Jun 22, 2019

Smartling vs. Easyling: the court has spoken!



The first time I heard of "Smartling" was when Miguel Llorens wrote an exposé of the new company's rather dubious Spanish website quality. That was 2012, bad timing for a company in the first stages of acquiring many millions of venture capital financing. Certainly not the time one wants to see negative publicity like Miguel wrote. But all that didn't interest me; he and I were scheduled to debate machine pseudo-translation advocates at a conference in Warsaw that September. Yet another funky little startup without much to offer beyond the usual hype for idiots was really not enough to get on anyone's radar given the broader trend of deprofessionalization and war on independent service providers.

But Miguel never made it to that debate. Shortly before the conference he went silent, and when I finally got news through mutual friends, it was that his mother had already returned to Venezuela with his ashes. The circumstances of his death were never really resolved as far as I know; it was hot in Madrid at the time, a real heat wave, and the body wasn't found for some time.

Fast forward a couple of years. A well-financed Smartling is engaged in a full-court press on the market, but not yet of the judicial variety. Despite denials from some company employees, there was still incomprehensible, low-quality machine-translated content to be found on the site - for Dutch and German at least when I checked. But CEO Stormin' Jack and his sidekick VP of something-or-other Nataly Kelly (she of CSA fame with those bogus estimates of rate drops in translatiom that were used as a cudgel against independent service providers) were busy networking, making contacts among "influencers" and seemingly buying whomever was for sale. They tried it on with me, certainly, and I found it fascinating to study their methods. I had not seen some of those sophisticated moves since my days of footsie with FBI counterintelligence.

And the rounds of VC financing went on and on I'm told. "Shades of Thanatos!" I thought at one point, though really, Jack is no Elizabeth Holmes. There were a few associated with translation service companies who loudly rang the bell for Smartling and all it had to offer; Terena's bell rang a bit hollow to my ear, and sure enough, before long she bailed out on the translation sector to do other, better and presumably more profitable things.

So what does one do when flush with cash but the dog and pony show is just filling the stage with dogshit and horse apples, and your competition does something much like you do, but more transparently and perhaps more functionally? Double down on research & development? That's not The American Way today! Why you sue, you do, sweep those pesky foreign companies from the market in a legal campaign of Shock and Awe.

Except that sometimes common sense and justice prevails in the legal arena, and all your money won't buy you love... or victory. See above.

Jun 11, 2019

Ergonomic optimization for memoQ windows & more!

Click the graphic to see the mind-blowing details of all you can get on two silly little screens. Imagine two big ones!

How many functional windows do you see for working in the memoQ project of the screenshot here? Do you need more? It's possible. Are you familiar with all the functions shown in this two-screen view of my laptop and a repurposed television screen on my working holiday?

Of course one need not be restricted to just the many undockable, resizable and relocatable windows of memoQ; other, third-party like the SDL MultiTerm Widget (for searching SDL term bases in memoQ or other applications) or IntelliWebSearch, which offers many customized, configurable multi-tab web searches with the browser engine of your choice, or others can be added as needed.

"But wait!", you say. "You can't undock memoQ windows except for the preview, and it's impossible to get enough space to see all the information in the Translation Results pane or see the comparison of large matches well!" Well, here you can. The Translation Results hit list can take the whole height of your screen if you want it to. And you can even see more than one translation and editing grid for files if you need to.

Just because memoQ Support or some expert in the company says stuff like that is not possible doesn't make it so. For something like a decade now I have heard users ask for a lot of layout customization features to improve working ergonomics in memoQ. Heck, I've heard myself beg for that for ages. But typically, one is told how difficult and expensive such efforts are, how there are other priorities, yada yada yada. What, apparently, nobody realized was that while all these discussions were going on, someone actually implemented the requested features, deliberately or otherwise. In any case, somehow that secret never got out. Until I stumbled over it last week while trying to enjoy a few days at the beach.

"How do I get there?" you and David Byrne may ask. Join us for the Best Practices in Translation Technology course from 15 to 20 July (next month) in Lisbon and find out! Or wait until I get around to opening my upcoming online courses, Working Ergonomics in memoQ and New Beginnings with memoQ 9.0, coming soon. Or look in all those memoQ basics tutorials from memoQ Translation Technologies Ltd. on YouTube - something as basic as ergonomics for using the software must be in there somewhere. Or maybe not. Yet.

Or... explore and discover the tricks yourself. And while you're at it, you might find some of the other hidden surprises cleverly concealed in the world's greatest translation environment toolkit.

Jun 4, 2019

Best Practices in Translation Technology - summer school in Lisbon (July 2019)

UPDATE: The course registration deadline is Sunday, June 23rd!

Once again this year, I'll be team teaching a course with David Hardisty and Marco Neves (in English, open to all, with enrollment limited) at Universidade Nova de Lisboa (the New University in Lisbon, Portugal) on topics for best practice applying technology for more efficient and effective translation processes.
Click the graphic above to go to the Portuguese information page!
Details for costs (about €150 for those not enrolled at the university) are available here in English; the course instructors will assist those who cannot read Portuguese registration pages to register and handle other details as needed.

This year's topics include:
– Good translation workflows. 
– Using voice recognition in translation. 
– Using machine translation in a humane, intelligent way. 
– Using checklists to improve communication in translation. 
– Using glossaries, bilingual texts and other references in multiplatform environments. 
– Good practices for using terminology and reference texts in the target language. 
– Planning and creating lists for "autotranslatables" and the basics of "regular expressions" for filters.

There are some unannounced extras, but those will remain secret for now :-) And as time permits, individual challenges of course participants can also be addressed by the experts leading the course.

This is about as good as it gets for training costs; the university tuition is ridiculously low, and the 25 hours of instruction during the week of 15 to 20 July cost less than most half-day workshops while delivering far more. If it were up to me, I would probably increase the cost ten-fold, but that's because I'm a practical business person who understands commercial value, not a university administrator :-)

The course requires a basic knowledge of memoQ in advance, but much of the material goes well beyond that CAT tool. As always, integrated work with other environments, such as SDL Trados Studio and Wordfast is taught and emphasized.

The complete cost information (in Portuguese) is here: http://fcsh.unl.pt/formacao-ao-longo-da-vida/escola-de-verao/inscricoes

The direct registration page in Portuguese (where you will need to mark "Boas Práticas de Tecnologia para Tradução/Best Practices in Translation Technology" at the bottom) is here: http://www.fcsh.unl.pt/formacao-ao-longo-da-vida/escola-de-verao/inscricoes/escola-de-verao

We hope you can join us!

Regular expressions in memoQ demystified - THE workshop!

Next week in Utrecht there will be a unique workshop to enhance your productivity with memoQ, as you learn how to develop rules for automated formatting and QA of patterned expressions, such as dates, currency expressions, unusual or custom text formats and more. THIS knowledge is one of those "secret weapons" that I deploy to help the most sophisticated financial and legal translators I know save countless hours of mind-numbing donkey work doing QA on things like legal references and expressions involving currency (such as EUR 3 million vs. €3m, etc.) or creating those references in the first place and inserting them in the translation with a simple keystroke.

The course instructor, Marek Pawelec, is one of my personal resources when I am in over my head on technical problems or when I need to be very sure that a client of mine gets the right help in time. He has a rare gift of taking subject matter which many find baffling and presenting in a way that makes it accessible to most any educated adult.

Because of the scope of this subject matter and the importance of proper follow-up and support while learning it, the workshop will be held over two days - June 10 and 11 (Monday and Tuesday) - from 10 am to 4 pm each day, which will give plenty of time to learn the basics and move on to apply your new technical skills to common and not-so-common technical challenges in translation projects where memoQ is involved.

Trust me on this one: we are talking about critical process secrets to save massive amounts of time and do better work on things like annual reports, court briefs and more. Or creating projects for text formats that seem impossible to work with at first glance. THIS is where the money is in an increasingly competitive market.

Information to register now can be found on the Facebook event page for the workshop or on the relevant Regex Workshop page for the host, the All Round Translator education cooperative in the Netherlands.