Synergy, TypeItEasy and External Review: videotutorials

I started this blog to practice my writing skills outside translations, so I always blog in Spanish. However, since I think that these tips and videotutorials will be useful to many outside of the Spanish-speaking world, please allow me to make an exception and blog in English for once.


I would like to share with you a nice tip to work with two computers (that is, two screens) at the same time. Up until last week I had an old 19" display and its resolution was not enough to have my CAT tool and some visual reference on screen at the same time. That is a problem no more with my new monitor, but please imagine I still have that old monitor for the purposes of this tip.
Synergy works on Windows, GNU/Linux and Mac and lets us use a single keyboard and a single mouse to control two (or more) computers at the same time, that is, expand our screen real estate. We translate on the server PC, which is the PC with the bigger display, and move over to the client PC, which is the PC with the smaller display.

Let's see how.

Input Director (Windows-only alternative), and a nice tutorial for it (link currently down due to the perfect storm at the East Coast)


Are you tired of entering Alt+0133 to get an ellipsis? Tired of typing Alt+0151 to get an em dash? Tired that some key shortcuts only work in Word or in Trados? TypeItEasy is the solution to your troubles. This software allows you to assign a key shortcut to type complex characters. In my setup, Right Windows + hyphen enters an em dash. Right Windows + dot enters an ellipsis. And many others. This software only works on Windows, but I am sure there are similar solutions for GNU/Linux and Mac. Please share your preferred solution in the comments!

Let's see how.


External Review

Have you ever revised your own translation, thought everything was fine and then cried in despair when the proofreader comes back to you with a huge error? How could you possibly not have noticed it? A nice trick to see your own translation from a new perspective is to print it. But if you are a geek or an ecologist you will try to avoid printing unless strictly necessary. One way to avoid this is to simply change the font, or use a different environment to edit. However, if you use Trados Studio, you usually are not able to change the text font. One way to avoid this is to use External Review.
External Review exports your bilingual text to a Word file with multiple columns. After the editing is done, the revised file is updated into your Trados Studio project and you can finalize and send it to your client.

Techniques To Help Spot Typos In Your Translations
SDL XLIFF Converter for MS Office (only for Trados 2009, not required for Trados 2011)
More SDL OpenExchange apps

That's it. I hope you find these tips useful. Let me know in the comments if you run into any problems or if you have different solutions to these problems.


  1. The best solution I've found to the 'type symbols' issue in Linux is the Compose key. With it, you can obtain some symbols by pressing COMPOSE and then 2 or more keys. For example:

    COMPOSE, L, - → £
    COMPOSE, Y, = → ¥
    COMPOSE, <, < → «
    COMPOSE, -,-,- → —
    COMPOSE, ., . → …

    More info about compose:

    In several Xorg apps (eg Chromium or anything gtk -or Qt-based), there is also the possibility to directly enter Unicode code points in text fields by pressing ctrl+shift+u and then the hex code point. This, however, is exactly as awkward as the ALT+nnnn trick, but can be helpful when compose isn't enough.

    1. So, GNU/Linux has native support for quickly accessing non-standard characters through X Window. Nice. If I understand correctly, there is a list of supported characters and then these may be expanded by the user. I like it how the shortcuts make sense (stroke an L, you get a pound sign, three hyphens make an em dash), so they are easy to remember, even if sometimes they take a lot of keystrokes: 4 just to get an em dash. Quite an elegant solution, nonetheless.


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