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Computer for a starting translator
Thread poster: Rasa Mikalauskaite

Rasa Mikalauskaite
Belgium
Local time: 09:50
Dutch to Lithuanian
+ ...
Aug 23, 2014

Or in short, what computers do you use, examples?

Thank you very much!

Rasa


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:50
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Mac Aug 24, 2014

Rasa Mikalauskaite wrote:

Or in short, what computers do you use, examples?

Thank you very much!

Rasa


I've been a Mac user since 1995. Currently, I'm using a Mac Mini (like this https://www.apple.com/uk/mac-mini/ but with 8GB of RAM) with a very big screen (this one http://tinyurl.com/nkcl2c2) and an Apple keyboard. The Dictation software that comes with the MacOS is truly excellent. Instead of typing, I mostly speak. I'm speaking this post.

I also have a MacBook Pro for when I go away. It's actually more powerful than the MacMini but power isn't a problem for the kind of work I do.

VERY IMPORTANT: using Carbon Copy Cloner, I make a clone of my entire hard drive at least once a day. It's a way of avoiding disasters if something bad happens to your computer, such as a power cut, a lightning strike, or an inadvertent deletion of some file or other that shouldn't have been deleted.

I don't use any CAT tools, just Microsoft Office (mostly Word), and of course a browser, in my case Safari. Over the years I find I have become expert at doing targeted Google searches to find the references I need. Years ago, when the Internet was still at the beginning, and Google didn't even exist, there wasn't very much at all on the web, but now there's everything!

[Edited at 2014-08-24 09:21 GMT]


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Susana Cid Díaz  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:50
English to Spanish
+ ...
Me, on PC Aug 24, 2014

Tom in London wrote:

Rasa Mikalauskaite wrote:

Or in short, what computers do you use, examples?

Thank you very much!

Rasa


I've been a Mac user since 1995. Currently, I'm using a Mac Mini (like this https://www.apple.com/uk/mac-mini/ but with 8GB of RAM) with a very big screen (this one http://tinyurl.com/nkcl2c2) and an Apple keyboard. The Dictation software that comes with the MacOS is truly excellent. Instead of typing, I mostly speak. I'm speaking this post.

I also have a MacBook Pro for when I go away. It's actually more powerful than the MacMini but power isn't a problem for the kind of work I do.

VERY IMPORTANT: using Carbon Copy Cloner, I make a clone of my entire hard drive at least once a day. It's a way of avoiding disasters if something bad happens to your computer, such as a power cut, a lightning strike, or an inadvertent deletion of some file or other that shouldn't have been deleted.

I don't use any CAT tools, just Microsoft Office (mostly Word), and of course a browser, in my case Safari. Over the years I find I have become expert at doing targeted Google searches to find the references I need. Years ago, when the Internet was still at the beginning, and Google didn't even exist, there wasn't very much at all on the web, but now there's everything!

[Edited at 2014-08-24 09:21 GMT]





I work with PC, but after reading Tom it looks like I made the wrong choice. It sounds like Mac computers are much better, and with better and more helpful software, and this is not the first time that I hear this from translators. On the other side seems like many clients prefer you to work on PC, at least at this side of the world (Spain).

I have a small laptop with a small screen and sometimes I miss a bigger screen to be able to have my neck straight and see better what I read, mostly on long translations. But I bought this because I am more an interpreter than a translator, and it works perfect to carry it with me when I go to a conference, and I don't want to have two computers.

Me, like Tom, I do security copies every day, but I do it with a external hard drive. That is very important.

The chair you sit on is also very important.


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Emma Goldsmith  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:50
Member (2010)
Spanish to English
2nd monitors and entry-level computers Aug 24, 2014

Susana Cid Díaz wrote:

I have a small laptop with a small screen and sometimes I miss a bigger screen (...) and I don't want to have two computers.



Susana, you need a nice big second monitor. When you get it, you won't be able to imagine life without it!

@Rasa
I've got a Lenovo ThinkPad S440, but you'll find that just about any new computer will meet your needs as a translator.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:50
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Compatibility Aug 24, 2014

Susana Cid Díaz wrote:

...... seems like many clients prefer you to work on PC, at least at this side of the world (Spain).


There's no difference, so far as the end user is concerned. None of my clients know what kind of computer I use. A file created in Microsoft Office for Mac opens on a PC and vice versa. The two systems are 100% compatible when using Office. PDFs and lots of other things are the same on both systems. In years and years of being a translator, I have never ever had any problems of compatibility between Macs and PCs.

And of course, if you really need Windows, you can use Parallels Desktop for Mac, which gives you access to Windows or to the Mac operating system, at the same time without needing to reboot.

[Edited at 2014-08-24 12:42 GMT]


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:50
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Monitor Aug 24, 2014

Emma Goldsmith wrote:

Susana, you need a nice big second monitor. When you get it, you won't be able to imagine life without it!


I strongly agree. The monitor I recommended (See my previous post above) performs extremely well.

I searched very carefully before deciding on this one, because for a translator it is really important to have a monitor that doesn't make your eyes tired. And my second most important criterion was that it must not be glossy.

I've been using it for a few months now and, as Emma says, I've become very used to it. It's wide enough to be able to display two A4 size pages side by side.

This monitor works both with PCs and Mac. Its very high performance might make you think that it ought to be expensive, but in fact it's surprisingly cheap!

Needless to say, the cost of computer equipment like this can be deducted from your income as a non-taxable expense.

[Edited at 2014-08-24 12:51 GMT]


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Mulyadi Subali  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 14:50
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Laptop + External Monitor Aug 24, 2014

Even if you don't travel that much, it is nice to have a laptop so that you won't be stuck at home. When you feel bored working at home, you can bring the laptop and work at a coffee shop, for instance.
When working at home, you can connect the laptop to an external monitor, or two. An external keyboard is another plus, as you want to primarily look at the bigger external monitor, not the laptop screen.
As for the OS, it doesn't matter anymore whether you use Windows, Mac OS X or Linux. There are quite a few able CAT tools, such as OmegaT, Heartsome, and CafeTran. I personally use OmegaT on my Mac, and rarely had any issue in regards to translation. This is because OmegaT can handle most, if not all, file formats I'm usually assigned with.


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Rudolf Frans Maulany  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:50
English to Indonesian
+ ...
PC, Laptop, Laptop + Monitor Aug 24, 2014

First I used only a PC but then because I was always travelling I used a laptop while travelling and later I used a laptop and external monitor if I am not travelling.

[Edited at 2014-08-24 16:36 GMT]


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Fernando Toledo  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:50
German to Spanish
Same here Aug 24, 2014

Mulyadi Subali wrote:

Even if you don't travel that much, it is nice to have a laptop so that you won't be stuck at home. When you feel bored working at home, you can bring the laptop and work at a coffee shop, for instance.
When working at home, you can connect the laptop to an external monitor, or two. An external keyboard is another plus, as you want to primarily look at the bigger external monitor, not the laptop screen.
As for the OS, it doesn't matter anymore whether you use Windows, Mac OS X or Linux. There are quite a few able CAT tools, such as OmegaT, Heartsome, and CafeTran. I personally use OmegaT on my Mac, and rarely had any issue in regards to translation. This is because OmegaT can handle most, if not all, file formats I'm usually assigned with.


MacBook Pro (i7 + 16 GB RAM) + DELL 27"

But, in fact, any actual computer is good enough for Translators. If you work a lot, then you need ergonomic gadgets -> Big monitor (or 2, but after using a while 2x 19", since 5 years I use a 27" and is much more ergonomic) + a good "executive chair"

... about Backups daily... !!!??? well today you use a cloud for this, no stress.

I use two systems

Wuala
Owncloud

and the classics Dropbox, Copy, etc.


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Kieran Sheehan  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:50
Member (2008)
German to English
Laptop + docking station + 2 monitors Aug 24, 2014

This is my preferred solution. If you have a business laptop (such as thinkpad T420 or similar) you can plug it into a docking station with 2 monitors when you are at your office and simply lift it out when you are travelling. Also saves the bother of having to sync between laptop and a PC. But do remember to backup to external drive regularly...

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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:50
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Lost in the clouds Aug 24, 2014

Fernando Toledo wrote:

... about Backups daily... !!!??? well today you use a cloud for this, no stress.



No stress? I don't trust the cloud.

First, you have to pay for it, if you go beyond a certain storage capacity, and it is entirely predictable that over time the cost of doing this will progressively increase.

Second, what happens if you are away from home, travelling perhaps, on an aeroplane or a train, or a slow boat to China, or in a remote Italian village, or anywhere else where you can't get a reliable Internet connection, or no connection at all, or only a dial-up connection,and you can't access the stuff you've put in the cloud? Then what happens?

I'm already stressed, just thinking about that!

I just do my backups to an external hard drive. It's sitting right here in front of me, on my desk. I don't need no cloud!


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Orrin Cummins  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 16:50
Japanese to English
+ ...
Hmm Aug 24, 2014

I'm not sure I agree with the sentiment that "any" new computer is good enough for a translator. It depends on what you will be using with it.

I went to a local electronics store a week or two ago and checked out their desktop PCs. They only had a small selection but none of them had more 4 GB of RAM, and some even had 2 GB (in 2014!). These are $1000+ computers we are talking about here.

I couldn't imagine trying to multitask Trados, voice recognition, Adobe Acrobat, Word, and a web browser, plus Skype and all the other background stuff on a paltry 2 GB of RAM. It makes my head hurt just thinking about it.

Technology has improved, but I'm not sure that the average person's knowledge of hardware has gone up all that much. So retail stores are still selling weirdly configured systems for waaaay too much money, and people who don't know any better are still buying them like they are going out of style. If a beginning translator bought one of these underwhelming systems, they might regret it once they start loading it up with some of the tools of the trade.

Of course, some translators don't use a whole bunch of software when they translate, and that's cool too. They would probably do OK with 2 GB of RAM. What I'm saying is that it depends on what you are going to do with the computer.

I'm on the verge of buying a desktop PC and I'm pretty sure that I don't want anything with less than 8 GB of RAM and dual video-out with a pair of the biggest monitors that my wife will let me get away with buying.

I recently got a black-and-white laser printer that saves a lot of money on ink (I print out all of my source texts, and then usually print the target for proofreading).

I agree that with Parallels the whole Mac vs. PC debate doesn't really incite the fervor that it used to. The main difference is price, I guess. Macs are more stable in my experience, but Apple's obsession with making everything proprietary is a little grating sometimes. Unix-based systems are powerful but they have a steep learning curve.


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 15:50
Chinese to English
Big IBM laptop Aug 24, 2014

Agree with most things above - I've never used an external monitor, so I don't know about that. My Lenovo laptop is much more robust than anything I've had in the past, and offers enough power to run all the software Orrin mentioned. I have a bigger screen (17", I think) so that I can see my documents. They're boxy but they're good.

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Fernando Toledo  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:50
German to Spanish
Well I think different ;-) Aug 24, 2014

[quote]Tom in London wrote:

Fernando Toledo wrote:

... about Backups daily... !!!??? well today you use a cloud for this, no stress.



No stress? I don't trust the cloud.


I don't trust Hardware



First, you have to pay for it, if you go beyond a certain storage capacity, and it is entirely predictable that over time the cost of doing this will progressively increase.



Nope, getting cheaper


Second, what happens if you are away from home, travelling perhaps, on an aeroplane or a train, or a slow boat to China, or in a remote Italian village, or anywhere else where you can't get a reliable Internet connection, or no connection at all, or only a dial-up connection,and you can't access the stuff you've put in the cloud? Then what happens?


I travel a lot (Mekong, Sumatra, Brazil) and never get in this situation, tell me a place where you can not use a mobil phone? Tethering is a great function.


I'm already stressed, just thinking about that!



Old school I don't think about! the files are updated and synchronized in all my devices without any action


I just do my backups to an external hard drive. It's sitting right here in front of me, on my desk. I don't need no cloud!


Your laptop and your hard drive can be very easy stolen

With Mac we have Time Machine and I also have a hard disc running it (just in background, I do nothing). Anyway hard drives are not 100% sure, and if I lost my laptop (or someone steals it) I can continue working again in hours (just buy a new one) or go to any Internet cafe install OmegaT and work with my actual files. So I am happy I can access to all my working files anywhere



[Edited at 2014-08-24 20:18 GMT]


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 09:50
Italian to English
Animal Farm (RAM for CATs) Aug 24, 2014

Orrin Cummins wrote:

Of course, some translators don't use a whole bunch of software when they translate, and that's cool too. They would probably do OK with 2 GB of RAM. What I'm saying is that it depends on what you are going to do with the computer.



If you are using a CAT tool, extra RAM is a big plus.

Every time I upgrade my ThinkPad, I pack in as much RAM as I can afford and have never had cause to regret the outlay. You might also consider a solid-state drive instead of, or in conjunction with, a hard-disk drive to speed things up but this is perhaps a step or two above entry level.


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