow challenges. This was a good opportunity to reinforce and elaborate on the many useful concepts and practical approaches shown throughout the day and to share ideas on how to adapt and thrive as a professional in the language services sector today.

Hosts David Hardisty and Marco Neves of FCSH plan to make this an annual event to exchange knowledge on technology and best practices in translation and editing work in discussions between practicing professionals and academics in the lusophone community. So watch for announcements of the next event in 2019!

Some of the topics of this year's conference will be explored in greater depth in three 25-hour courses offered in Portuguese and English this summer at Universidade Nova in Lisbon. On July 9th there will be a thorough course on memoQ Basics and workflows, followed by a Best Practices course on July 19th, covering memoQ and many other aspects of professional work. On September 3rd the university will offer a course on project management skills for language services, including the memoQ Server, project management business tools, file preparation and more. It is apparently also possible to get inexpensive housing at the university to attend these courses, which is quite a good thing given the rapidly rising cost of accommodation in Lisbon. Details on the housing option will be posted on this blog when I can find them.