Ideal equipment set-up for free-lance translators
Thread poster: Kathy Saranpa

Kathy Saranpa  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 05:32
Member (2003)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Oct 4, 2011

I'm getting a small business loan to set up a dedicated translation work station after years of working on either a clunker computer also used for personal e-mails or a MacBook. Do you have any advice about what pieces of equipment or software I should include that will help me work more efficiently? I saw a friend who had two monitors and I know I want that kind of set up. Any other advice? Many thanks in advance for your feedback.

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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 10:32
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Health and efficiency Oct 4, 2011

I have no company but work-at-home freelance translator. Among investments I screen for both software and hardware in expanded term: working system and infrastructure. I have good air-conditioned rooms, physical fitting corner, 3-4 computers (as redundant system against failure), network, phone line. I also use security system, postal mail system, fax, and good computer software. I used imac for e-mails many year ago to prevent many viruses but now I use PC with better firewall system. I use CAT, machine-translating software and spell checking software, and also cloud computing system and online storage area. My PCs have good 2- or 3- monitor displays for better working efficiency.

In 1970s I collected many dictionaries but now I mostly use Internet search for any latest information and resources.

For some rush and large volume jobs, both efficiency and healthy conditions of your body are vital.

Soonthon Lupkitaro


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:32
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
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My two cents Oct 4, 2011

Indeed two monitors are nice in very many cases. You can find graphic cards in the market at reasonable prices to be able to connect two monitors.

Other things I would definitely go for:
- One wide-screen monitor, and as big as you can afford. All modern CAT tools work with a side-by-side setup that requires a lot of space lengthwise.
- A normal monitor for the other monitor, so that you can examine pages vertically more comfortably than in the wide-screen monitor.
- Lots of memory (absolute minimum 4 GB)
- An ergonomic keyboard, ideally a split keyboard that will allow you to keep a more natural position of the hands.

That is all I would recommend on the hardware side, apart from the most powerful machine you can pay with your budget.

Now, how about CAT tools? What tools do you use normally? If you have never used CAT tools, I would definitely reserve part of the money for one or several CAT tools.


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Kathy Saranpa  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 05:32
Member (2003)
Swedish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Ideal equipment set-up for free-lance translators Oct 5, 2011

Many thanks to both of you for your detailed responses! Very helpful!

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 04:32
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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My advice Oct 5, 2011

Kathy Saranpa wrote:
Do you have any advice about what pieces of equipment or software I should include that will help me work more efficiently?


If you want to buy a laptop, buy an cheap laptop with a large screen, and fit it with a bigger hard drive and some extra RAM. If you want to buy a desktop computer, buy an entry-level (i.e. cheap) computer, and get a second hard drive and a little bit of extra RAM. In both cases, buy a monitor (so with the laptop you'll have a second monitor).

The computer is not the most important part of the workstation, however.[1] Buy yourself a comfortable chair (but shop around to keep it cheap), and a good desktop lamp (or two). If your desk is smallish, buy a bigger desk (or sturdy table). If your office has flimsy curtains or blinds, get heavier, darker curtains that can shut out light on a bright day.

Get a mid-range colour printer/scanner and a bottom-of-the range black-and-white laser printer (wireless is nice, but if you're not going to move from your desk, there is nothing wrong with cables). The laser printer will save you lots of money, and the scanner is needed for signing forms etc.

Even if you get a laptop, get an external mouse and keyboard (but keep it cheap -- steer clear of ergonomic marvels, as you can reduce strain better with correct posture and good light). This may also be a good time to buy a proper telephone (but again, keep it cheap).


--
[1] In this I agree with Soonthon: For some rush and large volume jobs, both efficiency and healthy conditions of your body are vital.


[Edited at 2011-10-05 08:17 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 04:32
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Comments on Tómas' answer Oct 5, 2011

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:
- One wide-screen monitor, and as big as you can afford. All modern CAT tools work with a side-by-side setup that requires a lot of space lengthwise.


That is true for the more expensive CAT tools (a silly trend, if you ask me), but many cheaper CAT tools still use the above-and-below view.

I would not recommend for "as big" as you can afford but rather "as high a resolution" as you want to budget for. In fact, I would go for a smaller monitor with higher resolution (e.g. 22" with 1080x1920 resolution instead of 32" with the same or even lower resolution).

- A normal monitor for the other monitor, so that you can examine pages vertically more comfortably than in the wide-screen monitor.


The wide monitor plus square monitor setup is certainly a good idea for someone who wants to have two monitors but has limited space. A good tip is to ensure that the dot pitch of both monitors are roughly the same (within about 0.05 mm of each other) so that the images on both screens are the same size.

You don't need a "normal" (presumably square) monitor to view pages in portrait mode. Many wide-screen monitors can be turned into portrait mode. I myself have such a monitor, permanently in portrait mode (I only turn it into landscape view if I want to proofread Excel sheets).

- Lots of memory (absolute minimum 4 GB)


Extra memory is good, but a large hard drive or a second hard drive (or a faster hard drive) will also increase your computer's speed, because modern operating systems write and read temporary files like there is no tomorrow, and hard drive more than half full will slow you down. Of course, nothing increases a computer's performance quite like disabling unnecessary background programs and processes, heh-heh.

- An ergonomic keyboard, ideally a split keyboard that will allow you to keep a more natural position of the hands.


I would actually advise the opposite. If you buy a cheap keyboard, you'll feel more comfortable tossing it in the bin for some other model, if you find that you dislike the way the keys click. Oh, and getting a spare keyboard and mouse of the same type as your normal keyboard is a *good idea* (especially if you like drinking coffee).

That is all I would recommend on the hardware side, apart from the most powerful machine you can pay with your budget.


I would advise to buy the cheapest computer, not the most expensive one. Buy your computer from a computer store that knows how to customise it, but get the type of model advertised for house wives or first-year students on a budget (but... with a large screen, extra RAM and extra hard drive).


[Edited at 2011-10-05 08:14 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:32
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
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OK! Oct 5, 2011

Samuel Murray wrote:
Tomás wrote:
- An ergonomic keyboard, ideally a split keyboard that will allow you to keep a more natural position of the hands.

I would actually advise the opposite. If you buy a cheap keyboard, you'll feel more comfortable tossing it in the bin for some other model, if you find that you dislike the way the keys click. Oh, and getting a spare keyboard and mouse of the same type as your normal keyboard is a *good idea* (especially if you like drinking coffee).

Well, you can replace the keyboard, but you cannot replace your wrists, can you? I insist that people who spend their whole life typing should invest in an ergonomic keyboard with a good quality.

I have been using the same ergonomic keyboard for about 5 years now, and it works beautifully even after quite some millions of words typed. I really think my wrists would be gone if I had kept using regular keyboards.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 04:32
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Other factors Oct 5, 2011

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:
I have been using the same ergonomic keyboard for about 5 years now, and it works beautifully even after quite some millions of words typed. I really think my wrists would be gone if I had kept using regular keyboards.


There are other factors to be considered, too.

* If your keyboard is very close to your body, move the keyboard further away from your body. Otherwise your wrists will be forced to turn outward in an uncomfortable way.

* Rest your forearms on the table (this might mean getting a bigger desk or moving the screen more back on the desk). The advice of typing teachers to not let your arms touch the desk relate to typists who are forced to sit upright with very little space to work in.

* The height of one's chair and the height of the table also affect typing strain.

* Another thing that causes strain on the wrists is if the keyboard is tilted upwards -- get a keyboard whose "feet" can be folded in, so that the keyboard lies as flat as possible on the table. In fact, try lifting the front of the keyboard (at the space bar) by a centimeter or so, which will also decrease the strain on your wrists.

The problem with many ergonomic keyboards is that you cant use any of the above solutions on it to further reduce strain.


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Kathy Saranpa  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 05:32
Member (2003)
Swedish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you! Oct 11, 2011

So much good information and advice here. Thanks so much for taking the time to help!

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