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Clients who send document images from their cell phones
Thread poster: LegalTransform

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:51
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Oct 21, 2015

Has anyone else been getting more and more translation requests with bad .jpg images of documents taken with the client's cell phone (often with text that is illegible and fuzzy - meaning hard to read, not fuzzy as in the matching scam)?

For old schoolers like me who like to work off of a printed copy, the ink costs more than the job.

And I imagine that those who like to do every job with a CAT tool for some strange reason, can't OCR a cell phone image of a birth certificate.

[Edited at 2015-10-21 17:20 GMT]


 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:51
German to English
Illegible copy almost a thing of the past Oct 21, 2015

I haven't received a fax to translate in quite some time, and I'm glad of it. Until yesterday, it had been a long while since getting a scanned PDF. I had forgotten how to configure my OCR program. That added to the time it took to translate the text with my CAT tool which contained a lot of the document terminology/phrasing in the TM.

Back in the day when faxes were more common, I used to fantasize about creating a font "Times Roman (illegible)".


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:51
Member (2008)
Italian to English
...and another thing.... Oct 21, 2015

Jeff Whittaker wrote:

Not really. However, has anyone else been getting more and more translation requests with bad .jpg images of documents taken with the client's cell phone (often with text that is illegible and fuzzy - meaning hard to read, not fuzzy as in the matching scam)?

For old schoolers like me who like to work off of a printed copy, the ink costs more than the job.

And I imagine that those who like to do every job with a CAT tool for some strange reason, can't OCR a cell phone image of a birth certificate.

[Edited at 2015-10-21 16:18 GMT]


...and another thing....why is the sound quality on cellphones so diabolically poor?

...and another thing....the mother of a friend of mine, who was very old (R.I.P.) used to believe that when you sent a fax, the machine rolled up the paper into a really tight thin stick, which was then sent down the telephone wire. I don't miss the fax machine - I used to hate those rolls of paper.


 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:51
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Topic title changed Oct 21, 2015

I changed the title since people were focusing more on my ironic statement about fax machines (of course, I don't miss them) and not on people taking horrible photos of their documents and expecting us to read and translate them.

Kevin Fulton wrote:

Back in the day when faxes were more common, I used to fantasize about creating a font "Times Roman (illegible)".



That would be the same font used by the Peanuts cartoons when adults speak:

[Edited at 2015-10-21 17:20 GMT]


 

Jean Lachaud  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:51
English to French
+ ...
Been there, done that Oct 21, 2015

Yes, I've had the same experience. I keep asking people to send me a "good copy," a phrase whose meaning seems to have been lost, together with civility, general culture, common sense and all those quaint, now-forgotten, qualities that adults used to instill into children.

+1 about the cost of ink, too.




Jeff Whittaker wrote:

Has anyone else been getting more and more translation requests with bad .jpg images of documents taken with the client's cell phone (often with text that is illegible and fuzzy - meaning hard to read, not fuzzy as in the matching scam)?

For old schoolers like me who like to work off of a printed copy, the ink costs more than the job.

And I imagine that those who like to do every job with a CAT tool for some strange reason, can't OCR a cell phone image of a birth certificate.

[Edited at 2015-10-21 17:20 GMT]


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:51
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
LOL! Oct 22, 2015

Kevin Fulton wrote:
I haven't received a fax to translate in quite some time, and I'm glad of it.

I haven't HAD a fax machine for two years now and am happy to have left the darned contraption out of the door in my last move.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 11:51
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Adjust your rate sheet Oct 22, 2015

Jeff Whittaker wrote:
Has anyone else been getting more and more translation requests with bad JPG images of documents taken with the client's cell phone (often with text that is illegible and [hazy])?


No, but I suppose it's coming. More and more people are using tablets and cellphones only, whereas in previous decades many more people used laptops and desktop computers. The solution is to set your rates accordingly, or to reject such jobs outright.

For old schoolers like me who like to work off of a printed copy, the ink costs more than the job.


Don't you have a minimum fee?

And I imagine that those who like to do every job with a CAT tool ... can't OCR a cell phone image of a birth certificate.


No, but those of us who do use CAT tools and accept scanned, faxed or handwritten files typically use OCR only if the image quality is very good, i.e. we type the source text first, and then translate it. This is reflected in the rate we charge, too.


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 11:51
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I charge for time spent faffing about, too Oct 22, 2015

Samuel Murray wrote:

... those of us who do use CAT tools and accept scanned, faxed or handwritten files typically use OCR only if the image quality is very good, i.e. we type the source text first, and then translate it. This is reflected in the rate we charge, too.


OCR is improving if the image is legible, but until recently I found any attempt at OCR was often worse than the original, because the software was only geared to 26 letters in the alphabet, so it could not cope reliably with the fact that my source language has 29. I expect the same applied to many languages with diacritics or whatever you call them.

So NO reductions for fuzzy matches, and I actually charge extra for messing about with formatting etc.

I have only once received an image sent from a cell phone... The client was on holiday, and he had to get his secretary to send me a decent image of the original from the office anyway. I think he learned his lesson!! It was a certificate that I couldn't OCR anyway, but I did need something I could read. icon_biggrin.gif


 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:51
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Seriously?? Oct 22, 2015

Why would you type the source text first rather than just typing the translation?

I would think that any imaginary future time saved by being able to "reuse" the translation again would be completely wiped out by the time it takes to retype both this document and the next one minus the time it would simply take to copy and paste the word template = a negative use of time. Or am I missing something?

Yes, there probably is some "perceived" time savings by reusing translation memories at the time they are used, but this "time savings" needs to be offset by the time it takes to OCR the document, create the source text, manage the CAT tool and then you need to subtract anything that you could have easily just copied and pasted. In other words, in some instances, using a CAT tool even with "matches" would take significantly longer once you take into consideration all the time spent creating the memories. On top of that, if you are giving discounts to the client, then there really is no point that I can see.

In some cases, agencies are paying MORE money because of CAT tools. I once had three PDF contracts to translate that were basically identical except for a few details (customer, price, etc.). The project manager must have spent hours correcting the OCR in the documents in order to use a CAT tool. However, because of the way the text got entered (paragraph alignment, spacing, tags, etc.), the CAT tools found very few "matches", even though it was obvious to the naked eye that they were the same. In the "old" world, I would have just translated one contract, copied and pasted the other two and maybe just charged them $20.00 (or the equivalent word count) for making the changes. However, this agency's invoicing system can only accept word counts from the CAT tool, so they ended up paying me hundreds more.

Samuel Murray wrote:

.. we type the source text first, and then translate it. This is reflected in the rate we charge, too.


[Edited at 2015-10-22 15:11 GMT]


 

Brittany Jones  Identity Verified
Egypt
Local time: 11:51
Arabic to English
annoying, but standard Oct 22, 2015

Actually for my language pair and specialization (Arabic > English, legal), I'd say about 90% of the documents I receive are either PDF or an image. Most Arab governments have yet to make the transition to electronic filingicon_smile.gif

I've yet to find an OCR that works for this language pair, so no CAT-tools for me. However, on the occasion that I receive a Word document or use a translation agency's online CAT-tool, I have found it doesn't improve my efficiency at all. The tags alone caused so much headache, I'd rather just copy and paste.

And a note on typing out the source, then translating. I did that with my very first job and realized I lost SO much time doing it that way!


 

Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 04:51
German to English
+ ...
I've started giving special instructions Oct 23, 2015

I do a lot of small translations like driver's licenses and police reports. I now tell clients that it is preferable for a scan to be an actual scan, and if they absolutely must take a picture, to shoot straight down so that the image doesn't distort. I'd rather forbid the practice completely but as it is, I strongly discourage it. The letters are more blurry and the overall quality is not as good.

 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 11:51
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I occasionally type the source for medical records Oct 23, 2015

-- but not very often. I wish I were a better typist, or that OCR would work - I have experimented with OCR and spell checks with varying success.

I get medical records as PDFs, though NOT as scans from cell phones. The content would be ideal for a CAT. There really are standard phrases and terminology that would come up in the concordance if not as repeats, especially when I get whole bundles of them for research projects.

But for reasons best known to themselves, the health authorities wil not supply records in a file format that a CAT can read easily, and it does not make life easier or cheaper for anyone.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 11:51
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Why type first Oct 23, 2015

Jeff Whittaker wrote:
Why would you type the source text first rather than just typing the translation?


I guess I just find it easier to translate that way. I find it easier to translate text if the text is uniform, e.g. in a legible font and of the same size. I also think I find it easier if certain mental tasks are separated from each other -- deciphering text requires a different thinking skill than trying to think of the best way to say it in the other language. I also prefer to do layout first, and translate afterwards (i.e. not translate first and then do the layout afterwards). Typed text also allows me to use CAT. And typed text makes it easier for me to do text search throughout the rest of the file. Doing layout first (and typing as well) also helps me get an overview of the text before I start translating it. So, lots of advantages. The only disadvantage is: time.


 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:51
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Do you really feel it's profitable and worth your time...? Oct 23, 2015

I've found that doing small jobs for private individuals is really a waste of time.

Maxi Schwarz wrote:

I do a lot of small translations like driver's licenses and police reports. I now tell clients that it is preferable for a scan to be an actual scan, and if they absolutely must take a picture, to shoot straight down so that the image doesn't distort. I'd rather forbid the practice completely but as it is, I strongly discourage it. The letters are more blurry and the overall quality is not as good.


 

Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 04:51
German to English
+ ...
answering Oct 23, 2015

Jeff Whittaker wrote:

I've found that doing small jobs for private individuals is really a waste of time.

Can you explain why, and in what capacity?

I have been moving more and more toward small jobs for private individuals. The interaction is simpler and less complicated and generally more efficient. The calculated per-hour earning is better. Pay is ahead of time or immediately upon delivery. Everything is done along a system that I have organized to go smoothly, and I don't have to adjust to anyone else's (complicated for me, easy for them) system.

If you earn good money for your work, which goes smoothly and efficiently, and you get paid immediately or ahead of time, how is this a "waste of time"? We work to earn or daily bread, no?


 
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