alexpgp: (St. Jerome w/ computer)
<Insert usual rant about translation of Excel files here>

<Insert usual speculation as to ancestry, sanitary habits, etc. of people who compile Excel files for translation here>

The Excel file took longer than expected, resulting in closer than usual margins on delivery.

However, the important thing is: documents were delivered on time.

What remains is a short 500-word item due by the time I go to sleep tonight.

* * *
In completely different news, I have run across a trove of marvelous stuff on YouTube (finally), mostly having to do with classical music and other types of performances (I even ran across several versions of Aznavour's La bohème, where the singer accompanies his singing with gestures one might associate with an artist).

For a while, there, I thought that YouTube had somehow escaped the purview of Sturgeon's Law.

alexpgp: (Default)
Someone had to be first.

I just got a sales pitch from SDL Trados that includes, as the first of five reasons to upgrade to an upcoming version:

Your clients will soon be sending you Microsoft Office 2007 projects

Oh, be calm my throbbing heart!

I'm sure there will be "early adopters" out there who not only will be using Office 2007, but also will figure out a way to shoehorn the use of new, "improved," and - when it comes down to it - completely extraneous features into their documents, so that only a translator equipped with Vista + Office 2007 will be able to handle the work.

Best of luck to 'em.

If memory serves, Microsoft bought a 10% share of Trados back before SDL and Trados merged, which may help explain the FUDdy thinking.

alexpgp: (Default)
Speaking of gripes, I just spent two hours nailing down some recent invoices.

Part of the time was spent backtracking, as I sat and scratched my head wondering what had happened to an invoice I thought I had written, but which I had not.

That should teach me to not make exceptions to my informally stated rule of: Don't turn the computer off without invoicing completed work, or making some unmistakable gesture (like writing words in blood on the bathroom mirror) to make sure you don't forget to do so!

A rule I did not forget today was my other invoicing rule of thumb: Don't consider the invoicing as complete until you've transmitted an invoice to the client!

Part of the tedium, of course, has to do with folks that still want you to return a signed something-or-other as part of their process. Fortunately, my Strobe XP100 is helping out tremendously with that. (It's actually easier to print out the form, sign it, and scan it with the Strobe than it is to embed a signature graphic in it.)

* * *
There was nothing to eat in the house earlier in the day, so Galina took me out to lunch. Her first preference was a Luby's, but the one we stopped at had an arctic temperature setting inside and a very long line for service. My next preference was a Vietnamese phơ restaurant, where I had a soup, Galina had charbroiled chicken over steamed rice, and we both had a spring roll apiece and that curiously strong coffee that's served with a mini-drip coffee brewer and a dollop of condensed milk in the cup underneath.

We still have nothing to eat in the house.

* * *
The work plate has been refilled. I am going to try to squeeze at least a half-day off sometime this weekend, though.

alexpgp: (St. Jerome w/ computer)
Generally, the first thing that pops into one's mind when one wants to complain is... to complain!

And there are many instances when this is the proper, and likely the only, thing to do.

However, complaining is tricky when the entity you're complaining to is a client.

So I basically sit on any such complaints for a good while, which generally ends up with my not delivering them. ("A good while" is, of course, a relative term... I thought about the complaint that prompted this post for perhaps as long as 30 seconds before deciding it wasn't worth pursuing.)

For example, a little while ago, I was thinking of mentioning to my French client that they ought to make sure that source files are properly rendered before sending them to me (here I had in mind yesterday's little imbroglio with the strangely fonted source file), but in the end, rather than convey the idea that I wasn't equipped to handle such glitches, or that I was deveoping into a prima donna freelancer, I deleted the sentence and went on with my life.

What's worse, even completely innocent remarks can sometimes be interpreted as complaints. My most famous instance was the time, early in my translation career, when I wrote, "This was a very challenging document to translate" in an email cover note. I later found out that the project manager took this as me saying that I was in over my head, and for that reason, I lost out on a number of subsequent assignments.

As I said, though, there are exceptions. Some time ago, a client sent an assignment in which over half the pages were handwritten reports by several doctors, mostly illegible. As I was not prepared to spend many hours trying to decipher such scribblings, I did raise the issue with the client, and ultimately, never got the job. But as the issue was raised with full consciousness of the possible loss of work, I have no regrets.

Ho-kay! The translation plate is officially cleared, with all files sent to clients, and I have no upcoming interpretation assignments (though I expect a call this afternoon).

(Actually, that's not the case: I have a 10-page contract to translate for Sunday! But a fella can dream, can't he?)

alexpgp: (Default)
The current job includes a number of sentences that have been mindlessly inserted by software at the client's office, the idea being that if a source sentence is sufficiently similar to something already in the database (75% in the case below) it makes sense to stick the corresponding translation from that database in the source file and have the translator "edit" the result.

The idea is not so much to make the translator's life easier or to expedite the turnaround of the job, but to reduce the payment made to the translator, since the rate of payment for "editing" is, with this client, 25% of the rate paid for translation.

Take the following example, consisting of the original text, followed by the "suggested" translation, followed by my, um, "edit":
Договор будет толковаться и исполняться, а споры, вытекающие из Договора или связанные с ним, будут разрешаться в соответствии с материальным правом Российской Федерации, исключая коллизионные нормы.

Limitation of liability of the Parties”), the Agreement shall be interpreted and carried out in accordance with the Governing Law (the substantive law of Russia, excluding provisions pointing to the laws of another jurisdiction).

The Contract shall be interpreted and performed, and disputes arising from the Contract or related to it shall be resolved, in accordance with the substantive law of the Russian Federation, except for rules governing the choice of laws.
Just a light edit, dontchaknow.

If I had been engaged to translate the sentence, I would have earned 38 units for 38 words translated. However, as there were 34 words in the original "suggested" translation, and since what I am asked to do is simply "edit" the suggested text, what I actually end up with is 12.5 units... for 38 words translated.

It's not all as bad as this example, but the fact is that, in the long run, doing a conscientious job costs me money.

Enough whining. I'm about 1/3 of the way through today's quota. Back to the face of the salt mine.

alexpgp: (Default)
...and a strange recollection-connection occurs.

There's a marvelous line in one of the routines in George Carlin's Class Clown album - I think it was the one on heaven, hell, purgatory, and limbo - where Carlin, assuming one of his many voices, says, "Hey, I can do an eon standing on my head!" He was, if memory serves, speaking of purgatory at that point of the routine, describing it as a kind of "temporary hell," where one spent some number of eons in expiation of earthly sins.

Relatively recently, as I tackle more and more translations - and especially short translations - when I get down below 1000 words remaining in a translation, I've begun to think that I'm home free.

And thus, as I start the last 1000 words of the item that I must complete today, it just popped into mind - reminding me of Carlin - that, "Hey, I can do 1000 words standing on my head!

(That is, if I knew how to stand on my head!)

I now return to my less-than-1000 words.



Feb. 24th, 2007 10:07 am
alexpgp: (Default)
I am currently busier than a one-armed, one-legged paperhanger engaged in a butt-kicking contest to see who gets to bail the water out of a submerged submarine equipped with the screen door.

(If that makes no sense, well... it was a nice try in the heat of battle!)

I need to finish 6,000 words today!

But I also feel a need to (briefly) rant about (and critique the ancestry of) compilers of documents whose lists of abbreviations nail only stuff like "UN = United Nations" but give no clue for arcane items like "EUGRDS" (I made that up) and force the reader - and in this case, the poor translator - to jump through hoops to gain understanding of what is meant.


We now return to our translation.

alexpgp: (Default)
My current big project weighs in at over 12,000 source words. I had planned to do them all between today and tomorrow, for delivery tomorrow night. That would allow me a day and a fraction to work a smaller project, comprising 4,000 source words, which is due to a new client on Tuesday. With the deks thus cleared, I'd be ready to fly to New York to visit my dad on Wednesday.

The translation memory I worked on developing from old source and target files at odd times over the past couple of weeks paid off today, allowing me to translate over 10,000 source words today. (I might well have finished the job, but for the incident of the file that could not be saved, but that's spilt milk and best forgotten.)

I think I will take the rest of the evening "off."

* * *
A few days ago, LJ friend [ profile] daphnis pointed out that, besides initiatives to regulate iPod use while crossing streets and to outlaw the spanking of young children, politicians in one jurisdiction (and I'm aware now of several) want to mandate having 11- and 12-year old girls innoculated with the HPV anti-viral Gardasil as a condition of being allowed to enter middle school.

It just so happens I caught an ad televised earlier this evening about Gardasil, and if someone tried to tell me that I had to get my daughter injected with that stuff, I'd have a fairly rude response, especially given the fact that most of the ad seemed to consist of lawyer-inspired weasel words that, in addition to exacerbating the misery of listening to advertising, didn't quite inspire high levels of confidence in the efficacy of the substance.

It seems the only opposition to such plans - or at least the only opposition that gets any news coverage - comes from a certain segment of the right wing that is aghast at the prospect of any measure that could be interpreted as encouraging - horror of horrors! - premarital sex among teens.

Presumably, if the drug prevented cervical cancer but somehow encouraged young girls to be abstinent, the roles of proponent and opponent would be reversed. In the end, however, aside from some small smattering of libertarian types, nobody today is much interested in arguing whether or not it's right to force medicine down people's throats. The issue at hand is: what medicine shall we force?

One of these days, of course, the plot line of several science fiction stories will come to pass: Some incredibly compelling drug is going to have side effects that, unlike Thalidomide (which resulted in deformed babies in fairly short order), will turn out to have serious consequences years down the line, at which point everyone involved will turn out to be pure of heart, if not of pocketbook.

Such ideas should be opposed on principle, or if adopted, then adopted on the basis of overwhelming and proven benefit, and not the vagaries of the next election.

alexpgp: (Default)
I cannot abide end clients who provide you with source documents that can only be viewed on one's screen and printed, but not opened in their native format (PDF in this case). The result forces me to either (a) work off of a printed copy or (b) circumvent the password protection.

Since (b) is easier, that's the route I take, although it wastes time.

So what's the point?

In any event, I am off to my sim.

alexpgp: (Default)
A torrent of work really let loose today, with one client calling to find out how much of a 150,000-word project I can take over the next few weeks. I gave the appropriate answer and figured that, with a good load of translation to do, it'd be a good time to go visit the old man in New York, so I'm set with JetBlue for a departure next week.

I am gathering new clients. One, from up north (but not that far up) actually got back to me after several days with a fairly sizeable job with a reasonable deadline - I had figured they'd decided against meeting my price - but they then subjected me to the hazing ritual of "registering" with their web site, which turned out to be no big deal, in the end, but reinforced a valuable lesson: never assume your password is "invisible" to others. (I had toyed with the idea of creating a rude password, not out of any personal animosity but simply out of frustration, but decided against it; lo, and behold, a few hours after registering, my contact person sends me a reminder email with my login and password, just in case I forget them!)

I got an email this morning from an outfit in France, too. They wanted me to do a short job, and I'm not sure we ever decided that I'm going to do it, but the deadline is tomorrow, so I went ahead and did the job. These folks have something of a track record on, so I'm not too concerned that I'll be left holding the proverbial sack, though I am concerned that I spent altogether too much time on the assignment to make it worth my while no matter what they pay me (short of some ridiculously large, lottery-like amount).

My telecon this morning ran very nearly the full two scheduled hours. At the end, the speaker for the Russian side remarked that had been pleasant speaking with everyone and that the interpretation had been very good. It didn't occur to me to do anything but interpret what was said, whereupon the folks in the room somehow got the impression that I was pulling their leg with that last part, so they laughed, which caused the fellow at the other end of the line to ask, "Why is everyone laughing? I'm saying that seriously!" I thanked him for his kind words before the connection was broken.

So here it is, just after 6 pm, and I feel as if I've accomplished a lot, and accomplished not much at all. Tomorrow's calendar calls for me to participate in a mission simulation starting at 1 pm. I should also send a note to my PM regarding my trip to New York next week.

alexpgp: (Default)
Today's telecon nearly blew my mind.

I was interpreting for the one Russian participant among a group of technical types discussing the finer points of closing out work. Such discussions can assume such aspects of hair-splitting discourse as to make the most studious law student quake in his or her shoes.

That kind of stuff doesn't bother me, much. After all, my job is simply to parrot what is said.

And I can soak up quite a load of verbiage before having to unload, the way a capacitor can accumulate an electrical charge. The only problem is, both I and most capacitors have a limit.

In the end, after the conversation got completely away from me this morning, I paused and tried to gently remind the participants that I could only do my work if they limited their utterances to one or two sentences. (I should have said breaths of air, because this one guy was able to go on for about five minutes without leavening his spoken words with much punctuation to start with, least of all a period.)

In the end, I ended up deliberately "stepping on" people who started to respond without giving me a chance to do my thing. In retrospect, I don't really feel too good about having done so, but then again, I don't think I had too many alternatives (if I had merely shut up, I think the telecon would've gone on for a long time before anyone - except, perhaps, the Russian sitting in - would've noticed the absence of the interpreter).

(I probably ought to have gotten the hint yesterday, when the background documentation for the telecon turned out to be about 60 pages in length!)

* * *
The floodgates have opened up again. After agreeing to do another 7 am telecon tomorrow morning (involving Linux, of all things!), I got the document I had expected to receive last Friday, and shortly after that, I got a call with a request to do a rush French-to-English translation of a contract.

Said contract has taken the better part of 9 hours, including all the research, but the result - just over 4000 target words - will go out the pipe here shortly. And so, too, I will go to bed, as it turns out that in order to get out of this place in good order for a 7 am telecon, I need to get up at no later than 5:30 am.

alexpgp: (Default)
...because my function this week is, apparently, to fill in the holes of my best client's schedule.

I am not complaining, mind you.

Today, I filled in for the last couple of hours of a simulation. Tomorrow morning, I am scheduled to do a 7 am telecon.

In between, I filed all of my outstanding Colorado unemployment tax returns today, and made some additional progress in my alignment job, passing the 50% mark just a little while ago.

I experienced a moment of... concern as I wondered what would happen if the client I am doing the alignment for were to call off the job. Right now, you see, I'm doing the alignment as part of the work involved in doing the translation, but if the translation goes south... I wonder what'll happen?

Apropos of which, the job inquiry yesterday generated 62 words of a sample translation, which was submitted as a PDF file the same day. The response to a message sent late today indicated my work was still being evaluated. Hmmm. We'll see, though I have my suspicions. (I wonder if I get "points off" for submitting the sample as a PDF instead of a "standard" Word file?)

Galina's "Wednesday-out-with-the-ladies" took a vacation this week, and perhaps forever. Apparently, one of the "regulars" who hadn't been around two weeks ago didn't take much of a shine to my bride during last week's get together. Galina, in turn, doesn't feel like sticking her nose in where it isn't welcome. I guess those old clique-y habits are really hard to break.

In any event, if you suspect that is a site devoted to everyone's favorite filler for holes and cracks, think again. Check it out (Flash required).

alexpgp: (Default)
No phone calls, few emails.

One came from an outfit in Minnesota, asking about a 1000-word translation. I could find no negative reports about the company on or on the splendiferously named "payment practices" Yahoo! Group, so I went ahead and responded with a time and cost estimate. Another message popped into my inbox a few minutes later, asking me to translate a few paragraphs of the sample that came with the first message.

Cases have been reported where unscrupulous agencies have asked a bunch of "prospective translators" to quote on a job and to translate a "sample" so that the agency could assess the candidate's work, but in such a way that the entire document was divided up and assigned as a "sample" to however many translators as would be necessary to, in fact, complete the translation.

If you're thinking that the result might read funny, you're right, but there are agencies in this industry who don't really care as much about the product as they do about the commerce, and there are customers (end clients) who don't really seem to care much about anything except how much a translation is going to cost.

I don't seriously think there's anything underhanded going on in this case, but I am not pleased to get an email inquiry from an agency I've never worked for where the only thing I have to go on is the domain name in the return email address. (Still, with only that, I was able to track down the company's coordinates, very likely its previous name, and phone number. I love the Internet!)

I finally got down to aligning the source and target files for the job that's supposed to arrive in a few days, and am only about 25% finished. I lay the blame for my slow progress solidly on having nonchalantly picked up Mind Prey, by John Sandford, last night and getting hooked, but good. I read it on and off through the day, between alignment sessions, and finished it shortly ago. I swear, giving me a Sandford book is like handing an alcoholic a bottle of Johnny Walker.



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