Android phone for a Freelance Translator


This may sound unobvious, especially for a conservative bunch, skeptical about all that gadgetry, but Android qwerty slider is arguably one of the best productivity/GTD tools a Freelance Translator can get. I am pretty sure, that Windows Phone 7 devices can also do the job with different tools and methods, and so does Blackberry, but I don't know much about those two. And no, iPhone is not an option here. Give it to your kids. In this post we shall cover capabilities of Android phones in context of Freelancer's life, and workflow.

Mail Client with Push notifications

All your customers naturally want you to reply their emails ASAP, and you want to comply. From my experience, reaction time is one of top Translator's qualities from PM perspective, 20 minutes during your business hours is a good figure, and in case if you think that it would be like "conforming to a customer", you are right, that's exactly what it is.

Why Android? Because of its integration with Google Apps, and specifically Gmail. You are getting immediate push notification on incoming emails, the phone can vibrate if necessary. When you receive such notification, you simply swipe the screen, and type your reply. The experience is as smooth as with your regular texting.

Why slider? Onscreen keyboard would make it much slower, and more painful. Trust me, you don't want to try that.

Your phone provides seamless access to your business email when you're away from home, AND when you are on your couch, in your kitchen or your garage. You don't have to attend your desktop to check the email anymore, which is a good thing. Spending 10-30 minutes less per day in front of the monitor can actually help you live longer.

Wi-Fi Tethering

Any freelancer needs a backup Internet connection. Period. If you don't think so, wait untill you loose a customer because of missed deadline. Android phones can tether (share) their 3G connections via USB or Wi-Fi, which means that all your Wi-Fi devices will stay connected during the outage, and switchover will be relatively transparent. I know, that there are lots of smarter/more efficient/cheaper ways to get a backup connection (you can buy a USB 3G/LTE modem, or a router with two WAN inputs), but this one is good enough to stay online, use email, and various online resources. Besides, if you already have the phone, you don't need to buy anything.

The feature is called 3G Mobile Hotspot, and it's available with all newer versions. There should also be unofficial mods/apps with the same functionality.

Getting Things Done

Another great feature is project tracking/GTD across all your devices: tablets, laptops, PCs, etc. At any point of time you may have 4 to 10 and more projects on your shoulders with deadlines ranging from "ASAP" and "in 3 hours" to "in 5 weeks" and "whenever you have time" (the worst of them all). Even seasoned translators make mistakes here, forgetting about very small tasks with very large timeframe, confusing "Noon" with "EOB", and "EOB our time" with "EOB your time" (happened to me recently).

You can register your project emails as events or tasks in Google Calendar, and access your project schedule from all your devices — PCs, tablets, laptops, et cetera. Even from Internet-enabled TV, if you have one.

This will work not only for your projects, but also for other stuff your need to do at some point as a business, or house owner (financial reporting to government, paying your bills, and taxes etc.), and even as a partner/spouse/parent/child (birthdays, and other important dates, school events, you name it). Adding GTD to one's lifestyle requires a major change of habits, and it is not for everybody, but anyone will benefit from using this approach for production, and bookkeeping.

There are plenty of free, and paid apps, that synchronize with Google Calendar. My preferences are Gtasks, and Pure Grid Calendar.

Social Media

I am only starting to use Social Networks for marketing, my Twitter account is like 2 weeks old, so I don't have much to say on the subject. Pretty obvious however, that it makes much more sense, if one maintains their social influence (tweeting, retweeting, answering comments, etc.) on a small screen, and while doing something else, like travelling in a subway, or waiting in some kind of line. There are plenty of native and 3rd party clients for your social accounts. Things to try: Hootsuite, Twitdeck.


To sum up: qwerty phone improves your relationships with your customers, ensures peace of mind as a backup connection media, helps to maintain your schedule, and bookkeeping, as well as to stay away from your monitor. In the end it saves great deal of time. Worth a try, don't you think?

I have probably missed one or two interesting use cases, so comments/additions are welcome. I also encourage WP7 owners to describe their solutions for issues above.

Why do I hate Logoport (aka Translation Workspace), part 2


Part 1 can be found here

As we have found in Part 1, Translation Workspace is a business model based on charging your suppliers for the privilege of working with you. It was never intended to act as a "real" CAT tool or tested as such. I don't think that TW developers have ever heard about such illusive ideas as productivity, ergonomics or user experience, and even if they have, they couldn't care less. The result is major usability flaws, which make Translation Workspace even better target for our devoted hatred. I wanted to make a numbered list, but I couldn't decide which flaw is the worst to put it on top, so it's unordered bullets.

  • Repetition handling. Surprisingly, Translation Workspace doesn't save a segment to TM immediately when you close it. I think it happens once in several minutes, so if your file contains considerable amount of reps, you'll have to retype them, use copy-paste or save the file before opening each repeated segment. Major waste of time.
  • More on repetitions. "Master" TM overrides your changes no matter what. It means, that if a segment is present in Master TM and occurs in a file more than once (imagine 20 instances), and you need to edit it, you'll have to go with retype, copy-paste or find and replace. In the ideal world, where nobody is hungry, everyone is using solar power, and can date Megan Fox or Johny Depp if they want to, Master TM would contain only perfect, thoroughly checked and approved translation units. In real world however (goodbye, Megan) Master TM is the legacy of the time, when nobody cared about localization for developing countries (Russia in my case), content was sourced to very cheap local sweatshops and published without any checks. Being a professional, you have no choice but to correct all that is wrong, so even more of your precious time goes to waste.
  • Stability. All facets of Translation Workspace are highly unstable on my scrupulously clean finely-tuned working system with the best broadband you can get (believe it or not, I can watch a 1080p movie from Netflix server on the other side of the world without any hiccups). Every 30 minutes or so Translation Workspace hangs. Sometimes for good, sometimes it returns to normal in 10+ minutes. And no, I am not the only one with this problem. Guess what it does to your precious time?
  • Latency. Moving between segments is always accompanied by a delay. It can be anywhere between several seconds and half a minute based on the server workload. Having delays like this for such a small packets of data is a major failure in the world of Telepresence and MOO shooters. This is bad for two reasons. First you loose ~2h per 1000 segments compared to any real CAT tool (This is big. 1000 segments may often correspond to ~2000 adjusted words which take approximately 4 hours to translate in a normal tool. 4h+2h=6h => ~50% overhead). The second reason is described in the next bullet.
  • Pop-ups. Lots of pop-ups. Obviously, the process of translation implies strong concentration. Open the segment -> Type your translation -> Place tags if needed -> Move to a next segment > Go on. Carefully set up hotkeys, no pauses, no distractions. For experienced translators it develops into a meditative state of mind, in which one almost completely ignores the external irritants, which may include TV, construction work outside or your wife saying something about supper or taking away the garbage. Loosing this concentration is painful, and that's exactly what happens when continuity the process is interrupted by a pop-up window. "Are you sure that you are freaking sure sure?" Pop-up when you move tags in a fuzzy TU, pop-up when you're closing a segment with different spacing around a tag, pop-up when "new segment is coming from TM" whatever that means, pop-up for no-specific-reason-just-for-the-fun-of-it, etc. I haven't used Logoport for a while, so this list may be incomplete. Anyway you work slower, and guess what, waste your time.
  • XLIFF editor doesn't support any export. Yes, it's true. Not only poor souls have to buy Logoport, they actually must work in it. No choice at all.
  • Various minor, but still irritating bugs. For example, hotkeys may just stop working for reason unknown. It can be solved by restarting the application, but given the exhaustive five-step login process, it converts to even more time waste.

No big conclusion here, sorry. Just one thing: time is money; everyone who wastes your time is as good as thief and should be treated as such. Feel free to post your experiences here, I am sure I have omitted something.



Just wanted to let you guys know, that I have added Feedburner — supposedly "smarter" subscription/feed service — to this humble collection of rants.

Feed URL:

It provides seamless one-click subscription for pretty much any reader, sparing a few moves, so make yourself at home and hit the fancy  button on the right.


Why do I hate Logoport (aka Translation Workspace), part 1


I have seen plenty of bad CAT tools, and only two or three really good ones. Some were particularly ugly, like IBM Translation Manager or Multilizer 4.0. (I have translated several thousand words in fourth version of Multilizer in 2010. Since then I prefer to call it Mutilizer [HA-HA]).

However I have never had any emotions about those, working with bad proprietary tools is a part of the job. When you manage to export files to something you can open in your favorite environment, you win. When you don't, it's like whatever. Ultimately all CATs are the same.

But this tolerance failed me when I became familiar with Logoport/Translation Workspace. I hereby admit that I hate it from the bottom of my heart. Reasons are not entirely clear even for me, but I'll try to analyze them for your amusement. So...

First of all it's Logoport's shameful history, which started when SDL swallowed Trados. Lionbridge became dependent of one of its dire competitors, and felt somewhat uncomfortable. For SDL on the other hand this situation opened wide array of exciting opportunities. So Lionbridge went shopping, and bought small unknown company with unknown undeveloped downright useless copy of Trados macro, which communicated with server instead of local TM. Note that it was long before the cloud hype, so Liox can be considered kinda visionary from this perspective.

Then the fun started. By moving projects to Logoport Liox earned some hard cash and lost what was left of their goodwill among translators, because of "optimized" WC algorithm: Similair (but not equal) no match segments within the same project were considered fuzzy. The basic matching mechanism was also "improved" compared to other tools on the market, for example Introduction -> Implementation is considered a high fuzzy, because those two words are so much alike. Don't you agree?

The more, the better. Logoport remained free for a few years, and everyone got used to it. Just another ugly proprietary CAT. Then someone in Lionbridge came up with a brilliant idea: Let's charge for it! Our suppliers will have no choice but to pay, if they want to continue working for us, and our suppliers' suppliers will also have to pay for the same reason. Free cash! And free cash it was. Some good translators left, but SLV agencies who received over 50% of their work from Lionbridge had nowhere to go.

As you can see, greed is the only reason this tool exists. It was purchased to avoid paying SDL for Trados license on their conditions, and used to rip off vendors in several ways. Noone ever cared about insignificant stuff, like usability, testing, or customer care. Cash keeps flowing, and most "clients" don't have a choice, but to buy and use our "product". Why bother? The result: user experience nightmare.

This leads us to Part 2 of this story — technical/usability reasons why I hate Logoport.

New horse in the stable

All translators, who have been around for some time, have a roster of tools to make their life easier, and improve quality of their work. (This may not be obvious, but the former is a direct precursor of the latter.)

The easiest examples are Apsic Xbench, and Apsic Comparator. I won't be telling you, how great, and useful they are, this is not the subject of this post, but if you don't have them, go get them here right now.

Another thing worth mentioning is search/replace tools, which are essential when you revise a project that contains hundreds of files. My choice here is Text Workbench, which supports binary Office files unlike the competitors.

I can go on, but that's not our subject again. To the point:

Recently I have learnt about the tool, which seems to be just as useful as Xbench for certain kinds of jobs, more specifically liguistic QA of localized web sites, and applications via screenshots, or browser. The idea is very simple — the tool consists of two panes. You open a source screenshot or web page on one side, and a localized target one on the other. Then you compare them, and go to the next pair with a click of a single button.

The tool is opensource, and thus it is flighty, and unstable, but it's still much better than two browser, or image viewer windows.


You can also download the compiled file here

Can't wait to try it for "big" web application testing. Great addition for my roster.


Thank you, Google.

A couple of weeks ago my precious business email on gmail became unavailable, some weird account maintenace error. This is a kind of a disaster — loss of business, loss of clients, not to mention the overwhelming feeling of suspence, and insecurity. It was fixed after only six hours, and I didn't loose too much, but it could be much worse — for some the similair outage lasted for weeks.
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