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 A computer journal for translation professionals

Issue 16-9-265
(the two hundred sixty-fifth edition)  


1. Areas Where Excel Does Not Excel (Premium Content)

2. The Tech-Savvy Interpreter: Training Interpreters Online: What Kinds of Technologies Does It Take

3. News from Tech World

4. In Memoriam: Terry Oliver . . .

5. Upper Austria

The Last Word on the Tool Box


An interesting news release arrived last week from the folks who have for years promised a 300%+ increase in productivity when using their machine translation solution. Asia Online renamed itself to "Omniscien Technologies" [sic]. "Asia Online," originally an allusion to the formerly-great-but-today-rather-pitiful America Online, says that its former name is no longer appropriate because the "largest portion of our business [is] in Europe."

That sort of makes sense. But the new name? After puzzling about it a little I think I've finally understood. In an uncharacteristically humble gesture, they may be trying to communicate that "Omniscien" sounds a bit like "omission," which is something that their translation products encounter all the time. After all, the underlying translation engine is not and will never be quite "omniscient."

On a more serious note, I'm really pleased with this Tool Box Journal. I hope you'll enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.


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1. Areas Where Excel Does Not Excel (Premium Content)

I have used Translation Office 3000 (TO3000) as my invoicing and accounting tool for years, and I like it. It serves my purposes and requirements and it's been stable and reliable. And yet, while there really aren't that many must-have innovations needed to make it better, I have grown very frustrated with year upon year of promised but non-materializing new releases and products from AIT's management. (AIT is the company that develops TO3000 as well as a number of other translation-related products, most notably Projetex, a project management tool for small to midsize LSPs, and AnyCount, a well-liked word count tool.)

That being said, there actually was a new release of Projetex last week, though it seems to be relatively incomplete with a client and vendor web portal still in development. And another vague promise of a new version of TO3000 in "September or October."

So... I've been looking around a little bit to see what else is out there -- especially for the freelance translator. And I'm happy to report that I've had a chance to talk to three different developers who seem to be on the right track.


I first talked with Eugene (Yauhen) Kuchynski, the sole developer of BaccS ("Business accounting system"). Eugene lives in Belarus, has worked as an English-to-Russian translator for the last seven years, and before that worked as a programmer for an accounting software for two years. Not a bad combination for creating an invoice and accounting software for translators, you might think, and so did he. The software he created is completely online- and cloud-based (the data is hosted by US-based, and it's free. Well, kind of: expect to pay with your eyeballs on Google advertisements. Unlike what his competitors offer (see below), this software is directed only toward freelance translators.

Eugene is presently in the process of also developing a parallel Windows-based desktop product that he plans to release later this year. This will be a paid product (without advertisments), and he is still open to what the actual cost should be. (Be sure to let him know what an acceptable price would be.)

What actually caught my attention with BaccS is that it's the only product to allow for the migration of data from TO3000 into its own database. You'll understand the relevance of this feature if you have used a tool to manage your accounting and invoicing for some time. If you're in that group, you know a) that you've accumulated a lot of data in your tool's database, and b) it's data that you really want to keep (after all, the basis of any kind of business intelligence is underlying data, so to make comparisons between your profitability during certain stages of your career, you can't just start from scratch to collect data again and again).

Eugene hasn't "cracked" the database that TO3000 uses, but he has written a program that queries the (open-source Firebird) database that TO3000 uses to give up the data voluntarily (reminds of when I tickled my brother until he spat out the very last of his secrets he wasn't otherwise willing to share!). Eugene points out that the data migration function is still in a beta stage of sorts, but in general it works -- at least for what it's supposed to do. It's not transferring any of your carefully crafted templates or any settings in TO3000 but most if not all the data you entered about clients, jobs, invoices, payments, etc.

I really like that.

Otherwise it's a product that is easy to understand and easy to use. It doesn't have any bells and whistles, but it might just do the trick for you.

That many still "need that trick done" was vividly on display last weekend when I gave a technology workshop to NOTIS, the Northwest Translators and Interpreters Society, in beautiful Seattle. There were about 100 participants, and maybe three or four of them used some kind of off-the-shelf product for invoicing and accounting. That's not a lot. Not that it's the only way to do business, but it's sure easier (and more informative) than with Excel.


Protemos ("Professional TMS" plus a couple vowels) is the second system I investigated. Protemos was developed under the auspices of the Ukrainian translation provider Technolex Translation Studio but is now a separate entity, headed by Technolex's former CEO Volodymyr Kukharenko (Technolex still owns a minority stake in Protemos and serves as the primary testing ground).

I had talked with Volodymir years ago when then-Technolex launched ChangeTracker (see my report right here), a tool to compare edited bilingual files (including all kinds of flavors of XLIFF, TMX, etc.). I knew back then that Volodymir (and a whole bunch of other people) had left AIT (the afore-mentioned developers of TO3000) and started Technolex as their own company, so I wasn't surprised to see them develop translation tools as well, but I was surprised that it was a different tool than what AIT had done in the past. Well, it turns out they've been busy working on a workflow/project management/accounting/invoicing system that's quite different from AIT's. Protemos uses a different programming language (PHP/MySQL rather than Delphi), is online- and cloud-based rather than desktop- or server-based, and has an altogether different feel.

When Technolex first started to use a translation management system for its own needs, it used XTRF, one of the two very large and complex systems that many LSPs tend to use (the other is Plunet). And they realized, Volodymir said, that "it's a nice tool but it's like a spaceship when only a bicycle is needed." That's when they started to develop Protemos about three years ago. So, I asked, is Protemos a tool for smaller language service providers? No, he said, it's a tool for companies with not overly complex workflows.

Protemos is a young tool (even though it already has 350 user accounts and 100 corporate accounts), so there is much that still needs to be done. Presently it's not possible to add custom fields, modify templates to any reasonable extent, use workflow automation, have vendors and clients use online portals, or read the analysis logs of translation environment tools -- but each one of these features is going to be developed in the near future. Right now, Volodymir says, he is "gathering feedback to make the system better."

Which is why it's free for everyone at this point. Come January 2017, language service providers will pay about 80 euros/month or 560 euros/year per simultaneous logon.

Freelance translators, on the other hand, will always use the system for free.

And really, at this point, it's the freelance version that is most interesting, I think. Unless you are a very small LSP, I cannot imagine that you'll have the patience to wait until all of the above-mentioned features are implemented. For freelancers, however, the system is already quite usable.

It's unfortunately not possible to migrate your data from TO3000 if you use this system (clients -- and vendors -- can be imported only through Excel, or, of course, manually), and I think it's unfortunate that each of your invoices will have a link to the Protemos website at the bottom as a quasi-payment (I have a feeling that could be negotiated away), but everything else looks rather usable.

Any of the data you enter (or any file you save) in any version is stored in the cloud, which is hosted in the Netherlands (by WorldStream). (Really, the only difference between the LSP and the freelancer version is that there is no vendor module in the freelance version and a handful of reports of the otherwise fine reporting feature are missing.)


The most mature of these products has to be QuaHill. QuaHill is from Czechia (my spell checker doesn't like this spelling yet, but it had better adapt because it's now one of the official terms for what was formerly known only as Czech Republic). This does explain the product's name, though, since "qua" is the sound a duck makes in Czech. I'm not sure how much of a non-sequitur this is, but that's what DEVdivision's David Ondracek told me the first time we talked a few years ago.

DEVdivision is a company that custom develops software. They had no particular leaning for or against the world of translation, but when they finished the custom development of a project management tool for a language service provider, they liked it so much they bought it back from their client and started to market it on their own. Since then QuaHill has become DEVdivision's flagship product. It comes in two editions, an enterprise edition for language service providers and for a few months now also as a freelance edition.

The enterprise edition can be had in either a cloud edition or a server-based installation. The default cloud server is located in Czechia (spell checker still doesn't like it), but there are also other slightly more expensive locations available.

The freelance edition cost something like 10 euros a month, but after David and I talked again, the company decided to give it away for free. (You're welcome!)

Here's what he wrote:

"Yes, QH Basic will be for free. Problem is that we do not have the web pages updated yet. So would it be possible for you to mention it in your newsletter but also say that web is not updated yet and it is really fresh and new information."

I am very excited about this and I would really encourage you to have a look at QuaHill.

Surprisingly, QuaHill is a Windows-based desktop tool (which of course accesses online-based cloud data stored in robust MS SQL servers). That's surprising because as you can see from the other tools mentioned above, a browser-based tool is the more likely choice nowadays, and one that clearly has some advantages.

So, for larger translation companies with a highly mobile or distributed work force, this might not be the best choice, but for the typical LSP with a central office location (and of course many outside vendors), this might work. So far about 150 other LSPs have thought so.

As you would expect, the difference between the enterprise and freelance version is the missing vendor component in the freelance edition and a number of features associated with it. (Here you can see a comparison chart.) This includes the online portal for vendors and clients that can be found only in the enterprise edition. (I asked David how much he thought the two portals are actually being used, and not surprisingly he said that the vendor portal is used a lot, but the client portal not so much. Still it's important for LSPs to have that feature available in a sales presentation to a potential translation client, I believe.)

The system processes log files (files with word and match counts) from a number of translation environment tools (Trados, memoQ, Transit, Translation Workspace) and supports a more comprehensive integration into Trados Studio Professional, making it possible to build and create Trados projects right within QuaHill when files are received. Outlook and Thunderbird are supported directly through plugins as mail clients so that mails can be sent directly through QuaHill but also stored and recorded in your email program. Any data that is produced by the system (such as invoices, reports, or activity logs) are generated in four different languages (EN, DE, CZ, and FR).

Automated workflows are supported but not pre-defined to make the system as flexible and customizable as possible. It's also possible to use a first-book-first-get system, so that a language service provider can send out a job to many translators and the first one to book it gets it, and I really like the way exchange rates are handled: they are refreshed daily on the basis of your favorite bank or currency service.

One thing the tool unfortunately doesn't do (yet) is import data from TO3000 or Projetex. I've talked to David about that and strongly suggested that this would be a good option, so I wouldn't be surprised to see that feature soon.

If you are a small or mid-size LSP and in need of a (new) project management system that isn't overly complex, take a good look at this tool (and Protemos mentioned above). If you're a freelance translator without a good way of managing your projects and finances, you'd be plain silly not to have a look at this (or the other two tools). In the case of QuaHill, you might have to wait a few days until the website is updated to reflect the very attractive price of $0 (feel free to change the currency symbol, the number will stay the same). Once the website is updated, I will also announce it in my Twitter feed



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2. The Tech-Savvy Interpreter: Training Interpreters Online: What Kinds of Technologies Does It Take? (Column by Barry Slaughter Olsen)

September is back-to-school month in the United States and many other countries around the world. Students and teachers head back to the classroom after recharging their batteries over the summer. Interpreter training programs are no exception. So, for this edition of the Tech-Savvy Interpreter I want to tell you about a new remote teaching pilot project I've launched and introduce you to some of the technology I'm using to teach classes and stay in contact with my students because for the next two years, I'll be teaching my interpreting classes remotely from Washington, D.C., while my students continue their studies at the Middlebury Institute in Monterey, California, roughly 3,000 miles away.

Distance teaching and learning aren't new. The University of Geneva has been innovating in this field for years, and the European Commission and European Parliament have built different platforms to facilitate collaboration between Brussels and the many interpreter training programs across Europe and the world. In North America, Glendon College launched an MA program in interpreting whose entire first year of instruction takes place online, and my alma mater the Middlebury Institute offers online and hybrid interpreter training courses. Just like businesses, governments and organizations around the world, universities are trying to figure out how to implement new technologies and build online educational programs that provide excellence at a reasonable cost. Professional associations are also beginning to use online learning platforms to provide continuing education to working interpreters as well.

Something important to get straight from the outset is that I am teaching my classes synchronously. That means we meet remotely every week for two hours, just like a regular face-to-face class. There are also some asynchronous elements to my courses but they are in support of our regularly scheduled weekly sessions. Also, in order to build good rapport with my new students, I taught my first two classes of the semester face to face in Monterey. 

Three Learning Tools for Teaching Consecutive Interpreting

In order to "meet" virtually with my students and hold class I use a modern enterprise-class videoconferencing platform by Polycom called RealPresence. My students in Monterey meet in a videoconference-enabled classroom equipped with a large flat-panel display, HD camera with PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom) capabilities and necessary microphones and speakers. The classroom can seat up to 12 students comfortably, all of whom I can see and interact with easily. The PTZ camera allows me to adjust my view of the room to be able to view a particular student, group of students or the entire class at once. They see me on the large flat panel screen. I can also share my screen with the classroom.

On my end in D.C., the office that I teach from is equipped with a Windows 10 PC with a fixed HD camera. I have Polycom's RealPresence Desktop software installed on my computer. This software allows my computer to connect to the classroom videoconferencing system and see my students on screen. In order to ensure the best quality audio on my end, I use a USB headset with a boom microphone that plugs directly into my computer. If you are curious, my preferred headset is a VXi Passport 21V with a VXi X200 USB adapter. The headphone is light, durable and offers quality sound.

The Polycom RealPresence Desktop software is easy to install and I can have versions on my home office and laptop computers, which gives me the flexibility to teach from my home office or the road. It is important to note that I have equipped my home office with a fiber optic broadband internet connection (150Mbps down/up) to ensure I won't have Internet bandwidth problems. The connection at my DC office is similar. A much lower bandwidth would also be acceptable (i.e. 10Mbps down/up) but I prefer the extra peace of mind that comes with that kind of speed.

This isn't Skype. And this kind of technology isn't readily available to individual consumers yet, but it will be in the future. Zoom Video ( is almost there, especially when coupled with the Kubi telepresence robot from Revolve Robotics, which gives a teacher full far-end PTZ controls.

This setup allows me to teach my consecutive interpreting classes almost as I would if I were physically present in the classroom, with some obvious restrictions -- I can't move about the classroom or look over the shoulder of a student at his/her notes. But aside from that, it is business as usual.

I also felt it was important to establish an alternative communication channel with the class, in the event we have problems with the videoconferencing system and for class-related communication throughout the week. I did not want this second communication channel to be dependent upon the same network connection as the videoconferencing platform, so I created different WhatsApp groups for each of my classes. (If you are not familiar with this secure instant messaging system, you can learn more here.) This alternate communication channel is instantaneous and easy to use, since all of my students have smartphones. This also makes it possible to get class-related messages out to them instantaneously during the week.

In addition to the videoconferencing platform and WhatsApp, I am using the Canvas learning management system (LMS) to organize all materials and assignments for the semester-long course. For the previous nine years I used Moodle as my LMS. Canvas is a huge step forward in terms of functionality and ease of use. Learning management systems are quickly becoming standard fare at all levels of education in the United States for both face-to-face and online learning.

These are just three of the technologies (videoconferencing, instant messaging and learning management systems) that I am using this semester to train interpreters online. There are more technologies I am using, but I'll have to leave them for a future column.

Do you have a question about a specific technology? Or would you like to learn more about a specific interpreting platform, interpreter console or supporting technology? Send us an email at



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3. News from Tech World

Memsource has released a major update (version 6). I had a brief chat with David Čaněk and Konstantin Dranch about the new features, and there are several that should interest some of you. In the last Tool Box Journal I talked about Iceni PDF Editor and and the progress it represents for translators working with PDFs. One thing I said was this:

It is awesome that Iceni is planning for a number of integrations into translation environment tools. The development of an SDL Trados plugin will be launched soon, they've done what needed to be done for an integration with memoQ (and are now waiting for Kilgray to do its part), and another yet-to-be-named TEnT will have it fully integrated in its next release.

And guess what that yet-to-be-named translation environment tool is? Memsource, of course. Why "of course"? Because Memsource has really been leading the way in creating partnerships with other companies that specialize in areas that Memsource does not. I've written about this in the past and David assured me that we will see a lot more of that coming in the future.

To use the Iceni integration into Memsource, you will have to pay the regular fee to Iceni, but as I said last month, this is rather affordable. (You can find a guide to using the Iceni product with Memsource right here.)

Another new feature of Memsource 6 includes direct connectors to Dropbox, Google Drive, and FTP servers as well as the possibility to develop connectors to any content management system with a viable application programming interface (API). I asked whether those custom developments would have to be paid separately, but David suggested that they would rather have them be "paid off" in a longer-term commitment to using the system.

Aside from typical speed improvement (promises -- I did not have a chance to test it) and newly or better supported file formats, there is also an integration into Salesforce, which -- interestingly -- many LSP clients who are not impressed with XTRF or Plunet as their workflow and ERP system have started to use instead. Very interesting, especially in light of some of the new upcoming systems mentioned elsewhere in this Journal.


Here is an interesting new proposition: ElasticTM. It's a product -- or maybe you want to call it service -- that has grown out of the research of the EU-funded EXPERT project (I'll spare you the rather painful long form of what the acronym EXPERT stands for) and is now being further developed and marketed by Pangeanic, a Spanish translation service provider and the developer of PangeaMT (which I reported about right here).

ElasticTM is a cloud-based translation memory (or, alternatively, it can also be installed on your server) that proposes a new paradigm. So far we have associated translation memories with a specific translation environment tool, but ElasticTM is proposing to divorce the two. Yes, you'll need a translation environment tool to provide you with the user interface in which to conduct the actual translation, but one of its important features -- access to the translation memory -- can be done remotely, both in the sense of location and origin. (And for a language service provider, this might mean that they wouldn't have to use the expensive corporate edition of translation environment tools anymore.) ElasticTM is a translation memory that can be connected to any translation environment tool (at least theoretically -- presently there is only an add-on connecting it to Trados Studio, and others will be developed as customers ask for it). It can then be shared in real-time with other users, no matter what (compatible) tool they're using.

That's the first element that makes ElasticTM interesting. The other is that it uses a number of "deep learning" methods to provide for a very thorough subsegmentation and the possibility of replacing numbers, fragments, and tags (it's the latter that makes it particularly usable across different translation environment tools). The fragment replacement can happen through other TM content or MT content. Manuel Herranz from Pangeanic likened this to Déjà Vu's approach to assembling and dynamically fixing translation memory content, only in a cross-technology kind of way.

I'm very excited about the possibilities of this, and to me it's yet another sign that the silly per-word pricing will just go away on its own. (Can't follow that logic? Check here.)

Oh, and the price point for using the system? Between 5,000 and 6,000 euros (with unlimited user seats, language combinations, and access queries). Sounds like a lot, but it sure beats corporate editions of translation environment tools anytime. 


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4. In Memoriam: Terry Oliver . . .

. . . just passed away. Terry was a German-into-English translator and a passionate advocate for our profession, which among other things was expressed by the many positions he held in translators' associations. I met him personally only twice, but he frequently sent me tips and tricks, several of which made it into the Tool Box Journal over the years. Here are a few that never made it (published now unedited and uncommented):

  • Why don't more people use, or even mention, Stuffit for Windows? It does everything the other zip programs do, but can also unzip and re-zip Macintosh .sit files. So if you get one of these from a frantic client you can -- without having a Mac -- unzip it, work in Windows on the MS Office for Mac files it contains, zip it up again as a .sit file and send it back.
  • For German speakers there are a load of smart (and not so smart) add-ons available from SmartTools. For example, the free Format- und Konvertierungs-Assistent, which does the same as your utility for stripping superfluous paragraph marks and also converts Umlauts if required. Unfortunately, it's only for Word.
  • There is also a Multiple Search & Replace add-on for Word. The restricted version is free, but the pro version doesn't cost the earth.

And here are some translation stories from Terry:

I have been devouring "Found In Translation", and although I have not quite finished it, I thought I would pass on a few thoughts that crossed my mind.

  • I realise you can't cover everything even in this anecdotal form, but I feel you missed a potential Oscar for the best translation of an English film title into German. As you probably know, film titles translated into German are notorious for being misleading, uninspiring or just plain boring (or all three at once), but the person who translated "The Runaway Bride" (Richard Gere/Julia Roberts) deserves a medal for a brilliant play on words: "Die Braut, die sich nicht traut".
  • Many years ago, my parents were being taken round Burg Eltz, in the Eifel, by a young German student who spoke pretty good English. After an interesting but rather depressing tour of this very dark and gloomy castle they emerged into a kind of foyer where the sun was shining brightly on a superb suit of armour. "And here," said the guide with a flourish, "is a genuine medieval knight-dress!" As you can imagine, my parents, taken by surprise, were unable to contain themselves and fell about laughing...
  • A few years ago my wife and one of my daughters were on holiday in the Canary Islands (Teneriffe?). They went for a trip in one of those observation submarines for tourists. As in an aircraft, the trip was preceded by a recorded safety spiel, which was apparently rendered very well into German for the many German tourists. Maybe my wife and daughter were the only ones really listening -- after all, it was only a safety announcement -- but they were certainly the only ones who noticed that if there were problems with the cabin pressure, they should grab one of the hydrogen masks (Wasserstoffmasken) that would drop from the ceiling. (A pity it wasn't helium masks -- great visions of a crowd of tourists gabbling in Mickey Mouse voices!)

Godspeed, Terry!



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5. Upper Austria

Professor Georg Löckinger of the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria has asked me to republish this, which I'm happy to do because it's an interesting resource:

"In 2015, a group of students at the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria (bachelor's degree program Product Design and Technical Communication) carried out research on technical writers' use of tools and their information research activities. The study showed that while there are quite some free language resources (such as terminological databases) and language technology tools (such as for text analysis), no directory of these is available. In a follow-up R&D project, students and teachers have thus developed an information portal on language resources and language technology tools, which has been published here. The portal is designed to support technical writers, translators, interpreters as well as documentation and terminology experts in their daily work. While the information portal itself is available in German only, many of the resources and tools listed cover other languages, too." 



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