For translators, hardware and software are also important
On-time delivery and full compliance with work specifications are two other essentials for professional translators, for many clients sometimes as important as translation quality itself. Whether direct clients or translation agencies, customers are rarely pleased when notified of last-minute delays.
How we protect our translation work
Electronic devices such as computers have an uncanny ability to fail at the worst possible time, creating situations that, if not immediately addressed, might seriously jeopardize the reputations of both translators and translation companies alike.
This creates a need for readily available emergency hardware and software tools which can help reduce the resulting downtime to the bare minimum. Here is what we do to minimize this not-so-unlikely risk:
We each use a minimum of two computers which are configured with identical software and all of which are connected via a LAN. Should one of our primary PCs fail, we can resume working on one of the other machines within the span of a few minutes. This allows us to maintain our productivity because we can continue working using the specific software that the job requires.
In addition to backing up our most important files to the cloud in real time, we also perform multiple backups of all work files onto external disks and other local media throughout the day.
We replace all computers every three years on average.
All of our work computers are now laptops hooked up to external monitors so that we can continue working even if we lose power (remember Fukushima!).
And if blackouts continue for extended periods of time (which in Japan is only a problem after major natural disasters such as the tsunami in 2011), we can very quickly set up a miniature solar-cell system with enough power to charge two portable PCs, a modem, and a smartphone.
Our safety is our clients' peace of mind
In addition to minimizing any forced interruptions in our workflow, the ready availability of a backup computer and wireless communication device allows us to stay in constant contact with our clients.
This is not only in our best interest but also that of our clients, whose time is just as precious as ours and as such should not be compromised by a lack of preparedness on our part. We can therefore state with confidence that our safety and the safety of our clients are one and the same.
Software is an indispensable component of any professional translation process, in particular when doing technical/scientific/specialized translations. The other part of the equation is hardware. Our primary hardware and software tools are listed in the right column. Note that the software we use is always updated to the latest available version or is at least compatible with the needs of our clients.
Keeping work tools up to date is without a doubt one of the most meaningful investments that translators can make toward their careers. A readiness to invest in the most appropriate tools—despite their relative high cost for freelance translators—is also a solid indicator of professionalism and respect towards customers.