Friday, January 29, 2010

How to have more desktop on your laptop

Recently, my desktop computer suffered from a chain of problems. I had to send it for repairs twice; In the meantime, I’ve relied on my laptop.

When I use my laptop for short periods, or when I travel, I just use its built-in screen. For more sustained work, though, the small laptop screen is a hassle, with its tiny fonts and limited vertical space. So I connected the laptop to my desktop monitor.

At first, I just turned off the laptop monitor and used only the desktop one. Now, however, I’ve learned a trick that could prove useful to other people working from a laptop: I use both monitors at the same time, but, instead of displaying the same Windows desktop on both monitors (as you would do when projecting a Power Point presentation, for example), I extend the Windows desktop over the two monitors.

Several translators use a setup with two desktop monitors connected to the same computer. I did not know it could work also with a single desktop monitor and a laptop computer.

To use the laptop in this dual screen mode:
  1. Put the laptop under the desktop monitor
  2. Click Fn+F5 (your laptop might use different keys)
  3. Select the dual monitor setup
  4. Right click on the Windows desktop, click properties and select the Settings tab
  5. Grab the inactive monitor icon, and drag it under the active one
  6. If the computer displays a message that the second monitor will be activated, click on “Yes”; otherwise, select the check box “Extend my Windows desktop onto this monitor.”
  7. Click apply
  8. If necessary, click again on the Windows desktop, click properties, select the Settings tab, and adjust the resolution of the two monitors
Now, instead of a single 1280 x 768 laptop monitor, or even a 1280 x 1024 desktop one, I can effectively use a 1280 x 1792 split screen.

In the top part (the desktop monitor), I have my translation editor (MS Word or Tag Editor). In the lower part (the laptop monitor) I have Workbench with my translation memory, XBench with my glossaries, and maybe other reference applications, like WordWeb Pro.

Two big monitors side by side would be even better, but this is already a big improvement over a laptop’s small monitor.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

How to run two copies of Trados freelance while sharing the same Internet connection

You work from home, together with your partner. You decide to try a program that supposedly can help you do your job better and faster. In spite of a few defects, you find that the new program really helps, so you buy a second copy for your partner, and install it on her computer. Runs great on her computer as well, but, as soon as you launch it from yours, the program detects the copy running on her computer and reverts to demo mode.

This is probably the most annoying limitation of Trados freelance: two copies cannot run on the same network, even if you have paid for both copies. SDL wants you to buy a pro license.

According to SDL’s the reason is that running two copies of Trados at the same time is something only an agency would, and they want agencies to buy the more expensive pro version. So, if you are not an agency but you live and work with another translator, you are out of luck: you can either run Trados on two disconnected computers (so you cannot share a fast Internet connection), or you can have both computers connected, but only one of them running Trados.

There is a way you can still share the same Internet connection without violating the terms of the freelance license: put the two computers on different networks.

The way I’ve done it is by adding an inexpensive wireless router to our wired home network.

Our computers and various devices connect to our Internet router via Ethernet cables. Also connected to the wired router is a wireless router, to which our laptops can link. When it is time to launch a second freelance copy of Trados on one of the computers, I just unplug the Ethernet cable from my laptop. At that point the laptop is no longer on the same network as my partner’s desktop PC, but it still accesses the Internet (through the wireless router).

This is just a workaround and still a nuisance (the physically disconnected laptop no longer reaches some of the peripherals). I suspect that I could find a better solution if I knew networking better, but this is a useful stopgap: this way we can have two copies o Trados running at the same time, from two computers that share the same Internet connection.


Read the comments for better way to sidestep this issue. Also, as Paul says in his comment, SDL finally did the right thing, and this issue no longer affects SDL Trados Studio 2009 (the newest version of the program).

One thing I did not mention before: we do have one copy of Trados 2007 pro installed on my desktop PC, so normally this old Trados issue does not affect us - my wife works on her licensed copy of Trados freelance, and I on my licensed copy of trados pro. However, we also have a second freelance copy installed on a laptop, for use wen, for example, I work offsite. Right now, however, my desktop PC is out for repairs, and I have to work from my laptop, so I was forcibly reminded of this really annoying Trados built-in limitation.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Once again: what not to do when you send out your résumé

Today I received a résumé that is an almost perfect example of what you should NOT do if you want to be more successful in your search for new customers:

  • The author mentioned she had browsed our web page, yet the résumé was address "to whom it may concern". If she had browsed our web page, she could easily have found the names of the partners of our company: sending your résumé to a specific person, instead than to nobody in particular, increases the chance that it will be read.
  • The author said in the subject of her e-mail she was an English to Spanish translator, but she did not include that information in the header of the résumé. Without that information, it is impossible to see at a glance what exactly you do.
  • The résumé was in Spanish, though it was sent to a company based in the United States. As it happens, I do read Spanish, but if I did not, the résumé would have been sent to a person unable to read it. Tailor the language of your résumé to the language or languages of the country you are sending it to.
  • The résumé included work experience not relevant to our profession, such as teacher of English or education coordinator. Only include information that is relevant to the position you seek.
  • The résumé listed first educational attainments, and only afterwards professional experience. Also, it was in chronological order, with older items first. Your résumé should follow the most commonly used format for your target country. For the USA, you should mention your professional experience first, your educational experience only later. Also, you should list your professional experience in reverse chronological order (most recent first).
  • The résumé was much too long (seven pages). One page (two maximum for experienced professionals) is usually more than enough: busy people don't want to wade through seven pages of repetitious information. Be short and to the point.
  • The résumé listed as working language pairs both English into Spanish and Spanish into English. Unless you are truly bilingual (raised as bilingual from an early age), you should give as your target language only your own native language.
  • While the résumé listed as working languages English and Spanish, under "Languages" it only gave French language courses. If a language is not among the languages you translate, do not mention it in your résumé.
  • The résumé had a "hardware and software" section, which may be useful, but then included irrelevant information. Tell the CAT tools and other specialized tools you use (so, do include Trados, Acrobat professional and Auto-CAD, if you have them). Do not include programs that everybody is expected to have (Windows, Office), or outdated software (Adobe 4 when the current version is 9). If you do not use the latest version of some program, it is better to blur the issue a bit, by not mentioning the version number at all.
  • The résumé had a three-page list of translations done. Much more useful is a brief summary that suggests the fields you have translated in (for example, "Translated for customer X medical documents and articles, as well as various magazine articles for customer Y"). A long list of translations is usually counterproductive for two reasons: a) it will not be read, and, b) it gives the impression to be a complete list of all the translations ever done, thus evidence of a relative lack of experience.
  • Finally, the résumé had a list of further education courses, none of which had any relevance to translation (at first glance they seem all to be courses for teachers). If something does not add to your professional experience or attainments, do not include it. If you include something, explain why it makes you a better translator.

This résumé managed not to fall into a couple of frequent errors: it did not include personal information (such as date of birth or marital status), and it did not include a photograph (both no-no's for a résumé aimed at a US prospect).

It is difficult enough to win new customers by sending out a good résumé. Sending one that hides your true accomplishments and looks amateurish further stacks the deck against you.

For more Dos and Don’ts about translators’ résumés, download my article “How Not to Get Hired”.