May 18, 2014

memoQ 2014: a first look

I couldn't make it to memoQfest this year - the first one in Budapest that I have missed since the event began in 2009. But the first family visit since that same year took priority, so my exposure to the upcoming memoQ 2014 version was strictly second hand until today.

I wasn't too happy with thing I heard on the Yahoogroups user list. In fact, when I read one message describing how the new transcription feature for bitmap graphics in some files required the Product Manager version, I was quite annoyed. The reality - a whole month before the official release - is very good for both freelancers and corporate outsourcers, and I think by the time this version makes its official debut in June there will be many good reasons to smile. I'm frankly amazed at how much Kilgray seems to be getting its act together and balancing the needs of users at all levels.

This afternoon I downloaded the first test release (alpha??) of memoQ 2014, installed it and began to take a cautious tour. My first impression was that it looked the same. And then, bit by bit, subtle and excellent small differences began to emerge. I looked for and found major new features I had heard about and discovered many interesting things not mentioned along the way.

The grammar checking feature seems to be implemented in a sensible way, though it actually doesn't work at all right now for me. But I can see where it's headed, and it is going in a good direction.

I had a quick look at the new plug-ins, particularly TaaS, and made notes about testing the potential for teamwork. What I have seen of TaaS for its much-advertised terminology extraction is a huge disappointment, and those who have followed my comments on Twitter will know I have nothing good to say about this EU boondoggle, but I see potential for other possibilities that nobody has really talked about, and if my instinct is right, this could be really useful. But I will need to invest a lot of testing time for the approach I have in mind.

The Project home view has gotten even more impossibly cluttered with the addition of "People", a rather sensible reworking of role assignments that even in the Translator Pro version clearly acknowledges that most freelance translators are not, in fact, 'islands' in their work.

This will surely make the small screen (netbook) usage problems worse if Kilgray does not redesign the view a bit, but in every other respect I see this as a significant improvement of project workflow, emphasizing the relationships between project participants in a better way.

One little bit that I stumbled across was the new way of handling the export of unfinished translations. This is a nice way of recognizing the frequent pressure in some projects to export incomplete stages of work.

I have had ways of dealing with this need for years in memoQ, but this new approach will make things simpler and obvious for all users.

There is a nice little feature for tracking time too:

This will facilitate record keeping for some jobs involving time charges.

The feature I have looked at in some depth so far, which makes me very happy, is Kilgray's very sophisticated handling of embedded objects and graphics, which sets new standards in many ways. I think there is still a key feature missing to make it the equal of OmegaT for handling charts with data stored as XML in the MS Office file (though I have not had time to check this yet), but what I have seen so far goes way beyond similar features I have seen in STAR Transit and Déjà Vu X2.

Embedded objects and images are imported as separate files from within the media and embeddings folders of the Microsoft Office file. I see a few potential problems with the current way of displaying a file and its objects and media. I've had projects with multiple files having embedded Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint slides and other objects as well as any number of pictures needing to be localized. One recent project had 59 spreadsheets embedded in a DOCX file. Without an accordion or tree structure to collapse the subordinate structure view and show the embedded content again, the overview will be lost quickly. But this is a very good start. Note how the main file includes a count of the segments in the subordinate objects and graphics. (And take note of the new progress bar with different colors for different process stages like translation and proofreading.)

Bitmap texts can be recorded with a new transcription feature, which is also compatible with voice recognition. I dictated my German source texts with Dragon Naturally Speaking set to German, then switched to English for the translation. And of course the bitmap transcriptions are included in the word counts of the Statistics functions and the translations are written to the translation memory. I believe this is utterly unique in translation environment tools. Fluency has a transcription module too, of course, but its purpose and application are very different.

The exported translations with translated objects will look like they are not done at present, because the difficult refresh problem has not been solved by Kilgray. Each translated spreadsheet, slide, etc. will need to be opened in the document before the translation will become visible. This is much easier using the macro I published two years ago, and I am certain that by release time or soon thereafter Kilgray will find an elegant way of dealing with this difficulty. Atril handles the same problem by distributing macros as I recall.

In the recent Kilgray blog post on the six reasons to upgrade to memoQ 2014, the only overlap with the above points is the image localization. Peter Reynolds talks instead about other good stuff, such as the long-awaited project templates and Language Terminal. There are so many nice things ahead with this upgrade that we'll all just have to take it slowly, one bit at a time.

Of course the usual precautions for any new software version apply. The new version can be installed in parallel to your current version, and it can be tested while you continue to do the bulk of your work in the older, stable version. Typically it takes a few months for any new version to get the kinks out, but this allows plenty of time for planning the transition and preparing to take full advantage of the new features relevant to you. Migration is also not a trivial matter in many cases, but this time around there may be a little more help with that. More on that another time!

May 14, 2014

Using resources from memoQ cloud backups on the desktop

In January this year, I published a few posts describing the memoQ cloud service, which is part of Kilgray's Language Terminal. This is an excellent, cost-effective alternative for coordinated work by small groups and organizations who are not well equipped logistically or financially for maintaining their own server facilities and licenses and who work with a fairly limited number of persons. One of the nice aspects about this SaaS facility is that it can be subscribed on an as-needed basis and "turned off" for those periods where it is not required. Backups can be made as needed.

After a period of testing and use for a larger translation project with some of my tutorials, I suspended the subscription and made a backup file of all the projects from that time.

After logging into my Language Terminal account, I went to Profile > memoQ. There I clicked the Get backup link near the bottom of the window.

A screen appeared with some information related to the intended backup, and I clicked a second Get backup link.

A Save dialog appeared for the backup (BAK) file.

The backup file (like so many "packages" is simply a renamed ZIP archive. I unpacked it to obtain a folder with the contents of what was once my online memoQ cloud account with all its projects and resources.

The various resources are organized in folders (with self-explanatory names in some cases).

Here's a look at LiveDocs resources (corpora) from my memoQ cloud account.

Inside the folder for an individual LiveDocs corpus, things look the same as they do for any local corpus for memoQ.

The same is true for all other resources. The screenshot above shows the inside of a TM folder in the backup, in this case the TM for the Portuguese translation of my Quick Steps tutorials.

Any of the resources in the backup can be loaded in a local memoQ installation of the correct version by importing (light resources) or using the Register Local function (for TMs, termbases and LiveDocs corpora). It's that simple.

The BAK file can be restored online in my Language Terminal account if I decide to renew it after the three month storage period in which dormant account resources are maintained at no cost. So I can pick up where I left off even a year later without incurring charges in times when I am not engaged in team projects requiring the use of memoQ cloud!

May 6, 2014

Stridonium talks: English legal contracts with Stuart Bugg

Guest post by attendee John Edmund Hynd
On Sunday April 27th and Monday April 28th 2014 Stridonium hosted the first in a series of three workshops met at Hotel HoogHolten, in a converted 1919 English-style hunting lodge in the Salland National Park at Holten in the Dutch province of Overijssel.
Forest pathways around the venue
After a delicious networking dinner the evening before, we learnt about everything to do with English legal contracts from our speaker Stuart Bugg from New Zealand and England who together with his German-born wife practices law in and around Nuremberg in the Bavarian province of Franconia.

Stuart’s easy-going and approachable style put us all immediately at our ease, enabling participants from Belgium, Germany, England and the Netherlands to make constructive comments throughout the course of the day. Participants, all experienced legal translators and interpreters, were invited to ask questions during the talk, and this led to lively and informative discussions with everyone getting answers and helpful suggestions to their own specific questions and translation challenges.
Workshop setting: the library
During the morning we learnt about the ‘Great Divide’, the ‘Three Musketeers’, what constitutes a ‘deed’, ‘cross-system contracts’, ‘forum shopping’, why English common law has no ‘law of obligations’, what ‘equity’ is, why we do not have ‘movable’ and/or ‘immovable’ property in common law, why we do not have enforceable penalties in English law contracts, why not all contracts have to be in writing to be valid, what ‘fitness for purpose’ is as well as ‘merchantability’ and/or ‘satisfactory quality’, when is ‘delivery’ nothing to do with sending a contract by registered post, what ‘bailment’ is, who is a ‘bailor’ or a ‘bailee’ and when does adding a glossary at the end of your translation become essential? 

We then adjourned for lunch and were treated to an excellent hot meal of mustard soup, fish and dessert before starting the afternoon session where we dealt largely with legal English terminology and more specific problems related to translation work.

The speaker, the stunning setting, the lush show that Mother Nature had put on for us, the participants and the helpful hotel staff all conspired to make this seminar well worthwhile. The entire group looks forward to Stuart’s next two seminars on Legal Drafting scheduled for May 25th and 26th and Commercial Law on June 1st and 2nd at the same delightful venue.

John is Anglo-Dutch and an official legal translator and interpreter based in the south of the Netherlands (Eindhoven), where he has been tackling legal translations for almost 20 years, building on the extensive knowledge of Canon Law imparted to him at Innsbruck by Prof Johannes Muehlsteiger S.J.

May 3, 2014

Dey wanna be like U!

Dear Mr/Ms,

We are a new, aspiring translation and interpreting office at the Munich Zoo. Please visit our web site to get to know us.

We are contacting you today because we might be able to offer you a large assignment for translation or review. We are taking part in a request for tender from the German Federal Ministry of Monkey Business.

If we are awarded the contract we will receive German text of a general political, legal, economic, engineering or scientific character which is to be translated into Englisch. The project is expected to begin at the end of May or beginning of June and must be delivered no later than July 10th. The order will be about 20,000 pages or 5 million words altogether.

Are you generally interested in being part of this project?

One requirement to participate is the use of a CAT tool, because the client will give us a list of terminology. If you do not have your own CAT tool, we can lay you Across our knee and provide you with access to ours.

We offer you a fee of 7 peanuts per word for translation, 3 peanuts per word for review and, for successful contribution to the project, a bunch of ripe bananas and a written reference confirming your successful participation in this big project. Of course your successful collaboration will be followed by offers of many other translation projects ;-)

If you are interested in this assignment we look forward to your positive response. Please submit the attached non-disclosure agreement, signed, no later than April 28, 2014 along with your CV emphasizing your expertise in the subject and a reference list of your customers from the past three years. 

Thank you very much for your understanding and cooperation.

We look forward to your response and the possibility of working together.

Your lingoking Team

Ima Dyantochukup

lingoking GmbH

Alas, I had intended to post this opportunity last week in time for hungry colleagues to take advantage, but such is the way of the profession that ones like it will surely come again. If you hang out near the seedy watering holeZ of wordworkers, you may hear these summons to the feeding trough often enough, CALLING ALL TRANSLATORS!!!

The "crowdmanager" title is real. Seriously. I had to wonder what a corporate or government client must think when seeing such a title in the signature of an e-mail with a service quotation. Most of those I have met would rather not have their texts masticated and regurgitated by a crowd and feel that qualifications generally ought to go beyond a CAT tool and opposable thumbs. But then I try to hang out farther up in the rainforest canopy where the branches usually won't support big, fat snakes and other predators.

The request for the list of clients from the past three years is also real. Quite up front, unlike the attempt of the owner of the now-defunct Language Promotion in Zurich to get a list of my clients and their contact details by using a false name and posing as a medical device company prospect with a €50,000 project. But just as sleazy in its own way. Think about it. If I want to be a lazy sneak about my marketing in an area I target, I could post a "potential" job on a translation workhouse board, specifying the desired subject and qualification profile and demanding any number of specific references for past translation work in that area, and I then have a good list with which to begin approaching the clients of these suckers and selling my own services. It happens. There are also frequent enough instances of CVs submitted to fraudulent service providers who then use that information to impersonate translators that one ought to consider how such information should be restricted and protected and whether it should be provided at all. In some cases I may refer someone to a professional association directory or official list of court-sworn translators in which I am listed, where there has already been some rigorous screening of certain qualifications. The occasional suggestions one sees of "profiles" or marketing-oriented qualification summaries rather than a résumé or CV are also worth listening to and considering. I haven't heard a peep of complaint from anyone receiving one of these. It's perfectly legitimate to want to know a bit about the person with whom one intends to do business, and this often covers that need more than adequately.

The above call to swinging translators is also typical of the recurring problem of a great number of unscrupulous language sausage providers (LSPs) suckering translators into providing their details for large EU or other government tenders. These companies often bait and switch, using the records of highly experienced, qualified professionals to get the contract, but with most or all the actual work being done by cheaper and off much less qualified persons willing to accept a handful of shells for their work, the peanuts inside taken to feed the more deserving zookeepers. I'm not saying one should never support a business partner in an RFP, not at all. But be sure that you are really dealing with a partner, and perhaps consider a few terms of your own. Next time I have occasion to chat with a qualified attorney for contract law, I would be curious to see what that individual might think of a binding, signed letter of agreement from an authorized representative guaranteeing a certain volume of business upon the condition of a successful submission for the tender.

Many of these tenders are, I am told, open to individuals or at least smaller organizations, and it might be worth considering submissions with a favored small agency or a team of trusted colleagues rather than support a sausage producer with business goals which may be at odds with values you hold. Information on European public procurement can be found here: Others which may be of interest:
(Thank you to colleague Christine Schmit for providing those links!)