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May 8, 2021

The official memoQ blog


There's been a lot more activity lately on the official blog for memoQ, maintained by the software artists formerly known as Kilgray. Some really good stuff too. The blog has existed for years, but I never added it to the blog roll here (see the left sidebar, down a bit), because various technical issues prevented updates from being seen as new content was added. And it also wasn't really that active, as the principal team members were focused on day to day matters of support and development.

But as the rest of the CAT tools market has increasingly come to resemble episodes of Star Trek: TNG, with RWS now playing the role of the Borgs as they  swallow one company after another, purge management of competence and independent thinking, then move on to the next anti-competitive, destructive acquisition, the last remaining independent CAT tool vendor with no compromising ties to intragroup LSPs competing with its technology customers, has really started getting its act together again.

Since the reorganization of memoQ Ltd. and the appointment of co-CEOs – co-founder Balázs Kis and Peter Reynolds – the company has been focused once again on its growing "technical debt", much to the relief of key staff with whom I've discussed development privately. 

Communication has become clearer and more consistent, and it looks like the good path of managing the flagship product memoQ, which really became apparent with the version 8.4 release under the competent coordination of Senior Product Owner Zsolt Varga and which has continued its winning streak making the software more flexible and responsive for evolving project needs. And the new Customer Marketing Manager Cedomir Pusica is strongly focused on making learning assets better and more accessible, expressing a strong interest in building a stronger user base through real, best practice education resources. I am very, very encouraged by most of what I see this year.

So check out their blog. There have been times lately when I read something there and thought "Damn, wish I had written that. Good job!" That wasn't such a frequent thought in years past, when it was sometimes clear that the post writer didn't really understand the features being discussed. What I read now meets my personal standards for useful content. (I admit to having some catch-up to do with the reading, but every time I look now, I end up smiling.)

I'll still be writing my own stuff on memoQ in my own way and doing education and consulting for friends and colleagues in the sector at all levels as before. But in recent years, after the retirement of my companheira, my energies are less invested in public matters, and only a small part of my writing, tutorial video work, custom development and whatnot is released publicly. There is a backlog of some hundreds of draft blog articles and many hours of raw and edited research video, recorded webinars and online tutorials that only occasionally see light with a few individuals who need them.

Really, its time to absorb what's useful out there, make it your own in your own professional environment and your own languages. Large parts of the translation sector remind me a bit of the Republican Party in the US, campaigning on their own Big Lies with regard to "AI", NMT and other recent fads, with an utter disregard of ethical issues and serious, disturbing occupational health concerns for those working with machine-generated texts (cf. Bevan et alia and published research at the University of Groningen, Netherlands, for example). It's really about the concentration of power and the disenfranchisement of individual professionals when you think about it. RWS: "You will be absorbed!" Renato B.: "Quality doesn't matter!" TWB: "Screw the local service markets, we need your free work to feed the machine translation engines of our corporate sponsors!" "BOHICA, baby!" And so on. Same as it ever was.

In the midst of all that noise, the memoQ team still offers a signal that can guide real professionals to better ways of working and less frustration. Sometimes it's hard to pick that signal up, but it is indeed there. And with improvements to their blog and a renewed commitment to serviceable education, that signal is getting stronger

Apr 19, 2021

Free webinar: memoQ Server skills for teams!


Note: this webinar has already taken place. A download link for the presentation slides (with links to unlisted instructional videos) is available below, as is some Q&A from the live session... there will be an online course offered soon for teams and project managers using memoQ Servers, so watch this blog for the announcement.

This Friday (April 23rd, 2021 at 2 pm Central European Time), I'll be giving an English-language talk via Zoom discussing my approach to using the memoQ Server and teaching others to do so for workflows involving small teams. These might be groups of collaborating independent service providers, in-house and freelance staff supporting translation and editing services in corporations or at boutique translation agencies, or university and continuing education courses with instructors and a group of student PMs and translators. This talk is not designed to cover the perceived needs of behemoths inhabiting the bulk market bog. 

I will discuss the use of the memoQ Server and the hosted memoQ Cloud service with particular attention on user management, permissions, project workflows and resource availability. The last point also includes ideas for using a memoQ server as a platform to make some working "light resources" available which may be beyond the scope of a particular project.

There is no charge for the live webinar, though there will be a fee for those who wish to obtain a downloadable copy later. The recording will also be part of the reference resources provided in a professional continuing education course to be announced soon after some details on certified hour credits are worked out with the relevant Portuguese labor authorities and their representatives.

Register for the webinar here:

(registration now closed - see below for the presentation slides and Q&A)

I welcome all of you who are able to join me this week, and any others who may attend the online server skills course later or have particular training or problem-solving needs in this area.


Lecture slides can be downloaded HERE.


Questions & answers from the session:

What does "CAL" mean for licenses?
These are "floating" licenses, not attached to a specific user unless you assign them. 
(from Ellen Singer) : CAL (Concurrent Access Licensing)

Does a separate translator login also work when you want to work in your local client and only have a PM license and Webtrans licenses for a memoQ cloud subscription, No Translator Pro?
In that case you can assign a CAL license for some period of time (see the screenshot above), and this will make it available for offline use in a desktop edition of memoQ. For a basic memoQ Cloud subscription with just the PM license, it would be that PM license assigned (presumably) to you.

What are the advantages of a privately-run / hosted MemoQ server, over MemoQ cloud?
Several perhaps.
  • You have full control over all file paths. You don't have access to all file paths in memoQ Cloud. The only place I can see where that makes a real difference is when changing default resources as I described in my old blog post on that subject, but I think that is an important option for many company teams.
  • Maybe some economic advantage in the short or long run. A memoQ Server at your site represents a significant capital investment, and there are maintenance fees (about 20% of acquisition cost, isn't it?) incurred each year for support and upgrades. A memoQ Cloud subscription is a fairly manageable expense if it's small, but with a lot of licenses or added options like Qterm, customer portal, etc. it can be a pretty hefty monthly expense, though one which can be adjusted up or down as needed. And memoQ Cloud subscriptions can be suspended or reactivated as needed. Really, you would have to model the costs of each approach in a spreadsheet (or similar manner of calculation) to compare and determine definitively which approach gives you the greatest advantage.

    I do believe that even for owners/operators of private memoQ Servers, the memoQ Cloud subscription (trial or paid) offers a superb platform for testing new versions, other "sandbox" work including development which will not endanger your production server and arms-length special projects with outside partners.

Can you create an unlimited number of Users, regardless of the number of licenses you purchased?
Indeed you can. Configured user logins can be configured in any number and have nothing whatsoever to do with any number of licenses you may have available. But if your access maximum for licenses has been reached at any given time, a configured user may have to wait some time until a current active (logged-in) user logs off the server so somebody else can get in to work.

We’ve been using mQ Server for a while now, and you tackled a few very interesting points. (Esp. concerning access control in case of PM accounts.)
With regard to access, I think there are two very important things to do, remember, configure, etc.
  • Use separate logins for your work as a PM or administrator and any work you may do as a translator/reviewer. These can have the same password for your convenience if you like. But for God's sake, use TWO SEPARATE LOG-INS. This will help you "stay in your lane" for a given role and prevent accidents. If you are logged in using an account that has project manager or administrative access privileges, you cannot easily tell sometimes (or may overlook) where you ought not to be working, and this can lead to difficulties.
  • "Permissions" can be used to restrict or enable access to any memoQ resources available on the server. This is not an easy topic to get your head around if you are unfamiliar with how permissions and access work in general on computers, especially in server environments, and anything you configure should be tested to ensure that you got the configuration right. The memoQ Help is rather good on this point and should be read and re-read and re-read and re-read carefully, and if there are doubts remaining, ask memoQ Support or other experts for advice.

    A useful example of using "permissions" might be to assign an individual "Review" privileges to a specific TM or term base, enabling that person to do many maintenance operations on that resource which might otherwise be possible only with PM or general "terminologist" access. This approach would give a specialist for a rare language access to the specified resource(s) at a higher level, but that person's access would be more limited for other, similar resources (assuming there is no relevant group membership assigned that would provide such access.

Is it possible to do bulk changes to the permissions of more than one server resource at once?
Yes. Select the resources desired by control-clicking (for a discontinuous group) or shift-clicking (for a range in the list) and choose the "Set permissions" command. Changes made should apply to all the resources selected.

You mentioned a book on MemoQ. If so, can you let me have the title.
The book I mentioned in this talk is Marek Pawelec's excellent guide to the use of machine translation resources - including the extremely valuable pseudotranslation function. Information on that guide can be found here.

Feb 24, 2021

A memoQ must-have: the definitive guide to MT use!

People who know me and my work know that I have a very low opinion of machine translation use in most language service situations. Even in the best scenarios, it offers no value to me in my routine work as a translator of scientific and intellectual property texts (patent filings and litigation mostly). So why am I totally excited about the new e-book by my friend and colleague Marek Pawelec? For several reasons.

  • MT discussions bore the crap out of me. But when Marek asked me to review a pre-release copy, I was actually entertained by his clear, concise writing and the superb way he explained basic concepts of resource management in general that most memoQ users still don't master. I was shocked at how much fun I had reading about a subject I hate!
  • He talks about more than just how to configure memoQ to use DeepL, Gargle Trashlate or some other MT engine. He details strategies and best practices for effective use that many people might not be aware of. He talks about how to circumvent prohibitions on MT use and how to catch people who do that. And more. I didn't learn something on every page, but it's probably not an exaggeration to say I did on every other one.
  • Pseudo-translation using a special plug-in for the Pre-translation step is covered in wonderful detail. This technique has been very important to my work for nearly 20 years now. I use it to identify hard-coded interface strings in software I translate and to check and quote large documents that might have paragraphs or whole pages scanned and inserted as graphics that look like editable text - or charts whose text can be selected in the document but never show up on the memoQ working grid after import. Marek also discusses other uses of pseudo-translation I never thought of (layout checks, for example) which could have saved me a lot of grief over the years.
The only complaint I have about this book is that it's too cheap. The author teaches me more in its 36 pages than most can in 200 pages, and the learning is worth a Hell of a lot more to my business than fifty cents per page. Anyone else would probably have written much more and communicated far less of value, but that's a special gift that Marek has. Long ago, his talk at a memoQ Fest was the first time that regular expressions (regex) made any sense to me (as a casual programmer for about 40 years at the time I had approached the topic many times and mostly just found confusion). There aren't many people in this world who can take complex topics and make them seem simple and interesting to nearly anyone. Marek can. Richard Feynman could. I can't name many more on that list.

So... all I can really add is to tell you to go spend €18 here:

The value you'll receive as a memoQ user at any level, even if you never use machine translation, is a large multiple of that price.

Update 2021-03-22
The Polish version of the book is now available at: