dimanche, juin 21, 2009

Essential translation business tools

Did I have a clue how many tools I depend on to run my business?

Not until my computer started to show clear signs of needing a major Spring-cleaning.

My husband will attest that I’m OK with the daily tidying up bit, but ask me to sort out closets and I run for the hills. My computer is more persuasive: “reinstall my OS from scratch or you’ll eat my dust.”

So I chose Saturday to overhaul my C:/ drive. I back up work everyday and do a full back up once a week, so I was all set to go. I figured I’d be done by lunch and be free to enjoy the rest of the day.

Yeah, right (mumbled in a very New York tempo). Like with your toothbrush, coffee maker, and ergonomic pillow, some things are so taken for granted you forget they are there and that you use them everyday. By dinnertime, I had just reinstalled XP Pro, all the drivers, and my essential business tools: what I absolutely cannot face Monday morning without. I had not even gotten to the stack of useful but more creative software (need another free day or two for those!).

Maybe novice or not too tech savvy colleagues will find something useful in this post, and I hope tech junkies will add suggestions to this list of resources. I’ll skip the basics – MS Office, firewall, anti-virus, Internet navigator, Adobe Reader.

My CAT tool is Wordfast Classic, which I use mainly for quality control and individual client glossary development purposes. Repetitions and fuzzy matches are not an issue in the type of work I do, but Wordfast boosts my efficiency and ensures I use client-specific terminology.

In addition to a host of online and paper resources, the Robert Collins French-English digital dictionary is practical when I’m on the go. We all know relying on MS’ spelling and grammar checker is risky and that’s where tools such as Stylewriter for American English or Antidote for French come in: they catch many (OK, not all!) bloopers – by v. buy for example – flag jargon you might want to avoid, zero in on spacing errors, and help you tighten up your final copy. Antidote also includes style guides, an extensive French dictionary, regional variant options, and thesaurus. For publication work in English, The Chicago Manual of Style digital version is an essential companion.

TO3000 and related applications from the great folks at AIT Software make running my business a heck of a lot easier. Quotes, invoicing, tracking payments, and managing work files are a tidy breeze. If you need to assess your productivity, know how much time you really spent on a project, or provide your client with proof of your work hours, then Time Stamp from Syntap Software is a great option.

Data preservation and safety are big issues. I back up work in progress every evening, automatically, with Mozy. If you click on this link and start using Mozy, then both of us will get an extra 256 MB of free storage space (thanks!). If your data gets corrupted or erased somehow, restoring those precious files securely with Mozy is a cakewalk.

Though I have a Gmail account, I prefer dealing with my e-mail off-line, with Outlook. To protect my computer from spam and malicious files, I use MailWasher. If you only have one e-mail account, then the free version will suit you. If you have several, go with the Pro version. MailWasher lets to see all incoming e-mail before it hits your computer (at which time, it is usually too late), set friends and blacklists, delete or bounce e-mail, and restore e-mail you might have deleted accidentally.

What are some of your favorite “I can’t face Monday morning without” tools, aside from a perfectly brewed cup of java?

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