What’s in your toolkit?

Any profession has a tool that is symbolic, especially because it is much needed. Physicians have the stethoscope, teachers have their chalk, and so on. And what about translators? When I started thinking about this topic, the first image that crossed my mind was St. Jerome, always with a book and a pen. However, can you image a translator without a computer? And we need more things than just a word processor, you know.
Translation and technology evolved hand by hand – CAT tools were developed from the quest for machine translation systems (read the story here). But the tools of our trade can no longer be restricted to CAT tools, simply because we’re not only translators (as I said in this post). So we need more gadgets. Marketing, for instance, is inherent to any business, because it’s hard buying from a company/person you never heard of. So we need to go pro and learn about websites, SEO, blogging, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and some many other tools I don’t even know about. I’m a gadget enthusiast, I love new toys to play with, so let me show you some tools I find very useful.
  • CATs
I started with Wordfast in 2006, no Pro version back then. It was great – WF was free and no trial time limitation, so I was able to get myself acquainted with a CAT tool. But nowadays, there are so many file extensions to be handled that I need more than one CAT tool. Many translators advocate the freedom to choose their own CAT tool (or none), and so do I, and making use of my freedom I chose to acquire a few CAT tools. No all of them cost an arm and a leg such as Trados – and in special occasions, you can find good discounts. In one of these occasions, I acquired Trados 8, Studio 2011 and SDLX, altogether. Other CAT tools I use frequently are Across and Passolo. I have experience and have the installer file of other tools, but since I don’t use them much, they’re not part of my kit.
  • Aligner
I hate WinAligner and WF Aligner. So I started looking for an alternative and found Abby Aligner. I don’t remember how I found it (spam, maybe?), but this tool works some magic with me. The alignment is quicker and cleaner than other tools I have tested. There’s one special tool, called TM Builder, which I haven’t been able to test yet. It looks good, you don’t need to install anything. If anyone gives it a try, let me know.
  • Social Networks
I like Tweet Deck a lot. I use it only to read the tweets that pop in my window when posted. It may be distracting if you’re working and need to be fully concentrated, so it’s nice opening it only when you can get distracted.
To post, I prefer Hoot Suite and Buffer. Both allow me to store that good site I have found and only post it in certain hours of the day, so there’s no flood of posts for my followers.
  • Glossaries
I have built many glossaries, divided by client and field. But now and then, I receive a project where they overlap, so I have to keep both XLS files open (yes, I prefer XLS). Now, I compile my glossaries in a tool called Any Lexic, which allows me to sort the glossaries by topic and language pair, very useful!
  • Project Management
I use TO 3000 for accounting and project management. It’s not the best tool, there are a few flaws and redundant work I have to do, but it is the least worse accounting tool I have found so far (suggestions are much appreciated!). I can create a project and insert a few pieces of information, such as amount to receive, deadline, name of the vendor who requested the project. I can also create invoices, keep track of payment terms and payments made.
My editing and proofreading tasks are paid per hour, so to keep track of the hours I spend in a task, I use Grindstone. I just found it user friendly, no other reason.
To keep my clients updated about my availability, I have embedded a Google Calendar in my website. And I also use the Outlook Calendar, so in order to keep both correct, I use Google Calendar Sync. You can choose to update both ways, or only Outlook to Google, or vice-versa.
To share heavy files, I use Dropbox, I don’t really trust other methods (although Sugar Sync looks promising). And to convert PDF files, I prefer Nitro PDF – for the PDF files I have converted into DOC, this works better.
For contact and calls, I use Skype. I have set it up to forward calls to my username to my cell phone, so whenever someone needs me and I am not online, I am still reachable. Also, it is a good tool for conferencing and video collaboration. If you want to know more about Skype tweaks, you may find this post useful.
  • Quality check
Besides the using the quality checks plug-ins that come along with the CAT tool I am using, I also use Perfect It for DOC files. It checks the consistency of the text – if all tables have titles, if acronyms are explained in their first appearance, etc. I have used it for English and Portuguese and it worked very well.
Once I am finished, I also use Xbench for bilingual files. If the TM is trustable, I export it and use as a sort of glossary (key terms) so I can be sure that the next was consistently translated.
Now your turn
Tell us! What are the tools you hold closest to your heart?Any tool you have to use, although you hate it?
  1. Anonymous

    Thank you! Your post helped me!

    5 years ago

  2. Michele Santiago

    That’s fantastic! I hope you find more useful tips around.

    And thanks for visiting!

    5 years ago


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