A translator’s paradise?

Every year I’m lucky enough to attend a few industry conferences which always provide an excellent environment for gathering feedback, spending time on a one to one basis with people working in the industry and generally getting a reality check on the things I do on a day to day basis.  It’s true that I spend a lot of time working in the SDL Community where I do get exposed to the sort of problems people are trying to solve, but it’s really not the same as the exposure you get at a conference, especially if you attend with an open mind and a willingness to learn.  So I always look forward to attending the few events each year that I do.

Last week I attended UTICamp, the Ukrainian Translation Industry Camp, which takes place alongside the banks of the River Samara outside of Dnipro in Ukraine.  I’ve presented at the event once before, in 2016, using a remote connection as I was unable to attend and given it’s 2019 now I feel I missed an opportunity for the last few years in not being there in person!

If you can only attend one event a year I’d highly recommend you choose this one!  I don’t believe there is another event like this where you can combine spending time with your peers, knowledgeable professionals from around the world and your family for the best part of a week in a pine forest by the side of a river!

I had a chat with Stanislav Kalenyuk while I was there and he filled me in with a little history of the camp as his company purchased the area known as “Meteorite” around 10-years ago and has been slowly but surely returning the area to its former glory when it was a children’s camp between 1965 and 2004.

His company, InText, organise the translator’s event once a year and make the area available for other events the rest of the time.  I think he said he can comfortably take around 300 attendees at the moment but has bigger plans and could accommodate more through the use of additional tents.  Yes, tents… how many industry conferences do you attend where you can optionally bring your family and stay in a tent?  If you are wondering what that’s like check out their facebook page which is full of photos and videos showing how to combine work and play in Ukraine!

I opted for a hotel… but even that is an experience.  A delightful walk through the forest and alongside the river in the morning to get to the camp and a trip back by boat in the evening!  The only downside was no internet at the hotel… but when you leave at 7am and don’t get back until after 10pm do you really want it!!

Aside from the obvious benefit of being outside all day, hearing the birds, hedgehogs crawl between your feet as you work, turtles and other wildlife in the river (not to mention the odd mosquito in the evening ;-)) the work aspects of the event are not to be underestimated.  There were three main locations for presentations all equipped with screens, audio equipment, computers and interpreting booths.  I’ve rarely attended an event where everything ran so smoothly and even when you buck the system and need to use your own laptop for a presentation it’s handled seamlessly and without a fuss.

I was also able to comfortably work for a few hours every morning and every now and again throughout the day attending video conferences with my colleagues as if it was a normal office day… normal except I was outside and next to the river in some very useful working booths all with wifi and power.  Normally I wouldn’t even think to mention the organisation at a conference even though I’m certain every event requires a considerable amount of effort.  But in this case the organisation required to support this many people, airport transfers, hotel transfers, meals, entertainment, technical and audio support etc. and all in the middle of a pine forest is worthy of mention.  All of the InText team did a fantastic job!

On the technical content of the event itself… the presentations were all relevant and questioning, dealing with the sort of things we all want to know more about… the future!  You can find the full program here and make sure you look at the kids program and things that went on outside of work!

For me personally the highlights were the focus on Audiovisual Translation with Maria Babkina who opened my eyes to a lot more opportunity for subtitling translation than I’d originally envisaged as she explained about Audio Description and other forms of translation work in this field; spending time with Sameh Rageb and Iryna Lebedyeva who are surely the king and queen of productivity tips and tricks… certainly they’ve given me more than enough ideas to keep our appstore team going for a good while; Katya Filatova and Alessandra Martelli on the transcreation process as we had a very interesting round-table discussion on this very topic trying to find the places where technology and creativity can come together.  There were many more highlights and more people to mention than I have here but I just wanted to share a little of what you can expect when you attend next years event because it is all relevant and up to date!  If you weren’t thinking about attending you should!!

Lastly I’ll just mention another first for me… I was asked at the last minute to deliver a keynote and it had to be non-commercial (the first for me was a keynote… I’m always accused of being non-commercial!)  Fortunately we have no shortage of material for this sort of stuff at SDL as we do consider ourelves to be thought leaders… so I did pull together a presentation on “Change without disruption” to follow Kimmo Rossi from the European Commision. You can find both keynotes here if you’re interested.

So if you’re planning your conferences for next year do think about this one… you truly won’t regret it!  I certainly don’t and I’ll remain hopeful I have an opportunity to attend again next year.  If nothing else, think of the carbon footprint… conferences like this should really be the future, although I somewhat doubt there will be many locations able to provide anything like this!

How do you eat an elephant?

How do you eat an elephant?  Well, of course we don’t really want to eat an elephant, we love elephants!  But if we did want to eat something that large we’d do it in bite sized chunks!  This is something that is particularly relevant when working with large resources such as translation memories or terminology that is freely available from a number of places on the internet.  I’ve addressed this before in various articles… these two are particularly relevant to the topic I’m addressing today:

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Who’s up for a little bit of Passolo?

I can remember being asked in early 2007 to organise a report on the benefits of Passolo compared to other tools that also supported visual software localization.  In the same year, shortly after that, SDL purchased Pass Engineering and SDL Passolo was born.  At the time I didn’t know a lot about Trados Workbench or SDLX either as I had a very different role, and I only started getting interested in the technology we (and our competitors) use in 2008 just prior to the release of SDL Trados Studio 2009 the following year.  In all that time since then, until a few months ago, I’m ashamed to say I’ve never taken more than a cursory look at it.  It’s taken a course I’m doing at the moment at the University of Strasbourg to really bring home the value.  One of the modules on this course is “Localization of Graphical User Interfaces” and under some expert tutorage I’m plugging many of the gaps I have in my knowledge of this industry.  I’m even putting it to good use in my daily work!

Continue reading “Who’s up for a little bit of Passolo?”

Audio Visual Translation in Studio

When I started to look at the subtitling industry little did I know just how fragmented it would be!  For years we have talked about SRT and yet when I look at the filetypes that tools like Subtitle Edit claim to support I find over 200!  Normally I’m not a big fan of standards but that’s probably because I live in a world where there is little variation and supporting different bilingual files is trivial in comparison.  But if there was ever a good argument for one it would be here!  Asking people what format they see most often does help to narrow it down, but as we often find when developing software, the interest usually comes after the event and not before!  So what formats can a translation tool support today?

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Apply a TM Template

Ever since the release of Studio 2009 we have had the concept of Language Resource Templates, and ever since the release of Studio 2009 I’d risk a bet that most users don’t know what they’re for or how to use them.  To be fair this is hardly a surprise since their use is actually quite limited out of the box and access to the goodies inside is pretty hard to get at.  It’s been something I used to see users complain about a long time ago but for some years now I rarely see them mentioned anymore.  This article, I hope, might change that.

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Wot! No target!!

The origin of Chad (if you’re British) or Kilroy (if you’re American) seems largely supposition.  The most likely story I could find, or rather the one I like the most, is that it was created by the late cartoonist George Edward Chatterton ‘Chat’ in 1937 to advertise dance events at a local RAF (Royal Air Force) base.  After that Chad is remembered for bringing attention to any shortages, or shortcomings, in wartime Britain with messages like Wot! No eggs!!, and Wot! No fags!!.  It’s not used a lot these days, but for those of us aware of the symbolism it’s probably a fitting exclamation when you can’t save your target file after completing a translation in Trados Studio!  At least that would be the polite exclamation since this is one of the most frustrating scenarios you may come across!

At the start of this article I fully intended this to be a simple description of the problems around saving the target file, but like so many things I write it hasn’t turned out that way!  But I found it a useful exercise so I hope you will too.  So, let’s start simple despite that introduction because the reasons for this problem usually boil down to one or more of these three things:

  1. Not preparing the project so it’s suitable for sharing
  2. Corruption of a project file
  3. A problem with the source file or the Studio filetype

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A business resolution for 2019…

There are three things that have stood out for me this year.  The first is how much support SDL have provided to their users to make sure they are able to work successfully with their investment.  The second is how little many users are aware of this, and the third is just how many users have used Trados for a decade or more and were not aware of what a support & maintenance contract can bring you.  This last one has been the biggest surprise to me as I’ve spoken to people who thought a support contract was more than the cost of the software; to people who thought it was support only and to people who didn’t know SDL provided any support at all!  So, one of my resolutions for 2019 will be to try and make sure that all our users are more aware of how to get help, even if they don’t want to purchase a support & maintenance contract.  So, I’ll cover these things:

  • Support & Maintenance Contract
  • SDL Community
  • The Customer Experience Team
  • The SDL AppStore Team
  • The SDL Marketing Team
  • Training
  • Customer Experience Program

Continue reading “A business resolution for 2019…”