indispensable software for translator just starting out
Thread poster: langco
langco
United States
Oct 9, 2013

I am starting up my translating business after taking a break for a few years. Since technology changes so quickly, does anyone have recommendations on indispensable software I should purchase?

Thank you.


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Sarai Pahla (MD) MBChB
Germany
Local time: 23:53
Member (2012)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Depends on what you are going to do Oct 9, 2013

Hmm... indispensable software? Depends on what software you mean. I think Microsoft Office is pretty much the golden standard, although I assume you already have Office. CAT tool - I mean, it depends on what you like - the major market players having changed in the last few years. Can't give any info on invoicing or project management software as I don't use any. I must admit, I don't think technology changes *that* quickly that the requirements you had before leaving translation are very different, so if you could be a bit more specific, it might help.

Also, I assumed from your message that you're starting out as a freelancer again - did you perhaps mean that you want to start an agency?


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564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 23:53
Danish to English
+ ...
Not a lot Oct 10, 2013

To get started, all you really need is the Microsoft Office package (main emphasis on Word, Excel and PowerPoint).

Personally, I would recommend some CAT tool, as to me that is absolutely indispensable, but that will depend on the kind of translation work you intend to do. If you are aiming for creative translation, you may not find CAT tools of much help (although in my view, a terminology management tool will be helpful to any translator). You could start off with one of the free, online tools that are available just to see whether you find them helpful at all. I get by with just one CAT tool; others here seem to offer services in various tools to accommodate the requirements of different agencies.

As for any other software, I would recommend that you wait until you discover a particular need. Why pay for something now that you may not need until you are six months down the line? Most software can be purchased online and downloaded and installed immediately.

I have chosen to invest in Adobe Acrobat, which is good for OCR conversion and working directly in PDF files (useful for proofreading). Other than that, I have not found it necessary to invest in additional software, except for one electronic dictionary. Depending on your language combination, you may want to invest in some electronic dictionaries. Also check out what online resources you may need.

As for accounting software and other business management tools, I have yet to see why those are necessary for a small business. I do just fine with Excel.


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xxxnrichy
France
Local time: 23:53
French to Dutch
+ ...
Basic requirements Oct 10, 2013

Office (at least 2010), Acrobat Reader (recent free version), Thunderbird (to be used instead of Outlook), Firefox or Chrome (instead of IE), a basic CAT-tool (for myself I would opt for Wordfast Classic). If you want to invest more, Studio 2011 or 2014. For invoicing, no need for anything else than Word or Excel.

Hardware is important too, when using a Windows 7 or 8 computer you'll avoid most compatibility problems and you can convert PDFs in both directions. A laptop with an extra mouse and keyboard will do, but as soon as possible invest in a big screen, 20" or so. And a good typist chair.


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Orrin Cummins  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 07:53
Japanese to English
+ ...
Also mentionable: Oct 10, 2013

ABBYY Finereader. I have Adobe Acrobat XI Pro, but ABBYY works better sometimes on really poor scans. If you work with a lot of scanned documents, you'll ideally want both anyway.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:53
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
No 1 priority: secure your ability to keep working Oct 11, 2013

If you're going to be handling large texts, particularly in an editor's role but also for ensuring your own work is as consistent as possible, then something like PerfectIt is valuable.

If you're going to accept scanned PDFs then you'll need software to
support that.

I would definitely recommend getting a CAT tool, if only to be able to speak knowledgeably about them. You don't necesssarily have to buy one but it doesn't look good not knowing what they do.

I would say that maybe most important would be a full antivirus/firewall service. Along with a sure way tobackup your data, keep it confidential, restore easily and quickly... Time is money.


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Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:53
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Comments on Sheila's ideas Oct 11, 2013

Sheila Wilson wrote:
If you're going to be handling large texts, particularly in an editor's role but also for ensuring your own work is as consistent as possible, then something like PerfectIt is valuable.

Before Sheila mentioned it, I had never heard of PerfectIt. Judging from its website
( http://www.intelligentediting.com/standardversion.aspx ), it seems to me that it is probably useful, but I wouldn't consider that to be indispensable. It claims this: "PerfectIt helps you to locate typos and errors in Microsoft Word documents. It finds mistakes that no spelling or grammar check will discover, which makes proofreading faster and helps you to impress even the toughest client." For me, the main tool for doing that is myself - re-reading a translation that I was sure was a good one, a few hours after finishing it. I nearly always find one or two silly errors!
I would say that maybe most important would be a full antivirus/firewall service.
I use the free firewall Zonealarm, partly because it's a good firewall and partly because its taskbar icon acts as a "traffic meter" showing me the rate of data flowing between the Internet and my computer. I also have an antivirus program (AVG, free version, in my case, but it's not the only good one). But I have turned off several of its actions. My main anti-virus service is myself - it is important to be skeptical of all emails received and to know when not to believe them. Examples: today I received 2 emails claiming to be from Fedex Support, with subject Your Rewards Order Has Shipped and beginning: "This is to confirm that one or more items in your order has been shipped". and containing an attachment "order history page.zip", which in fact contains a virus called FakeAlert. I discovered this by using AVG to scan it - if you don't know how to do this safely, don't try!
Along with a sure way to backup your data, keep it confidential, restore easily and quickly... Time is money.
Yes, you should have a backup unit that you can keep separate from the computer when you're not updating it. I have both a USB memory stick and a separate hard disk (also connected by a USB cable) and I use a rather nice free program called FreeFileSync to do the backups - it detects what is different between your computer's data and the contents of the backup medium and can do the copying and deleting that will make the backup contents the same as the computer's contents. This gives you, for example, protection against a failure, or theft, of your computer.

Oliver

[Edited at 2013-10-11 11:52 GMT]


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Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:53
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Spreadsheet for record-keeping Oct 11, 2013

You might like to use specialist software for project management and invoicing. Instead of that, I use Excel spreadsheets (home-made design) to keep records of:
  • a list of clients;
  • a list of jobs and their status: client, size, status (inquiry, started, ready to invoice etc.);
  • time spent on each job (I log the start and end times of each session, and word counts, and the worksheet calculates total time spent, percentage done etc.).

Oliver


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Rolf Keller
Germany
Local time: 23:53
English to German
Proprietary firewalls and USB disks Oct 14, 2013

Oliver Walter wrote:

I use the free firewall Zonealarm


Windows XP SP2 and later include the so-called "Windows Firewall with Advanced Security".
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc748991(v=ws.10).aspx
http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/changing-windows-firewall-settings-with-advanced-s.pageCd-storyboard,pageNum-10.html

Why use any product that might interfere with Windows and is not included in the regular Microsoft Security Update cycle?

I have both a USB memory stick and a separate hard disk (also connected by a USB cable)


A harddisk with USB cable is not a good resp safe backup solution, mainly because its file/directory management is done by the PC's operating system. If the drive is not logged out correctly (by you or by your software) before unplugging, the result can be a disaster. The same can happen if there is an electrical power problem (USB delivers electrical power).

As an alternative I recommend a NAS with LAN connection (a 1 Terabyte NAS could cost extra 30 EUR, compared with an USB version).


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