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The need for speed
Thread poster: Reed James

Reed James
Chile
Local time: 21:25
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
Oct 26, 2006

Hello. I would just like to know how some of you have increased your daily output without cutting corners. I for one have benefited greatly from macros and speech recognition software. However, I know that there are more solutions out there which I have not tried. Thank you.

Reed


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Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:25
Spanish to English
+ ...
Macros for what, please? Oct 26, 2006

Reed D. James wrote:
I for one have benefited greatly from macros and speech recognition software. However, I know that there are more solutions out there which I have not tried. Thank you.

Reed


I don't know how to write a macro, but one reason I haven't figured it out is that I'm not sure when I would need to use one.

Could you please give us some examples of what you use macros for? Do you write them youself, or do you get them from other sources?

I'd also like to know what word recognition software you use now and whether you've tried out other packages...do you have one you would recommend?

Thanks!


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Reed James
Chile
Local time: 21:25
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
TOPIC STARTER
Some macro information Oct 27, 2006

[quote]Patricia Rosas wrote:

Reed D. James wrote:
I for one have benefited greatly from macros and speech recognition software. However, I know that there are more solutions out there which I have not tried. Thank you.

Reed

Patricia,

I don't know how to write a macro, but one reason I haven't figured it out is that I'm not sure when I would need to use one.


Macros are simply shortcuts that help you do things much more quickly and effortlessly than if you had to do it all by hand. They can also be tailored to your needs. Wouldn't you rather click a button or apply a hot key instead of having to type and format "United Mexican States" every time it appears in the source text? There are quite a few sites on the Internet with good Word macros for you to copy and paste. You can also use Word's macro recorder.

Could you please give us some examples of what you use macros for? Do you write them youself, or do you get them from other sources?


There are so many examples of macros that I use daily, that it is hard to know where to start... You might like to visit my blog: http://legaltrans.blogspot.com/2006/10/word-macro-for-legal-translator.html where you will find a good example of a macro.

I'd also like to know what word recognition software you use now and whether you've tried out other packages...do you have one you would recommend?


I use Nuance's Dragon Naturally Speaking Professional version 8. I can assure you that it is the best thing out there on the market. I've also tried IBM's ViaVoice. Unfortunately, ViaVoice is no longer being produced, and it is somewhat outdated. I recommend the NaturallySpeaking Professional edition. I know it has a fairly high price tag on it, but within a month or so, you will most likely regain that money-- and then some in increased productivity and no more tired wrists from all that typing.

Hope that helps.

Reed

[Edited at 2006-10-27 02:02]


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James (Jim) Davis  Identity Verified
Seychelles
Local time: 04:25
Italian to English
Macros and Trados Oct 27, 2006

Patricia,
If you find yoursel repeating let's say five keystrokes over and over, then go to tools, macros and record them in a macro and then attach that macro to just one key stroke.
Office macros are written in VBA, Visual Basis for Applications. You can do practically anything in it even if it is boring old BASIC.
Ever heard of Trados? The user interface of the trados work bench is just macros, hooked up to a database behind it.
Jim


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:25
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Automate tasks that can be automated Oct 27, 2006

Reed D. James wrote:
I would just like to know how some of you have increased your daily output without cutting corners.


I use the same method as you do... by automating tasks which can be automated. Here's what we did in our translation office to increase output and to decrease wastage:

1. Have a document flow system that tracks the location and status of documents, and stick to it (we use a cardboard register with punched sheets and columns, and we write with a pen). The system is simple and relatively effective. Eg. if there's no translator's signature in the 7th columm of the register, then we know theres only 5 places in our office where the source document might be lying. We could add one extra column and increase the certainty from 5 places to 2 places, or add two columns and increase the certainty to 1 place, but then filling in the register would take longer. You have to balance simplicity with effectiveness. This may not be applicable to a freelancer, except in principle.

2. Sort your files in a simple but systematic way.

3. Index your work files for searching (there are many free desktop search programs -- we use Wilbur).

4. Use your TM program for everything (get a scanner to scan hardcopy documents). This will create a database of previous translations (even if it doesn't produce many fuzzy matches).

5. Learn to use text, cursor and editor shortcuts. If you're not moving through text with one finger hovering over the Ctrl key, then you're in trouble. It takes a while to learn these, but they are well worth it.

6. Learn advanced find/replace (in MS Word, in OOo, or in your favourite text editor -- we use Metapad). We don't really use find/replace in our office for replacing text, but rather for formatting badly formatted documents (or scanned documents) so that they are more suited for TM and CAT

7. I use only a few macros, but I know other people who are L337 macro H4x0rs. You have to balance having too many tools to remember with having enough to speed you up. Just knowing how to record a macro (even for single use) can already be useful.

8. Download many free programs and try them out to see if any of their features may be useful to you.


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Ravishankar Govindraj
India
Local time: 05:55
English to Gujarati
+ ...
Macros v/s CAT Oct 27, 2006

Hi

Thanks for so much information, but could you please tell how macros go with a CAT tool like wordfest? Can we use them in tandem? or if we can create sufficient no of macros may be we can do without a cat tool?

Thanks

Ravishankar G


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:25
Italian to English
+ ...
I'm sure there are many other uses, but... Oct 27, 2006

It's not the first time I've heard this given as an advantage of using macros, but what's the point of writing a macro to create a shortcut key for a given key stroke sequence when you can just put it in as an "automatic correction" option? That's what I do... not only for words and phrases I translate a lot but also to convert abbreviations from one language to another without having to think about what they are.

So for this specific example, what does a macro do that the "automatic correction" doesn't?


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Carlos Montilla
Local time: 01:25
English to Spanish
+ ...
Simple Macros Oct 27, 2006

You can use macros to change the language of the text or to simply highlight a word/sentence/paragraph in yellow...

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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:25
German to English
+ ...
Autotext and WordFast Oct 27, 2006

I prefer to use Autotext over Autocorrect in Word. With Autotext, if I want to write "computer-assisted translation" repeatedly, for example, I would set up "cat" as the shortcut. Then when I want to write the word, I simply type "cat" and press F3.

Autocorrect, on the other hand, seems dangerous to me, because if I chose the abbreviation "cat" for "computer-assisted translation," the system would always expand "cat" to "computer-assisted translation" even if I meant to write about my pet cat. You have to be more selective about the shortcuts you choose and keep an eye on it more.

My main productivity tool is WordFast. I have TMs for each customer, which makes it easier to stay consistent. Segmentation helps me avoid missing out sentences and is much faster than overtyping.

When I create or receive glossaries from customers to use on projects, I immediately convert them to WF glossaries. This means that when I'm going along in my translation, any term in the customer's glossary shows up in blue, so I can be sure to use the preferred term. WordFast is really invaluable for projects where you have to adhere to specific terminology.

Another tip is to group similar tasks - I try to save batches of invoices to write up all at once during some downtime, rather than trying to write an invoice after each job. The same would apply to answering e-mails, although I'm not very disciplined about that.

I tend to want to push through and finish a job without breaks, but have actually found that taking regular breaks increases productivity and prevents "mental blocks."

Minimizing productivity-killing distractions when working at home is a big challenge, though - if anyone has suggestions about that, please do tell!

[Edited at 2006-10-27 17:48]


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:25
Italian to English
+ ...
thanks for a valid reason not to use autocorrect, Daina! Oct 27, 2006

Daina Jauntirans wrote:

I prefer to use Autotext over Autocorrect in Word. With Autotext, if I want to write "computer-assisted translation" repeatedly, for example, I would set up "cat" as the shortcut. Then when I want to write the word, I simply type "cat" and press F3.

Autocorrect, on the other hand, seems dangerous to me, because if I chose the abbreviation "cat" for "computer-assisted translation," the system would always expand "cat" to "computer-assisted translation" even if I meant to write about my pet cat. You have to be more selective about the shortcuts you choose and keep an eye on it more.


Not entirely sure that it applies to me, although maybe that's because I automatically avoid shortcuts that are also
a real word...


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Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:25
Spanish to English
+ ...
Marie-Helene and I are on the same wave length... Oct 27, 2006

Marie-Helene Hayles wrote:

Daina Jauntirans wrote:

I prefer to use Autotext over Autocorrect in Word. With Autotext, if I want to write "computer-assisted translation" repeatedly, for example, I would set up "cat" as the shortcut. Then when I want to write the word, I simply type "cat" and press F3.

Autocorrect, on the other hand, seems dangerous to me, because if I chose the abbreviation "cat" for "computer-assisted translation," the system would always expand "cat" to "computer-assisted translation" even if I meant to write about my pet cat. You have to be more selective about the shortcuts you choose and keep an eye on it more.


Not entirely sure that it applies to me, although maybe that's because I automatically avoid shortcuts that are also
a real word...


I'm still mystified. I use auto-text all the time--I type in a few letters of a key phrase and hit the space bar... I will check out Reed's blog and see his macros, but so little of what I do is repetitive that I'm not sure when they would be of help.

When I mentioned writing a macro, I assumed that if you use the macro recorder, you still have to develop a string of commands to record. Isn't that true?

Anyway, my apologies to Reed as we seem to have gotten away from his valid question!

[Edited at 2006-10-27 22:30]


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:25
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
How about speed reading and memory? Oct 27, 2006

The way that I am trying to increase speed at the moment is by proofreading faster, as it is the proofreading process that takes so long. However, it does not need to take so long. If you try to get used to reading faster, it suddenly takes a lot less time.

The other thing that has helped me to increase speed is to try to memorise all new words that I come across, to decrease time spent looking in dictionaries (either paper ones or online ones). This works pretty well, too.

Those are the only two ways I have figured out so far for increasing speed, and they both work.

Astrid

P.S. Yet a third way to increase speed would be by refraining from reading and contributing to the pages of proz.com inbetween each individual page of a translation.

[Edited at 2006-10-27 22:45]


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Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 03:25
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
Personal observations Oct 28, 2006

I apologize if I am way behind you all. These are just my observations about our craft.

I recently discovered that translation speed depends on two things:
1) concentration
2) the degree of pleasure you derive from the thought process that translation entails

I'll start with 2.
2) I enjoy going into a certain "state" when translating, where I evaluate the myriad of possible ways to translate the piece of text at hand. While this is a lot of fun and quite conducive to producing an "ideal" translation, it affects overall performance in a very bad way. I've discovered that by severely narrowing down possible translation alternatives from the start, I can still come up with an adequate translation, which can then be improved through proofreading (if need be).

Now back to 1.
1) Concentration, for me, means working alone, with none of the usual daily distractions, and focusing exclusively on the work. This can be quite painful if done for extended periods of time, but it's a good technique for those "mission-critical" projects with tight deadlines.

These are probably not the techniques you were looking for, but I feel they are pretty important to a translator.

Regards,
Mike


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 05:55
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Take a nap when you are tired Oct 28, 2006

I am perhaps not a very tech savvy translator, though I have a Master's degree in Computer Applications, and there was a time, it appears so long ago now, when I used to write programs in C, and my prescription for improving the speed of translation is to take a short nap of 20 minutes or so, when you feel tired, or at least step out of the setting of the work, take a stroll in an area with plenty of trees and bird life and if there is water also near it, nothing like it, and then come back to the work.

You will find that after this interlude your mind begins to function with a marked improvement in performance.


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James (Jim) Davis  Identity Verified
Seychelles
Local time: 04:25
Italian to English
File flow and macros and logs Oct 28, 2006

When somebody sends me a word file as an Email attachment, I select the email in MS Office outlook (not the express version) and click on a macro I've created. A dialogue box comes up with a list of my customers taken from a mysql database. I select the customer and click on OK. This automatically copies the file into my "current" folder and at the same time changes the name.
If the original name of the file is "theTranslation" and the customer's name is "bestCustomer" the file name becomes (for today) bestCustomer_06_10_28_theTranslation.doc, this is the original source file. The result is that I have all my current (not yet invoiced) files in my current folder ordered first alphabetically by customer name and then chronologically by date.
When I come to open the file in Word, I click on another macro 'files' and this creates two new files: bestCustomer_06_10_28_theTranslation_eng.doc which is the target file and bestCustomer_06_10_28_theTranslation_log.doc and this is very important not just for speed but also for planning work and knowing whether you can meet a deadline or not. In the log file I put my mouse away and go into keys only mode and hit alt-L which runs a macro which prints the date and time, the number of characters words and paragraphs in the file (actually I only look at the characters, but when I wrote it I thought I'd put the rest in anyway).
Then I open the bestCustomer_06_10_28_theTranslation_eng.doc file and translate for an hour (doesn't have to be an hour). I then go back to the log file (I always keep it open), I delete the text I have translated and press Alt-L again and it gives me the date, time and the new figures for characters, words, etc. and I can see how much I have done.

Put simply, its a sort of speedometer, telling me how fast I am translating. Its quick and easy to use and its accurate.

Jim










[Edited at 2006-10-28 15:42]


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