Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Studio 2014 SP2: one step forward and one backward

SDL has just released Studio 2014 SP2. This upgrade no longer relies on Java, and should therefore fix all Java-related issues that have plagued the use of MultiTerm in Studio. So, thank you to SDL for finally fixing the Java problem.
If you read through the release notes of SP2, however, in addition to various improvements, there is also a major new issue:
11. Improved word count and search logic for words containing apostrophes and dashes
Studio 2014 SP2 uses an improved algorithm for processing words that contain dashes (-) or apostrophes (‘). This improvement translates into:
Lower word count. Studio no longer treats apostrophes and dashes as word separators, but as punctuation marks that link words together. This means that Studio counts elements like “it’s” or “splash-proof” as one single word.
I can see why certain translation agencies would consider this as an “improved” algorithm, and welcome such a misfeature (just another way to pay those pesky translators less). But why should translators consider this as an improvement?
I’ve run a test on a short MS Word file I created from a Wikipedia article (I have it available, if anybody wants to repeat my test):
The results are as follows:
  • Baseline: manual word count: 195 words
  • Trados 2007: 198 words (+1.5%)
  • Studio 2011: 195 words (=)
  • Studio 2014 SP1: 193 words (-1.0%)
  • memoQ 2014: 190 words. (-2.6%)
  • MS Word 2010: 190 words (-2.6%)
  • Studio 2014 SP2: 188 words (-3.6%)
As you can see, a translator who used to be paid based on a Trados 2007 word count would concede to the translation agency a 5.1% discount just by using 2014 SP2 instead.

What seems to be happening with words that may be counted differently

A subset of the file I used for the word count includes the following:
It’s
mid-16th century
Prince-electors
The others who were left in the keep—men, women and children—were killed.
According to my manual word count these are 21 words (I count two words each for “it’s”, “mid-16th”, “Prince-electors”, and of course I count as separate words “keep”, “men”, “children”, and “were”.)
According to MS Word, these are 18 words: it counts as single words “it’s” and the two hyphenated terms “mid-16th” and “Prince-electors”; however, it correctly counts as separate words “keep” and “men”, “children” and “were”.
According to Studio 2014 SP2, however, these are 16 words: Studio 2014 SP2 is not only counting as single words “It’s”, and the two hyphenated terms, but it also counts as single words those that are separated by an m-dash.
So either SDL’s programmers don’t know the difference between an hyphen and a dash and how they are used, or the way they have implemented the change contains a bug. The former option is suggested by SDL's own release notes, which do say
Studio 2014 SP2 uses an improved algorithm for processing words that contain dashes (-) [...] This means that Studio counts [...] “splash-proof” as a single word.
“Splash-proof”, of course, does not contain a dash: it contains an hyphen, and the distinction is important, especially when not knowing the difference between a dash and an hyphen results in a lowered word count.

UPDATE

According to SDL's release notes, dashes should actually be counted correctly:
Dashes that do not follow the new logic:
  • Figure dash (‒) 
  • En dash (–) 
  • Em dash (—) 
  • Horizontal bar (―) 
  • Small Em dash (﹘)
However, my test confirms that this is not the case: try copying "The others who were left in the keep—men, women and children—were killed" into a word file, and run an analysis in Studio 2014 SP2: you'll see that the two dashes are counted as hyphens, and that the word count for the sentence (which contains 14 words), indicates 12 words.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Some additional answers about Xbench

At the ATA Conference in Chicago I gave a presentation on how to use Xbench for terminology management and translation QA (you can see and download the presentation from the Xbench tab in this blog).

I believe that the presentation was well received, and that most people found the program very useful, but I was stumped by a few questions. I've now inquired with the Xbench developers at ApSIC, and they have provided the missing information:

Q. Is Xbench compatible with languages that use non-Roman alphabets (e.g., languages that use the Cyrillic alphabet)?
A. Yes, Xbench 3.0 uses Unicode, and is therefore compatible with other alphabets.

Q. Is Xbench compatible with double-byte languages?
A. Xbench's compatibility with double-byte languages is quite good (Japan is ApSIC's largest customer base after Spain, and Korea is quite big as well, China is the country with most active users and downloads), but there are some caveats. Xbench does not have heuristics in place to identify words within a DBCS strings, so some features that rely on whole words identification do not work well (for example if Chinese is the source language in a key terms check).

Q. Is Xbench compatible with bi-directional languages?
A. With Xbench 3.0 build 1266 (the current build as of now), compatibility is still poor, but ApSIC is actively working to improve bi-directional compatibility.

Q. What are the size limits for files loaded in Xbench?
A. For the 32-bit version, there is a limit of 2GB per file (and a maximum for all files loaded of 2 or 4 GB). For the 64-bit version the limit is the available memory and available swap disk. ApSIC recommends installing the 64-bit version if you have a 64-bit Windows. The 64-bit version used to have a limitation of 2GB per file (however, with an unlimited number of files), but now that limitation has been lifted, and files in excess of 2GB should work.

Please note that all these answers refer to version 3.0 of Xbench (the commercial version of the program).

Monday, August 18, 2014

An interview on the CTA website

Marion Rhodes, CTA Social Media Coordinator, interviewed me for the Colorado Translators Association website... and now the interview has been published:
Imagine translating without the help of the Internet – or the computer for that matter. The tools that have become indispensable to today’s translators haven’t been around all that long. Today, we talk to a translator who has witnessed the changes in our industry over the past three decades: Riccardo Schiaffino, an ATA-certified English into Italian technical translator and president of Aliquantum, Inc., in Denver.
 You can read the interview by following this link.



Monday, July 07, 2014

Useful infographic: SEO for an international website

Smoke & Croak, a multilingual digital marketing agency, have just released an interactive infographic with a step-by-step guide to SEO for websites targeted at an international audience.

Each step includes links to resources and guides about SEO (Search Engine Optimization), from SEO basics for beginners and to elements which are more specific to international SEO.

While the infographic is not exclusively aimed at translators, it could be useful for translators looking to improve their visibility on search engines in different countries.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Xbench world cup promotion

I’ve just heard that ApSIC has a very interesting promotion for Xbench: until the kick off of the quarterfinals, you can get the chance of winning an eight-year subscription to Xbench for the price of a single year:
The World Cup games have shown to be a lot more equal than anticipated. Most games have required extra time and tiny details (and often a ton of luck) have decided who passes to next round.
But if you already saw clearly who is going to win, here is a great deal for you: Buy one subscription year, make your guess of the World Cup winner, and if you are right, you get eight subscription years instead of one.
This deal is valid for both new customers and also existing customers who wish to renew their subscription ahead of time to benefit from this deal.
To place your order, simply go to http://www.xbench.net/index.php/store/order-xbench
After your order is processed, you will receive an email to ask you for your World Cup winner.
And hurry up, this promotion ends on Friday July 4, at 6pm CET, with the France-Germany kick-off!




Xbench is a great tool even without any promotion – and with this you could get a great deal on its price.
Personally, I think they could have made things even more interesting by taking into account realistic odds of winning.
For example, they could have said that if you choose Brazil to win, you get three years free when you pay for one (provided Brazil wins), but that if you choose instead Costa Rica (and it wins the World Cup, against all odds), you would get Xbench free forever after you pay for one year… Since I’m not in charge of the promotion, however, it’s eight year no matter which team you prefer (so long as that team wins the World Cup).
To help you select your team for the competition, this is the first of the two goals Uruguay scored to beat Brazil in the 1950 decisive match.

So, remember: even the overwhelming favorite is not always the winner.




Thursday, May 29, 2014

Discounts on memoQ and on déjàvu

Kilgray's is currently offering memoQ at a 40% discount; the offer is available until June 2, 2014 (or until there are still licenses offered at that price - only 4 remain as of this post).

In this promotion you can buy a memoQ translator pro license for 372 EUR or 462 USD instead of 620 EUR or 770 USD.

If you buy a memoQ license now, the price includes a full year of upgrades and support, a ten-lesson online course, and also a free copy of Kevin Lossner's e-book "memoQ in Quick Steps: Configuration".

If you are interested in Déjàvu X3, instead, you still have two days to take advantage of a 20% discount (if you do, you need to enter the code CREATIVITY. Click here for a link to the Atril web store.

NOTE: From time to time I post these links to software or discounts that may be of interest to other translators. When I do that, it's on my own initiative: I'm not surreptitiously selling ads on this site.

Xbench plug-in for SDL Trados Studio 2014

After a successful beta test, ApSIC announced today the official release of the ApSIC Xbench Plugin for SDL Trados Studio 2014.

This plugin integrates the two programs, and allows translators to: 
  •  QA Studio projects with Xbench just with one click from the Studio ribbon.
  •  Instantly edit any issues found by Xbench right in Studio, with all Studio project settings in place.


It also makes it even easier the use of Xbench's powerful search to look into the translation memories (and other resources) you have loaded in your project.  A very useful feature, considering the deficiencies of SDL's own concordance search.

The plugin for Studio is a free add-on and requires ApSIC Xbench 3.0 build 1186 or later and SDL Trados Studio 2014 SP1 or later.

You can watch a 5-minute video featuring this cool integration at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daWkATVCkvg


To download the latest buids of ApSIC Xbench 3.0 and the plugin, visit http://www.xbench.net/index.php/download

Remember: the plug-in is only available for Xbench 3.0 - another excellent reason for upgrading to the new version of the program.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Will SDL ever learn the difference between letters and words?

I have been using translation memory tools for about twenty years now. More and more, I’ve come to the conclusion that their most useful feature is not the ability to offer fuzzy and perfect matches (useful as they may be), but rather the concordance search, which can suggest previous translations from segments that are not similar enough to the one you are working on to qualify for a fuzzy match.

And this is why I get so annoyed with SDL: they think that if the memory does not contain the word you are looking for, it is useful to show you words that sort of look like it.

This is not useful: if I don’t have a word in my memory, I want the concordance search to clearly show that. I don’t want it to show me words that, since they contain most of the letters in the word I’m looking for, are considered by the algorithms used by SDL to be similar enough.

Not only this is not useful: it is positively annoying and harmful: if the program does not show any concordance, I just go on with my translation. If it shows a bogus concordance, I waste some precious time before I realize that the help I’ve been offered by the program is crap.

Case in point: I’m translating some marketing copy about watches, and wanted to check in my memory how I had translated previously the adjective “striking”. Turns out I had not translated that word before, but instead of indicating that no match had been found, Studio offered as suggestions “ticking” and “training” (with “ticking” considered as a 79% match for “stricking” and “training as a 75% match).



A memo to whomever designed the concordance matching algorithms used by Studio: if two words are not the same, they are not a match for each other: not a 79% match, nor a 75% match. Don’t waste our time with bogus matches that are no help at all.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Déjàxu X3: 20% discount until May 30

If you are planning to buy déjavu X3 (or upgrade to this new version), Atril is offering a 20% discount until May 30.

To take advantage of the discount, used code CREATIVITY in Atril's web store.

I have good memories about the early versions of déjavu, and of the outstanding service Emilio Benito provided: I was one of the very first users (I think that the serial number on my diskette was as 27), but I haven't used the program in over twenty years now.

Still, it's good that SDL and Kilgray still have competition.

Update: Role of Translation in Nation Building now available also as an eBook

Role of Translation in Nation Building (see my previous post about this book), a book edited by Ravi Kumar, the President of the Indian Translators Association, is  now also available in eBook format.

If you are interested, you can use this link to go to the Hind Center web page. There you can purchase the book or find more information about it.