Archives pour la catégorie My Tools


Is Drive a Dropbox-killer?

25 avril 2012 1 commentaire

I wrote about it almost a year ago here (Dropbox & Google?) and here (Dropbox & Gdocs: conclusion): why, oh why Google don’t launch a service « à la Dropbox » to sync files and edit them online?

Well it seems Mountain View heard me (because we all know they thoroughly read my blog).

Let’s come to the facts: this week, Google Drive went public. This service replaces Docs and works pretty much like Dropbox, synchronizing one folder between all your devices (smartphone, tablets, etc.) and with Drive homepage. But it offers the possibility to edit and create new documents directly online, which can be quite useful when you don’t have access to your computer.

Also, both services allow for only one folder to be synchronized. Don’t worry, if you’re a classifying crank and you don’t want to mess up your folders, here’s a solution: symbolic links.

But I’ll stick to what I’ve said: Google own file format (gsheet, gdoc) is not 100% compatible with MS Office. This means if you want to modify a Word document on Drive, you’ll first have to convert it, which can cause loss of format and maybe data (imagine converting a pretranslated doc with Crados…). For this reason, I cannot recommend Drive for a professional use. The risk of modifying my clients’ source documents is just too great at the moment. And contrary to Dropbox, you can’t retrieve older versions of your files.

And there’s the issue of available storage space. Drive offers 5 Gb; Dropbox only 2, but you can extend it to 18 Gb with referrals and various promotional offers. You can also buy space, and in this case Drive is much more attractive (even if prices skyrocketed with Drive: from 5$ per year, the 20-ish Gb cost now 2,50 $ per month).

So: Drive or Dropbox? Personally, I’ll use both: Dropbox for my professional files, as I am assured they won’t be deteriorated, and Drive for all other file types, such as drafts for my blog, letters, images, eBooks…

Anyway, be aware that Dropbox recently improved its referral system and offers now 500 Mb for each referral (vs. 250 Mb before). So if you don’t have a Dropbox account yet and want some extra storage space, click on this link.

Convert files to PDF

7 février 2012 6 commentaires

And we’re back to useful tools! In the full version of this article, you will learn how to convert a document into PDF, which allows you to protect your files such as invoices and quotes. It’s quite simple actually: you just have to « save as » and choose the right filetype with the latest versions of MS Office.

If you don’t have Office 2010 (or use an older version), you may want to install a virtual printer such as Cute PDF Writer, which allows you to save any type of document – from your Word and Excel docs to webpages or emails – in just a few clicks.

And if you’re as tech-savvy as I am and use a tablet, you can try Office Converter for Android and iOS. It’s free and fully working.

Finally, if you still don’t have an online back-up solution such as Dropbox (I wrote about it here), I’ll be happy to send you an invitation, and we’ll both get a little more storage space. Just send an email:

Dropbox & GDocs: conclusions

3 juillet 2011 4 commentaires

Last week, I was delighted to discover that there are – finally – tools allowing to sync between Dropbox and Google Documents.

Unfortunately, I was quickly disappointed as I lost the layout for ALL my documents…  To this day, there are quite a few apps for this. Here’s a quick review of the one I tested:

  • Syncdocs: It was probably the most promising. Actually it works, even a little too well, since it downloads everything and anything. Even DP cache, as well as hidden and deleted files, which takes storage space unecessarily. I haven’t found a satisfactory way to fix it yet. Right now, I just syncing one way (DP to GG). Not ideal, but it may get better.
  • Cloud HQ: also promising, it offers an « integration » between DP, GG and other services. The idea is nice: it creates a new Dropbox section in Google Docs left column. You can also access your files from Cloud HQ website, but it’s not very convenient. The worst is that all my Office 2010/Open Office files were renamed into « docx.doc » or « odt.doc », and were downloaded twice on my computer, taking a lot of storage space. And it’s bound to become paying service at the end of the beta test. Deactivated and deleted.
  • Syncplicity: I haven’t tested it, because of it’s 2 Gb limit for free version and it’s rather expensive price (15 $/mo). It does not to have any mac client, and seems to be more like a substitute for Dropbox.
  • Google Cloud Connect: it installs a new toolbar in Office documents and syncs it when you work on it. It doesn’t allow you to watch a particular folder, so this is not what I am looking for.
  • Jookuu (Windows only): this standalone program manages one or more Dropbox, Google and accounts. I don’t like the idea of having a full software to manage my files and I’d rather have a Dropbox-like system working in background. Still testing it.
  • Other services exist: insynch (beta sur invitation), SugarSync (payant), Cloud Hero (payant), Cloudseed (en suspens).

So as you can see, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for (high five, Bono). I am impatiently waiting for Dropbox to implement its own solution, which seems to be on its way (vote if you have an account!). Or that Google finally creates a Picasa-like syncing system…


Dropbox & GoogleDocs?

1 juillet 2011 0 commentaire

They (almost) dit it !

Dropbox is great. I wrote about it right here. Google Docs is also nice : online collaboration is easier than ever and you can directly edit documents, which is useful when you are working from a smartphone or a tablet (such as this one, which will soon be in my hands).

The trouble is that Dropbox won’t allow you to open or edit documents without downloading them, and if you need more storage space, you’ll have to spend at least 10 $ per month (or 100 per year) for 50 Gb. On Google’s side of the fence, there is no way to sync your local files with GDocs (forget about Google Cloud Connect, really not user-friendly). But on the other hand, storage space is really cheap: only six dollars (w/ tax) for 20 Gb. And if you really want to spend a Franklin, you’ll have nothing less than… 400 Gb!


(Click to zoom)

Anyway, you saw me coming: for some time now I have been looking for a system to sync Dropbox and Google, and I finally found it: let me introduce you SyncDocs.

It works exactly like Dropbox, and if you set the same folder for both services, you will have two backups for your files. Plus, SyncDocs is free and does not require you to create an account. However, there seem to be some bugs converting files from Microsoft Office to Google, but it is still in beta version. You also have to have two services running in background on Windows, but I guess it is not that bad, while waiting for an official Google Sync!

Happy now?

Update: Not that happy. After a few days of test, there are still many things to improve. First, Google Docs conversion is pretty approximative, to say the least. Second, when you set the same folder for both Dropbox and Syncdocs, DP’s cache is downloaded to your computer and to GGdocs (a solution here). Third, all my files are also downloaded twice to the root of my sync folder. The trick, not really convenient, would be to  select all files under the Home page in Google and choose Actions>Not show in home. Not fully working for me.

Update 2 : I’m starting to have a headach with all of this. I think I will drop the idea for the moment. I’m just going to test Cloud HQ for a few days, I will follow-up on this. If you are interested, you can also try Syncplicity, but it is limited to 2 Gb for the free version.

How to: Make a Translation Invoice

13 juin 2011 11 commentaires

To take a good start this week, as promised, here is the new episode of my useful tools for translators. After the whys and hows of a translation quote, here’s everything you want to know about invoices. If the why is pretty clear, the how is more mysterious.

Don’t forget that everything here relates to the French market only.

The Chamber of commerce from Lyon offers a very helpful and extensive document on invoices, which are defined as an accounting document established by the commercial society stating the terms of sale and purchase of products, wares, goods or services ».

The list of mandatory indications is pretty long, so I will let you check the said document.

There is something I care about: the payment period. According to the French law (August 4th, 2008), the payment period is limited to 45 days end of month or 60 days from the issue date. But you may reduce this period in your terms of service, to 30 days for example.

Short note on terminology: the phrase « 30 days end of month » means that you count 30 days and then jump to the end of the month (i.e.:  for a bill dated on June 10th, add 30 days (July 10th) and jump to the end of the month: the bill is to paid by July 31st at the latest). The expression « 60 days from the issue date » means simply 60 calendar days: a bill issued on June 10th is to be paid on August 10th.

For my part, I added on my bill that late payments were subject to a 15% penalty. The law cited above indicates that « the minimum rate for late payment penalties will be of 3 times the legal interest rate ».

The “autoentrepreneurs”, which are not subject to VAT, have two other compulsory indications:

– Next to the total amount payable: VAT not applicable, Art.293-B (French general tax code)

– Next to your SIRET number and APE code: Exempted from registration according to Article L123-1-1 of French trade code or according to Section V, Article 10, law n°96-603, 5 July 1996 related to trade and craft development

And since I’m a oh-so-sweet Care Bear, here is a template invoice that you can adapt and use at your convenience. FYI, I use an Excel spreadsheet to avoid bothering with calculations, but it works just as well with Word. And by the way: save your invoices in PDF format before sending, it will avoid potential trouble.

Example of Invoice


How to: Make a Quote for a Translation

6 juin 2011 6 commentaires

I would like to come back to the origins, to the initial goal of NJATB: giving advice and useful information about translation. So today, I will tell you how to make a good quote. And tomorrow, we’ll talk about invoices.

But first of all, let me say that what I’ll write here applies only to the French market. There may be some significant differences between countries, whether it is Canada, Belgium or English-speaking countries. Don’t forget to adapt the estimate to the law of the country you are working in.

So what the use of a quote? Better safe than sorry: the worst that could happen is that an unscrupulous client denies having ordered a translation you already sent back. And if you don’t have a quote, a commissioning letter or any written proof, you won’t have anything concrete to prove his bad faith.

Anything written down will do the job, such as an e-mail where a client asks you to translate said text, but a proper purchase order (sent by your client) or a quote (that you establish) is generally better. And it only costs a few minutes…

In France, there are a few mandatory indications to have on a quote: name and address of the translator and client, reception date and deadline, document title, quote acceptance period, rate per word or page, total price, payment terms… and the famous mention “Bon pour accord” from the client.

But rather than letting you in the blur, you can download below a template for a translation quote in French. Of course, you will have to adapt it to your needs, by adding, for example, your terms of service (or the one from the SFT) as well as the terms you negotiated with your client.

Example of Quote

Remember that you can also ask for a deposit, as it is often done by various professionals, especially for bigger jobs.

Next episode: invoicing!

Tools Galore

13 mars 2011 7 commentaires

While I’m frustratingly trying to enjoy the sun and nightlife study my Spanish in Barcelona between two projects (no one’s complaining here), I wanted to share a few more useful tools.

For the record, I already presented Xmarks (and Firefox Sync, which works with FF mobile on Android phones and tablets), Dropbox and iDispo (which doesn’t seem to passionate my readers), let me introduce you to some useful websites.

1) Others already wrote about it (in French), and that’s why I hadn’t mentionned it yet, but Linguee has became an essential tool in my work, especially as I regularly work on EU and UN texts. I only regret the lack of Italian to French search, just like Word Reference (while there’s Portuguese).

2) I found this one on About Translation blog. I am sure you already googled some phrases to see which one was more frequently used (we all did)? Well, « there’s an app for that » now. It’s called; enter the two phrases you want to compare and you’ll immediately have the number of hits for each one. Easy, fast, efficient. Plus, it works in every language.

3) Another very simple website: Corrige-moi (spellcheck me)! The name says it all: this is an online spell checker (which is far from having the efficiency of a professional software such as Antidote for French). Just choose your language and paste your text in the box. The big pro is that you can choose 15 national languages, 3 regional (Afrikaans, Breton and Catalan) as well as Esperanto!

iDispo: Organization 2.0

3 mars 2011 2 commentaires

After Dropbox and Xmarks, let’s continue with useful tools. The one I am going to talk about today is not ready yet, but it’s already full of promises. And it’s a French who created it, Ismaël Nzouetom. This potentially big gem is named iDispo. The principle is fairly basic, but its potential is almost infinite.

Here’s a screenshot of its homepage:

So this project is all about creating a « universal service to manage availabilities » (you can read a detailed article in French here).

In other words, this service allows you to book a restaurant, a doctor and why not a week of translation! It will help making appointment between business and consumers or business to business. You will be able to link other accounts like Facebook or Google, and every event in those calendars will be automatically added to iDispo. You will then be able to share your availabilities with your friends, for example. Service providers will also share their free time slots, and you’ll be able to book an appointment with just a click.

Let’s imagine: you doodle your colleagues for a meeting. Then, the assistant just has to set a new meeting in iDispo and it’s automatically shared will all collaborators’ calendars.

What about the translation industry? It’s still hard to imagine the full extent of its implication, but we can guess that project managers would have access to all translators’ calendars and will dispatch translations more easily and quickly.

iDispo should be officially presented in the next few weeks. IMHO, all the ingredients are here to make iDispo one of the biggest innovation since Google.


File Syncing: Dropbox & Xmarks

26 janvier 2011 7 commentaires

Freelance translators are kind of geek (says My French Neighbor). And it’s true: if I can’t run dozens of softwares at the same time on my computer, I start shaking like a junkie. That was the case at the end of 2010, when my laptop started to suffer from wear and tear. I took a real pleasure buying spare parts and assemble a new computer.

But then I had to face a new problem: how could I have the same documents on both computers, so that I can work on either one of them? And I had absolutely no will to spend hours looking for the latest version of my translations or to constantly use USB sticks.

Well, I chose Dropbox, a service (free up to 2Gb) that allows to back-up your data in the cloud, as they say, that is on a web server. But this « box » also allows you to sync these files between two or more computers. I use it since some time now, and it really became a useful tool.

The other pros of Dropbox are that you can access your files online from any computer and also that « There’s an app for that », which means that you can also access your files from your smartphone. Pretty useful. IMHO, the only con is Dropbox only sync files from a « My Dropbox » folder, so you have to have all the important files in the same folder. But that should change, as it is in progress in their « Votebox ».

[Edit: There’s actually a way to sync different folders, as well as another software: you can read it all in the comments below]

Finally, Dropbox allows two or more users to share a folder. In our industry, this means that a translator and a project manager can share files without having to send heavy e-mails or using services such as YouSendIt.

I have now my most important files sync between my computers. But what about my Internet bookmarks? For this, I use a nice little add-on for Firefox, Xmarks, which save your bookmarks on a server and then sync them between registered workstation. It can even remember your tabs!

[Edit 2: I just discovered another add-on, Firefox Sync, which is Mozilla’s official sync plug-in. It should be integrated to the next versions of Firefox and allows also to sync with mobile versions f Firefox on Android phoness]

You will find additional information about online storage on Naked Translations and Musings from an Overworked Translator. Also, don’t miss out on Translate This!‘s warning about the cloud. And if you’d like to have an additional 250Mb free space on Dropbox, just leave a comment or send me an e-mail, and I’ll send you a referral email.