19 September 2019

Switching to Mac, take #2

I've now worked on my MacBook Pro for at least a couple of hours a day for over three months. I'm happy with the hardware and amazed how good the Time Machine is when you need it. I have not yet had to rebuild the machine (i.e. software, apps and files) but am confident that should the need arise it will go very smoothly. This is a huge advantage over the major hassles associated with rebuilding a Win10 machine, something I have had to do far too often over the last three or four years following a number of Win10 crashes and failures and various hardware failures. It took me three or four days each time and I never seemed to get things back to exactly the way they were before.

More generally the transition is going less well. I tested the LibreOffice word processing package throughly, but found it had too many shortcomings to suit my needs. Next I moved on to Microsoft Office 365 and more particularly Word 365 for Mac, but was astounded to find that it is very different from Word for Windows OSs. The shortcuts are all different, the autotext hardly works at all and many, many other tricks of the trade had to be relearned, sometimes painfully. And, after two months on Word 365 there are still some things that I used to be able to do under Win10 but still can't under MacOS.

Other disappointments abound.

  • When searching for files by their name, I find Spotlight cumbersome compared to Everything.
  • When manipulating files, I find the MacOS Finder and ForkLift cumbersome compared to Zabkat's xplorer² File Manager.
  • When searching for text in a file, I find both Spotlight and HoudahSpot utterly hopeless compared to dtSearch.
  • Though loudly proclaimed, I find HoudahSpot clunky and incredibly slow when searching for anything more than a single word. Unlike dtSearch it appears to be completely incapable of searches like searchwordroot*, let alone searchwordA within N words of searchwordB (searchwordA w/N searchwordB) and fuzzy searches. dtSearch does any of these in an instant and displays the relevant portion of any file I select in the list of hits.

Conclusion

For me and my workflow, Mac offers a couple of big benefits (reliable hardware + Time Machine) and a host of shortcomings.

If I could find a PC manufacturer offering the sort of hardware reliability that was still common ten to twelve years ago and an app to faithfully backup then reinstall a Win10 OS complete with all the settings for all my apps, I think I would return to PC in a wink.

So for the moment I have decided to persist with my Mac conversion process. I will soon install 

Parallels® Desktop 15 for Mac

 and Win10 so that I can use Office 365, IWS, dtSearch and Everywhere under Win10.

I will report back here in due course.

21 June 2019

Switching to Mac, take #1

The Macintosh computer first came out, with a memory capacity of 128K, in 1984. I purchased my first Mac, with 512K of memory and a pinwheel-drive matrix printer, in 1985 or 86. It was powered by a large and heavy uninterruptible powersupply, or UPS, containing an iron-core transformer. In 1989 I purchased a more powerful SE30 with a 10M external hard disk and a portrait-style A4 screen. Each item represented a significant investment. Indeed the first two were made with the aid of bank loans. To protect my investment, the hardware was covered by insurance policies for theft, breakage and lightning damage, my house and office being in a rural area.

Earlier this month, after my new Asus laptop died just six months after the guarantee had expired and some serious frustration with Microsoft Windows 10 and Office 365, I decided to switch back to Mac, specifically a MacBook Pro. Fearing that it would take some time to bring my keyboard reflexes up to speed and more still to become familiar with all the new software, I would not have given the switch a moment's thought had I been working full time. But, being mostly retired, I saw the transition as a challenge.

I have now been playing around with my MacBook Pro and LibreOffice Writer for two weeks. I'm making reasonable progress but my keyboard reflexes and software skills still leave a lot to be desired. Amazingly, I have yet to work out how to select text then extend the selection one word at a time using the keyboard rather than the mouse or touchpad in Writer, Mail, or any of the other apps I use.

I suspected before making the switch that dtSearch does not work on Mac, nor anything like it and that the same is true of IWS. For further details, see dtSearch + IntelliWebSearch, take #2. In a private emails, David Thede, the author of dtSearch (hence the 'dt' in the name), and Michael Farrell, the author of IWS, confirmed that their products are not compatible with Mac, that no Mac versions and planned, and, worst news of all, that they knew of no comparable products that run under the MacOS.

Has my use of dtSearch and IWS won more admirers, others might have joined me in the quest for the best alternatives on Mac.

So far, I have found only HoudahSpot for harddisk-wide searches, but so far it appears to be a very poor second to dtSearch. To make better use of the keyboard and shortcuts, I am exploring  PhraseExpress and Keyboard maestro.

* Finally found out how to select or deselect the next word. Amazed that this was so difficult to find.
** The command I'm now looking for is how to get the cursor to return to where it was before moving it to somewhere else to, say, select some text.

dtSearch + IntelliWebSearch, take #2

Back in November 2011 I posted on this blog -- then in its third month -- under the heading Term mining pioneer. This post quoted a case study posted on the dtSearch website entitled
dtSearch Case Study — SDC

SDC Arms Itself with dtSearch for its Translation Services for European Naval Defense and Other Industries 

On 12 June 2015 I posted here under the heading dtSearch + IntelliWebSearch. This was followed, on 9 October 2015, by Glossarismo, dtSearch, IntelliWebSearch and more and, on 6 July 2016, by dtSearch + IntelliWebSearch, latest.

If memory serves, I first purchased dtSearch in 1998 and began using IWS in 2015. Between then and a couple of weeks ago when I decided to switch to a Macintosh computer, I considered myself a power user of the combination. Despite my posts here, talks at translators' conferences and one-on-one discussions with many colleagues, very few have followed my lead. One reason is that some of my most esteemed colleagues have always worked on Macs. A second, more important reason, is that I began using these tools for my particular kind of work when many others were beginning to use translation environment tools, or TenTs (aka translation memory applications).

I have never been tempted to invest much time in TenTs for three reasons:
  1. the repetition rates in my field of work are so extraordinarily low that the arguments concerning matches and fuzzy matches seem irrelevant
  2. the other supposed benefits have never seemed cost-effective to me relative to the amount of time people like me (i.e. slow to adapt to new software) have to invest in learning how to fully exploit them
  3. I have always found that dtSearch + IWS meet my particular needs very well indeed while allowing me to work with the one application that I know really well, namely Microsoft Word.

That said, I have added one trick to my armoury. After delivering a translation, I always generate and file bitext of the original French and my English adaptation. After producing these for many years using Terminotix's LogiTerm, I have switched more recently to using Terminotix's online tool know as YouAlign powered by AlignFactory. I then access my bitext files using dtSearch + IWS. Among the many search options offered by dtSearch, I find myself making intense use truncation (searchwordroot*), searchwordA within N words of searchwordB (searchwordA w/N searchwordB) and fuzzy search.

For a detailed article on this approach, see Transcreation, examples from an online newsletter, #1.







21 March 2019

Full circle

After completing a BSc in physics and maths in Australia and extended travels in Africa I found a job in Paris that left me with considerable free time. I began to buzz with the thrill of total immersion in French and the speed at which I gained fluency. Months later I began a sort of apprenticeship in the art of technical translation with a chap named Werner Kowarsch. Later still, I set up in Paris as a freelance French-to-English translator.

The BSc quickly proved useful as most translators in Paris in those days had degrees in literature and languages and very little knowledge of matters more scientific or technical.

I met French engineers who had tried unsuccessfully to work with translators from purely literary backgrounds who were no match for their technical documents. They greatly appreciated my understanding of their subject matter and terminology while, unbeknown to them, I was busy working hard on my French, my written English and my technical writing skills.

A chance encounter in the mid-1970s with an engineer who worked at CNES, the still young French space agency, led to a friendship and many years of work. Claude Gourdet had just been appointed to lead Prospace, CNES's first initiative to promote the country's budding space industry, and promotion naturally meant producing documents in English.

This enabled me to move from Paris to a rural setting in south-west France within striking distance of Toulouse – where the Toulouse Space Centre, or CST, was expanding rapidly. I worked from home, received most jobs by overnight mail from Paris or Toulouse and delivered them in the same way. I owed a great deal to Claude and to the efficiency and reliability (How things have changed!) of La Poste, the French postal service.

Among my many contacts at the CST was a Monsieur Saint-Etienne with whom I got on very well indeed. One of M Saint-Etienne's responsibilities was to produce CNES's first bilingual thesaurus on spacecraft. He was also the agency's delegate to the International Telecommunications Union, or ITU, where he was involved in drafting standards on space telecommunications with me providing input in English. This was my first experience in formal terminology, and I found it fascinating.

By the early 1980s I was working less for CNES and more for Spot Image, a spin-off set up to develop and launch Spot remote sensing satellites and to promote and market the resulting imagery. From my earliest apprenticeship with Werner Kowarsch I had learned how to make and organise notes on problem terms and equivalents that needed to be recorded (at first using just pencil and paper) to ensure consistency when other jobs came in on similar subjects. By the eighties, I was working on a Macintosh computer and compiling a lot of terminology.

In 1986 I published the first edition of my French-English glossary on Spot, remote sensing and their applications. Between 1986 and 1999 I published ten editions of this glossary with modest sales success, the last one comprising some 8,000 terms. The production process involved printing my Microsoft Word files on A4 paper, then taking this output to a shop to be photocopied and bound. Distribution was by hand delivery or book post.

A handful of Toulouse-based translators became aware of my glossary, including Marie-Jeanne Jarry, a full-time Russian-French translator and interpreter at the CST until 2013) (LinkedIn page). This led to my appointment as an invitation lecturer for a 20-hour terminology module that was part of the first diploma course in technical translation to be offered at a Toulouse university. My title was chargé de cours, module Terminologie, DESS en Techniques de la Traduction. The course was run by the LEA (langues étrangères appliquées) department at Université de Toulouse-Le Mirail. I gave the course from 1994/95 to 2005/06.

Fast-forward to January 2019. I was in Toulouse for the day and decided to call on Ian Margo who had set up and was still associated with Coup de Puce Expansion, aka CPE*, a Toulouse-based language service provider. In the 1990s, Coup de Puce had won a contract to provide translation services to my former client, the CST. (I held a similar contract for French-to-English translation services in the early 1980s.) I mentioned that I am now semi-retired, but sometimes found myself under-employed and was thus looking for translation or terminology work but wanted to avoid working to tight deadlines or with translation memory tools (aka translation environment tools, or TenTs).

I did well to mention this because it turned out that Coup de Puce has a contract with the CST to add content to and resolve non-conformities in a vast terminology database shared by all its language service suppliers. The database uses a web-based application called Aplikaterm developed by Joliciel Informatique. Ian had to consult his team but felt confident that Coup de Puce would be happy to have me work on the database.

What a great arc these decades of work have cast! After a first encounter with formal space industry terminology at the CST in the late 1970s, the publication of a glossary on a satellite-based remote sensing system, and several years teaching a short course on terminology and terminology management, I now find myself working with Coup de Puce on the CST terminology database. I have challenging work ahead of me and feel – I think it's fair to say – that this aspect of my career has come full circle.

* CPE is an a private company (an SARL under French law) comprising ten partners, all professional translators.

03 January 2019

Lexicon backstory: How ... gave rise to a different type of Fr-En lexicon

The ATA has posted an article I submitted on the Science and Technology Division's blog.
The article, dated 3 January 2019, is entitled A Lexicon Backstory and subtitled How transcreating promotional technical journalism gave rise to a different type of Fr-En lexicon

In it, I explain how my French-English Lexicon of Naval Technology -- which is now freely downloadable -- came into being.

10 November 2018

PerfectIt

Here is an exchange of Facebook messages and emails with Daniel Heuman, CEO & Founder of Intelligent Editing Ltd.
Twitter: http://twitter.com/intelligentedit
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PerfectItSoftware

I posted my first impression using the contact link:
I just tested PerfectIt and sent them some feedback. It reads:
This is not a request for support, just feedback. I tested your app and found it to be a complete waste of time. It appears to be totally incapable of distinguishing between simple successions of words like "armour plated" in "the ship is armour plated" and qualifiers like "armour-plated" in "an armour-plated ship". Utterly useless. You don't appear to have worked out the difference between grammar and consistency.
PerfectIt CEO Daniel Heuman responded promptly saying:
Thanks for looking at PerfectIt. I'm sorry it's not for you.

On that error, our philosophy is that human beings make the best decisions about grammar and language, and they always will. So the software doesn't try to check grammar. Instead, it shows possible errors and leaves everything up to the user. So you're absolutely right. It won't understand the difference between "armour-plated" and "armour plated" in that context. However, it has an onscreen warning about adjectival compounds so that users know to look out for it. The only alternative would be to have the software check it. Would you really trust a machine to understand differences in grammar and language?
As I say, I'm sorry we couldn't win your business. It sounds like you have a deep understanding of grammar, so I would have hoped that you'd really like the philosophy behind the program. We're always working to reduce the false positives it shows, so I hope you'll consider us again in a few years.
Best wishes,
I followed up with:
For my first test, I had PerfectIt scan a highly technical text of 30,500 words (sample articles can be viewed here) containing 845 hyphens, one of which turned out to be misplaced. PerfectIt queried every single one of these plus many hundred of word strings that were not adjectival compounds. Tedious, to say the least. Your excellent reply has at least given me the urge to test other aspects. Let me add, however, that where technical writers and translators are concerned, software that pretends to check hyphen but cannot distinguish between adjectival compounds and similar strings of words in other contexts simply fails to make the cut. If I have helped you to clarify this for others that might be useful. One more point, when viewing your site and installing the software I didn't see any indication as to which languages PerfectIt can analyse.
Then with:
Daniel.
Thanks again for your prompt reply via Facebook.
I will shortly place our exchanges on my blog.
I have now corrected my inconsistent use of ‘commandos’ and 'commandoes', also ‘Scorpène’ and ‘Scorpene’, though I notice that the app wasn't able to distinguish between the singular and plural forms of this proper noun (the name of a French submarine that the manufacturer changed half way through this project in response to feedback from me which I then failed to double-check before delivering my document).

I have now been through the other checks that PerfectIt runs and, overall, was rather impressed. (see result below) It is also closer to meeting my needs than Antidote which was a huge disappointment to me despite the claims of many of my colleagues. Many of the PerfectIt checks are both thorough and well thought out even if they don't match the needs of a technical writer or translator drafting texts for specialist readerships where acronyms are used in different ways from the guidelines applicable to those writing for lay readers.
Conclusion: PerfectIt looks like a very useful tool for most writers and translators working in/into English, despite some serious limitations in the case of technical writers and into-English translators drafting for specialist readerships where acronyms are used differently from the guidelines applicable to those writing for lay readers.

PerfectIt offers one feature that Antidote does not, namely a 30-day money-back guarantee. This plus PerfectIt's free, full-scale 14-day trial are significant advantages.

25 October 2018

A French-English Glossary of Naval Technology

Below you will find version 15d of my French-English Glossary of Naval Technology dated October 2018.

This glossary or lexicon is intended for French-to-English translators and writers specialising in technical journalism. The layout is an attempt to deal with a terminological challenge specific to journalism, whether technical or general, namely the benefits of direct access to multiple designations (aka synonyms) avoid repetition for stylistic reasons.

The glossary began as a simple Word document about 20 years ago and has simply grown and grown. To accommodate the amount of information it contains, I have adopted a custom page format (36cm wide by 25cm high). The idea is not to print it, but to use it on your computer display.

Until yesterday, the glossary was sold via Lulu and Lulu redistributors. From today, it is offered free of charge.

Download it here. File size: >4M.


Send comments and feedback via this blog or to the email address in the file.



Switching to Mac, take #2

I've now worked on my MacBook Pro for at least a couple of hours a day for over three months. I'm happy with the hardware and amazed...